"La Peyrère's Polygenism and Human Species Hierarchy"

Journal of the History of Philosophy (forthcoming)
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In 1655 La Peyrère was the first to substantially argue for and popularize polygenism—the view that God created multiple original human mating pairs in separate acts of creation with numerous created before Adam. Positing or rejecting polygenism has been central to modern theorizing about human types and origins. Prominent recent interpreters have maintained that La Peyrère’s polygenism does not imply a hierarchy of human types. This paper reconstructs La Peyrère’s account and, in opposition to the dominant view, argues that his polygenism produces a human species hierarchy. The Adamite species is superior to the Pre-Adamite species in virtue of its material composition, mode of creation, and form. The upshot is that La Peyrère’s theological system posits a proto-racialist conception of human types.



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Jacob Zellmer
University of California, San Diego

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