meaning of a sentence

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giuly90

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Feb 19, 2010
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Dear teachers,

there's a sentence in this excerpt from a scientific essay about pleasure that I cannot understand:

"Certainly people have mistaken
essentialist beliefs. Sex with a virgin won’t cure AIDS and eating
the corpse of a person who speaks English won’t improve your
own English. Human groups, such as blacks and Jews, don’t have
essences that clearly distinguish them from other groups".

Does the final sentence mean that human groups cannot be distinguished between each other (i.e., there are not essences that allow to distinguish blacks form jews), or that they cannot be distinguished from other groups. I find this sentence is not clear.

Thank you in advance for your advice.

G.
 

Leandro-Z

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Jun 9, 2010
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Spanish
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Argentina
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Argentina
I believe it has to do with racism, the distingtion that make some people due to the phisical or cultural appearance. Since they believe this groups are like 'aliens', the text wants to explain that it is a mistake to look down on this groups.

Best wishes...
 

Raymott

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Jun 29, 2008
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Academic
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Australia
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Dear teachers,

there's a sentence in this excerpt from a scientific essay about pleasure that I cannot understand:

"Certainly people have mistaken
essentialist beliefs. Sex with a virgin won’t cure AIDS and eating
the corpse of a person who speaks English won’t improve your
own English. Human groups, such as blacks and Jews, don’t have
essences that clearly distinguish them from other groups".

Does the final sentence mean that human groups cannot be distinguished between each other (i.e., there are not essences that allow to distinguish blacks form jews),
Yes. But the paragraph doesn't give the example of blacks differing from Jews. It refers to blacks or Jews not differing essentially from other (human) groups.
or that they cannot be distinguished from other groups. I find this sentence is not clear.
Yes, they cannot be distinguished from other human groups.
You're right. It is ambiguous. But the meaning should be obvious from the context, given that it's a scientific text.

Thank you in advance for your advice.

G.
R.
 

Raymott

VIP Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2008
Member Type
Academic
Native Language
English
Home Country
Australia
Current Location
Australia
I believe it has to do with racism, the distinction that some people make due to the physical or cultural appearance. Since they believe these groups are like 'aliens', [I must have missed this point] the text wants to explain that it is a mistake to look down on these groups.

Best wishes...
The text says nothing about aliens or looking down on any groups.
 
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