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Author Carlson, Elof Axel, author

Title The unfit : a history of a bad idea / Elof Axel Carlson
Published Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. : CSHL Press, [2001]
Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. : Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, ©2001


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Description xiv, 451 pages : illustrations, portraits ; 24 cm
Contents pt. 1. Before Darwin -- 1. Who are the unfit? -- 2. The unfit in biblical times -- 3. Self-polltution and declining health -- 4. Degeneracy theory: identifying the innately depraved and the victims of vicious upbringing -- 5. Dangerous classes and social degeneracy -- 6. Poor laws and the descent to degeneracy -- 7. The perfectibility of man confronts vice and misery -- 8. Evolutionary ethics before Darwin -- 9. Hereditary units and the pessimism of the germ plasm -- pt. 2. Eugenics takes the spotlight -- 10. The jukes and the tribe of Ishmael -- 11. A minor prophet of democracy -- 12. Isolating the unfit through compulsory sterilization -- 13. The emergence of two wings of the eugenics movement -- 14. Europe's undesirables replace the domestic unfit -- 15. Eugenics becomes an international movement -- pt. 3. Racism, the Holocaust and beyond -- 16. Racism and human inequality -- 17. Jews as people, race, culture, religion and victims -- 18. The smoke of Auschwitz -- 19. The abandonment of eugenics by genetics -- 20. The future of eugenics -- 21. Dealing with life's imperfections -- Appendices
Summary The title reflects the nearly three centuries of belief that some people are socially unfit by virtue of a defective biology, and echoes an earlier theory of degeneracy, dating to biblical antiquity, in which some people were deemed unfit because of some transgression against religious law. The author presents the first biological theory of degeneracy-onanism-and then follows the development of degeneracy theory throughout the nineteenth century and its application to a variety of social classes. The key intellectual theories and their proponents form the framework of this exploration, which includes the concepts of evolution and heredity and how they were applied to social problems. These ideas are followed into the twentieth century with the development of theories of positive and negative eugenics, the establishment of compulsory sterilization laws, racism and anti-Semitism, and the Holocaust. [from publisher's advertisement]
Notes Includes index
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references (pages 409-426) and index
Notes Also available as an electronic book via the World Wide Web to institutions affiliated with netLibrary, Inc
Subject Eugenics -- History.
LC no. 2001032347
ISBN 0879695870 (alkaline paper)
0879696583 (electronic bk.)