Through Study of Aesthetic Realism
Cause of Racism
In over 30 years of careful study, I have seen that Aesthetic Realism, the philosophy founded by the great educator Eli Siegel (1902-1978), answers these critical questions. I describe how in the article "Aesthetic Realism: the Solution to Racism," published on the website The Black World Today (http://www.tbwt.com) and reprinted by the Aesthetic Realism Foundation, on whose faculty I teach (http://www.AestheticRealism.org).
As I have had the privilege to show in anthropology classes I have taught since the 1970's, Eli Siegel's unparalleled scientific understanding of the human self-the self which is in common among and underlies all cultures-makes relevant to people living today the work done by anthropologists for generations-from Tylor, to Spencer and Gillen, to Grinnell, to Benedict, to Herskovits, to Napoleon Chagnon and Richard B. Lee.
The place of contempt in the human mind is understood only by Aesthetic Realism. Contempt, the "disposition in every person to think he will be for himself by making less of the outside world," is the fundamental cause of cruelty in cultures everywhere (see Self and World, 1981, pp. 1, 15). Contempt is what Ashley Montagu is describing in Man: His First Two Million Years when he writes, "Many tribes call themselves by names which mean in effect 'we-are-men,' implying that all others are not" (1969, p. 182). Contempt has impelled people without their being able to identify it or combat it. The desire to have contempt has driven scholars to attack another's interpretation or theory. It has impelled husbands to patronize a wife's intellect. Racism itself is contempt for the world that takes the form of contempt for persons different from oneself. This contempt was taken to a horrible intensity when a white man dragged a black man to death in Jasper, Texas.
There is nothing more important for an anthropologist--a person whose career stands for justice to cultural difference--than to make sure we use all our resources to end that brutal, unjust, murderous way of seeing people that is racism. The Aesthetic Realism of Eli Siegel provides the means. Therefore, it is more than ever necessary that anthropologists study it. (I use the phrase "Victim of the Press" because the boycott of Aesthetic Realism by members of the press-including the academic press-has hurt lives incalculably, including my own. I tell of this unethical and unjust boycott, and its cause, in the article I refer to in this letter.)