Great Anthropology Essay In Human Life And Culture

Anthropology Essay is being described in this article.Anthropology,occupies an uncertain and indefinite position among the various sciences relating to man. According to its name, it aspires to be the science of man in general; or, in precise terms, the science of the nature of man. To the zoologist, and to naturalists in general, Man seems to be neither more nor less than the most organized parasite of the earth,—the highest mammal; to the theologian he appears as a being, by his mortal body belonging to nature ; by his spiritual endowment rising far above, standing in strict contrast to it, and occupying, by the Divine breath which has animated him only, a privileged position between God and nature.

Whoever acknowledges in nature a spiritual power and an inconceivable wisdom to which he turns with a certain religious worship, might feel inclined to designate one part of the conflict between these two views as a mere macrology, but only one part of it; for the question, whether man—at least in one aspect of his nature—stands beyond and above, and not in nature, would still be left in doubt, as well as the other question allied to it with reference to the priority of spirit or of matter.

A third view, which, in a certain sense, endeavored to reconcile both the above theories, has only contributed to expose the conflict between them,—it is the theory according to which the spirit of humanity is the spirit of God himself, the same one and absolute spirit which, unconscious of itself, creates the world, and only reaches the end of its development in man as the sole agent of divine self-consciousness. A self-evident sequence of this conception is, that knowledge of God and knowledge of human nature (Anthropology) are identical, since God, according to this theory, can have no other attributes than those which present themselves in the history of the mental development of man as purely human attributes, acting, at the same time, as divine powers in the history of civilization. We thus perceive the striking contrast between these three conceptions relating to the • human being; for the first places man altogether in nature; the second does so in part; tho third places him entirely above nature.

In this conflict of opinion—one side of which humbles the self-esteem of man as much as another flatters him—and considering the intrinsic interest of the subject, one might expect anthropology to be an industriously cultivated field, and that especially the faculties of those who assign to man so peculiarly sublime a position, not merely upon the earth, but in the whole universe, should be zealously directed to it.

Yet such is not the case. In Germany it is at present a common case, that in the fields of various sciences, and even within tho same science, opposite theories grow up, without their respective ponderous taking any notice of each other, or even endeavoring to consolidate their doctrines. The strength of party supplies the strength of argument; the trouble of giving scientific proofs seems unnecessary where such value is attached to the judgment of those who, by agreeing in some fundamental points, represent each other with the instinctive force of an esprit de corps. With the same kind of tact, all that has grown upon a foreign stock is silently passed over or eliminated, whilst that which seems homogeneous is assimilated ; and thus scientific life moves in individual separate small spheres, whilst the more comprehensive and fundamental questions are no longer discussed.

This applies also to the question of the nature of man; but here another circumstance occurs which has essentially contributed to prevent Anthropology from acquiring its rights,— this is, the peculiarly limited conception formerly attached to it. The old treatises on this subject make it appear merely as an aggregate of materials which already belong to other branches of science, and__ arc in Anthropology only arranged and popularly expounded.

The most important and interesting facts which comparative Anatomy, Physiology, and Psychology have pointed out with regard to the differential character of man from the animals nearest to him, constituted the chief portion of Anthropology. Some other subjects were added, of which either nothing is known, or which do not admit of a scientific exposition, such as investigations into the origin of mankind, animal magnetism, mysterious solar, lunar, terrestrial influences, partly a heritage of the old philosophy of nature which has succumbed to the progress of natural science.

Introduction To Anthropology Essay And Social Sciences

Thus Stiffens distinguished a geological, physiological, and psychological anatomy. Latterly, this mode of expounding Anthropology has been abandoned; for though the present time is by no means quite adverse to the belief in the supernatural and improbable reciprocal relations between natural objects, admissions of this kind are very sparingly made; hence works on Anthropology in this direction have disappeared. Moreover, they could not, as mere aggregates of materials belonging to other sciences, claim an independent interest; and the superficial phrases in which they indulged on a variety of subjects, such as dancing, declamation, poetry, and love, for the purpose of embracing, according to the German custom, every human peculiarity, were not calculated to supply the requisite interest.

