Academic journal article Mankind Quarterly

Eugenics from an East Asian Perspective

Academic journal article Mankind Quarterly

Eugenics from an East Asian Perspective

Article excerpt

Eugenics may be defined as the science of improving the gene pool of a particular population through selective breeding. This paper looks at how East Asians view the subject of eugenics, as compared to Western Caucasian populations. Emphasis is placed on how the East Asians' underlying conception of family and society, their pragmatism, and their realistic view of kinship, ethnicity and race have rendered them more receptive to the idea of eugenics. Viable non-coercive eugenic proposals that have the potential of taking place in the West in the future are discussed.

Key Words: eugenics, race, East Asians, IQ, kinship, genetics, genetic engineering

Imagine that one is walking down a busy street in a major liberal metropolitan city, such as Los Angeles or New York. One proceeds to randomly ask a thousand people who pass by and who are of childbearing age the following question: if you were to have a baby, given a choice, would you prefer to have one born with a disability or one who is born healthy? Or one may ask: given a choice, would you prefer having a low IQ child or a high IQ one? One may also follow up with the question: would you not do everything, anything, to ensure such a desired outcome? The answer to these questions and the result of this informal poll will be obvious and will probably be unanimous. Implicit in the answer is a preference for good genes. Western governments, however, will react less enthusiastically to this idea of total parental choice. They are aware that most parents are implicitly and instinctually, whether they know it or not, subscribing to a version of positive or progressive eugenics.2 And the subject of eugenics is still to a great certain extent forbidden in social discourse. The freedom of speech has been encapsulated in Voltaire's famous quip "I disagree with everything you say, but I shall defend, to my death, your right to say it." Current political correctness may be seen as its diametrical opposite: "I agree with everything you say, but I shall fight, to my death, so that you do not have a right to say it." In the case of eugenics, many intellectuals and politicians probably privately agree with most parents. After all, many of them are parents themselves. However, given the opportunity, many politicians will fight to their deaths to ensure that ordinary citizens will not have the right to utilize genetic technology to its fullest in order to maximize the chances of having an offspring of "tailored" to their choice or desire. Witness the recent political outcry against experiments in human cloning, for instance. For many non-- Westerners, this government-imposed constraint of parental choice and free speech seems paradoxical when juxtaposed against all the hackneyed cliches of "reproductive freedom" and "reproductive rights" which have been used as ammunition against eugenics. A great deal of incontrovertible evidence has accumulated over the past few decades linking the importance of genetic or biological roots to human traits such as health, behavior and intelligence, suggesting the practicality of attacking many of our medical and social problems from biological roots. This is why fields such as genetic manipulation and engineering, cloning, and indeed, eugenics, have such potential for the future. This paper focuses on the latter concept, more specifically, on eugenics from an East Asian perspective. It delves into the attitudinal, and to a certain extent the philosophical, differences between the East and West on their approach to this subject. It should be noted that the discussion is primarily a positive evaluation, as opposed to a normative one. In other words, the paper is primarily, though not exclusively, a descriptive analysis, as opposed to prescriptive analysis. Eugenics may broadly be defined as efforts to improve the gene pool in a particular population.4 A similar definition is that it is the science of ways in which the genetic constitution of man can be improved. …

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