The systematization of race concepts during the Enlightenment period brought with it the conflict between monogenism (a single origin for all human races) and polygenism (the hypothesis that races had separate origins). This debate was originally cast in creationist terms as a question of one versus many creations of humanity, but continued after evolution was widely accepted, at which point the question was given in terms of whether humans had split from their ancestral species one or many times.
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In short, they can detect the differences, as Margaret MacMillan's book title reads, between the uses and abuses of history. “Historical thinking” only becomes possible in relation to substantive content. These concepts are not abstract “skills.” Rather, they provide the structure that shapes the practice of history.
The impressive quotes from Newton above, which sound like he's on the right track, do not tell the whole story . Newton thought that part of chemistry (especially the physical part) could be explained in terms of the mechanics of corpuscles, but that there was something more important - a harder-to-pin-down vital spirit, which was the basis of life (and also somehow connected with mercury and other elements). He also felt this was the key to the way God ran the universe -- the merely mechanical interaction of corpuscles could not, in his opinion, generate the rich variety of life. And Newton wanted to understand just how God did run the universe. Newton probably spent more time studying alchemy than he did working on his laws, gravitation and calculus combined! In fact, Newton probed "the whole vast literature of the older alchemy as it has never been probed before or since" according to a recent historical study (see Never at Rest , Richard Westfall, page 290). He also used quite precise quantitative measures in many of his investigations. This did not provide the insight into mass conservation that Lavoisier's work did a century later, probably because Newton didn't count the various gases absorbed or emitted, these were still considered incidental and not really important to the reactions. Also, maybe they didn't smell too great -- a recipe for preparing phosphorus Newton copied from Boyle begins "Take of Urin one Barrel". Enough already. ( Never at Rest , page 285).