One great reason why Anthropology could not sustain itself in this form, is owing to the awkward position in which it was placed by being considered and treated at one time as an empirical, and at another time as a philosophical science; thus assuming an undefined and fluctuating character: here, it appeared with abstract deductions, without any experimental basis; there, as a mere collection of interesting experimental details, arbitrarily changing the mode of treatment. In opposition thereto, it is requisite to declare in this place, once for all, that Anthropology is to be considered as an empirical science, because its subject, Man, is only known to us empirically, and hence it is requisite to study man by the same method which is applied to the investigation of all other natural objects.

In attempting to limit the sphere of Anthropology, and to assign to this science a proper and well-defined position among other allied branches of human knowledge, our attention is first directed to two departments of study, differing greatly in matter and method, but which, nevertheless, in spite of their external dissimilarity, possess this in common,—that they both make Man the exclusive subject of their consideration, in the investigation of his nature; we allude to the Anatomy, Physio-logy, and Psychology of man, on one part; and to the History of Civilization, on the other. Our task, therefore, is to inquire into what has been accomplished in these fields, as regards the nature of man, and whether the results obtained form such a complement that from their combination the desired knowledge may be obtained.

Anatomy, physiology, and psychology consider man as an individual being, not indeed (like the practical physician and pedagogue), as an example, but as the representative of a genus: not with regard to particular accidental peculiarities by which he is distinguished from other individuals of the same genus; but in so far as the common or generic character of all similar individuals is represented in him, and the laws to which, externally and internally, all these individuals are subject, appear manifested in him. But the consideration of man, in his social relation, is foreign to these sciences; the whole sum of mental performances, which proceed only from a multifarious reciprocal action of individualizes, and which in the course of centuries essentially transform the external and inner life of society, lies beyond its sphere.

And if Psychology does not altogether desist from casting a glance at this sphere, it feels obliged to remain at the gate, and to rest satisfied with an historical description of certain facts, as the concatenation of the acting causes is too great to enable it to reduce the course of events to psychological laws, thus finding its progress obstructed just where the proper field of the History of Civilization commences. The latter directs its attention exclusively to social life and its development; and the contribution which, from this point of view, it renders towards the knowledge of human nature, is doubtless as essential as that contributed by the natural sciences. There remains, UN-fortunately, a considerable gap in our knowledge; for these different branches of science stand yet, side by side, unconnected, whilst they should, by combination, assist each other.

Anthropology And Psychology

This is first shown by the relation of Physiology to Psychology. Both these sciences are usually so limited that the first treats of physical, and the second of psychical life ; hence, the reciprocal actions of the physical and psychical organization remain unexplained, for an investigation of this subject fits neither in the frame of physiology nor of psychology. And yet, as regards the question of the nature of man, the modes and peculiar form of this reciprocal action are of the greatest importance. The obscurity as regards the essence of the soul, and its connexion with the body, is not a sufficient excuse. The disputed points might, without any great loss, remain untouched, if the task proposed were merely to investigate the amount of the influences of the physical organization, with the peculiarities and periodical changes, upon psychical life; and the kind of reaction the body experiences from psychical activity; to what extent they take place, and what are the proximate and remote results.

Still larger than the gap subsisting between physiology and psychology, is that obtaining between the physical and historical parts of our knowledge. The History of Civilization is unquestionably developed by the collective action of four connected groups of causes. The first is the physical organization of man. The second presents itself in the form of the psychical life peculiar to each people, which appears developed in all individuals belonging to it in a world agitated by various interests, views, and feelings. Surrounding nature forms the third.

The fourth is the sum total of social relations and connections of individuals and circles of society, internally and externally. The History of Civilization by itself has only for its object the representation, to the fullest extent, of the origin and the decline of each civilization, and the ascertainment of their causes. Here it becomes evident how unconnected the physical part of the science of man stands beside the historical part; for we are as yet very far from being able, by a philosophy of history growing out of physiology and psycho-logy, to indicate why and wherefore the history of one people has undergone a different process of development from that of another people; why one people has no history at all, and in another the sum of mental performances never exceeds a certain limit ; and yet in every case it is the aggregate of the physiological and psychological facts alone which contains the essential conditions of the historical facts.

In assigning to Anthropology the task of mediation between the physical and historical portion of our knowledge of man, it will not merely be delivered from the reproach of being a mere collation of borrowed materials, and thus unjustly claim the position of an independent science; but it will acquire a better right to its name, inasmuch as the nature of man mainly rests upon this,—that he steps out of his individual life, and enters into a social connection with others, by whom he himself arrives at a higher and truly human development. It is at the point of his transition from isolation into social life that Anthropology must lay hold of man, and investigate the conditions and results of his further development.

Let us endeavor more closely to examine this task of Anthropology in its relation to history. In the historical consideration of man, the differences of physical organization and the influences of surrounding nature, stand in the background; the former, because the development of civilization is, with some few unimportant exceptions, limited chiefly to the Caucasian race; the latter, because the conformation of the human race, however dependent it may originally in pre-historic times have been on surrounding nature, has gradually, with progressive civilization, by division of lab-our, intercourse and trade, art and science, greatly emancipated itself from this dependence. Whilst History endeavors to represent the various phases of civilized life to the fullest extent, the interest of Anthropology rests chiefly upon the general features and the greatest differences in the various forms of human life; for as regards the latter science, these diversities form the most important and characteristic part, and we should have but a one-sided conception of man, if our notion of him were only derived from the history of civilization without taking into consideration the requisite supplement arising from the study of uncivilized nations, and of man in a primitive state. It is just this point which anthropology has to keep in view.

History only begins where reliable traditions or writings exist,—where a beginning of civilization has been secured,—where certain objects are rationally pursued,—where a people by the force of historical conditions, either influenced by the genius of individuals arising among them, or by external causes, arrive at a certain development. Anthropology, on the other hand, embraces all the peoples of the earth, including those who have no history, in order to acquire the largest possible basis; and endeavors partly to sketch an ante-historical picture, and what may, in contrast to the historical development of peoples, be termed the natural history of human Society, namely, its necessary natural formation upon a given soil, and under given stationary external conditions.

As man appears in history neither as a living body, such as physiology describes him, nor as a spiritual being, as conceived by psychology, but as a combination of physical and psychical life, he must be considered as a whole in the reciprocal action of his physical organization and his psychical life; for it is only as a whole that he appears as the elementary basis of history. There arises in the interest of history another question, as to the extent to which the notion of man should be applied,—whether all individuals and peoples, usually comprehended under that term, are of one and the same nature,— whether they belong to one species, or whether there be not such specific differences in the physical and psychical endowments of individual stocks as would justify history in excluding them, assigning them to zoology, and defending their employment as domestic working animals by higher organized beings, properly called men.

To this question there is another closely allied, which attracted considerable attention during the last century, but which seems now almost neglected; namely, the question as regards the primitive or natural state of man (Naturzustand). On glancing at the mode in which it was formerly treated, its present neglect can scarcely surprise us; for in the absence of empirical materials requisite for the solution of this problem, recourse was had to mere rhetoric of a political and religious nature, in order to establish certain favorite notions with regard to the primitive man. Yet it is this point which is of such great importance to the student of the history of mankind; and it is the very last which should be neglected in laying a foundation for the history of humanity, bearing always in mind that this investigation must be conducted in an empirical method, and not by a deduction from abstract notions.

Ethnography And  Anthropology

The fourth theme of Anthropology is that of Ethnography or Ethnology, the object of which is an investigation into the affinities of various peoples and tribes. Closely allied with it is the History of Mankind; and it seems arbitrary whether this branch of knowledge be considered as a separate part of Anthropology, or belonging to Ethnology. The important results to which, in modern times, German philology has led, caution us against the errors still committed in determining affinities of nations, and grouping them in families or races, by viewing them exclusively from an Ethnological stand-point, and neglecting the historical and other evidence.

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