This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Comparative Ideas In Anthropological Thinking Essay

1376 words - 6 pages

Anthropology, akin to other academic disciplines, has stirred among its colleagues debates of theories. As anthropologists have attempted to explain human behavior and culture a few of these premises have been discredited, others dismantled and portions renovated, and still others have become staples of anthropological analysis. Regardless of modern opinion regarding the theories of past anthropologists, elements of each concept remain essential to study. By utilizing the resources of McGee and Warms, Moore, Perry, Salzman, Sokolvosky, and Spencer, I will evaluate pairs of ideas in anthropology that include ideographic and nomeothetic, unilinear evolution and neoevolution, and organic and superorganic, while also indicating their influences on other aspects of anthropological thought.
One of the main debates in anthropological theory is ideographic versus nomothetic explanations, which encompasses the dispute if the discipline of anthropology is historical or scientific. Ideographic is defined according to A.R. Radcliffe-Brown as “patterns found in a particular place and time” (Salzman 2010:26). An ideographic approach is most notably associated with Historical Particularism, which was founded by Franz Boas and advocated by Alfred Kroeber. Boas believed that cultural practices were to be understood in specific cultural contexts, not evolutionary stages (Perry 2003:141). Thus, he emphasized ethnographic fieldwork of individual cultures, which remains the major concern of cultural anthropology. Boas believed that to comprehend a culture’s customs, one must study the environmental conditions during their development, psychological factors, and historical connections, but its history was the most imperative (McGee and Warms 2012:114). In his view, societies were created by their own unique histories. The notion of each culture’s own history influenced the formation of the concept of cultural relativism, or the cultures should be studied without judgment (Perry 2003:201). This has remained a tenet of anthropology. A.R. Radcliffe-Brown describes nomothetic as the “quest for general knowledge” and its literal translation is “law giving” (Salzman 2010:26). This refers to the approach to anthropology that natural laws govern human behavior and culture and anthropologist should discover those laws. Radcliffe-Brown supported this method and it was prevalent among nineteenth century cultural evolutionists. These theorists proposed that societies, like biological organisms were subject to the natural laws in their evolution. These laws pertain to human thought in societies as all progress through the same stages. According to Morgan, for example, these stages or ethical periods were “savagery”, “barbarianism”, and “civilization” and were separated by differences in inventions and discoveries, the idea of government, the organization of the family, and the concept of property (Moore 2009:26). To Morgan, the progression of societies was manifested in the...

Find Another Essay On Comparative Ideas in Anthropological Thinking

What is anthropology and why we should study it?

1854 words - 7 pages and not only includes different ethic cultures but social economic cultures as well. Cultural Anthropology seeks to understand and describe each culture in its own perspective and in comparative perspective. Cultural anthropologists gather data through first-hand field study in other cultures and do cross-cultural comparative studies which provide insight and understanding of the modes and patterns of human life. In the group presentations, the

Book Review of Jack Goody's "Food and Love: A Cultural History of East and West"

1311 words - 5 pages examples Goody illustrates. Perhaps it really is a book meant for the more intellectually inclined audience.Food and Love, unlike his ethnographic writings on culture of flowers, deals with a more serious aspect of life. But in my opinion, one of the most outstanding ideas proposed by Goody, amidst his comparative study of Asia and Europe, is that contrary to what sociologists, anthropologists and historian have assume, the West did not have a

An Overview of Two Major Theorists of Anthropology: Lewis Henry Morgan and Franz Boas

1877 words - 8 pages anthropological skills and insights to political ends to the detriment of peoples anywhere” (Hunter and Whitten 1976:62). Works Cited Birx, H. James. 2006. Encyclopedia of Anthropology. Vol. 4. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Boas, Franz. 1896. “The Limitations of the Comparative Method of Anthropology.” Reprinted in Boas, Race, Language, and Culture, 1940, pp. 271-304. New York: Macmillan. Hunter David E. and Phillip Whitten, ed. 1976


937 words - 4 pages are critical of our everyday terminology: ideas like question-to the point, in fact, where one can hardly speak reasonably about "belief" anymore outside of certain historical contexts. "In the anthropology of religion, as in many interpretive pursuits of our postmodern age, there is nowhere left to hide."BibliographyApproaches to the Anthropology of Religion. Boulder, COWestview Press, 1995An Anthropological Approach. New York: Harper and Row.Anthropological Conceptions of Religion: Reflections on Geertz. Man Bateson, Gregory and Mary Bateson.

The Unique Contribution of Anthropology

865 words - 4 pages :9) As a field of study it offers a view of the world that is comparative, leery of generalizations, and both microscopic and macroscopic. (Eriksen 2004:6) Theory is the first of two major resources an anthropologist has at his disposal. Though subject to both internal changes from shifting beliefs and ideas of individual researchers and external changes from within the field of anthropology, theory plays an essential role in the anthropological

Influence of Colonization Politics on Modern Field-work…

678 words - 3 pages Influence of Colonization Politics on Modern Field-work… Hell-bent on expansion, the British Empire insisted on the exhaustive domination of one people over another, and in doing so, fostered hatred and friction between cultures in the late nineteenth/early twentieth centuries. Cultural friction has presented a large disruption in the anthropological relationship between observer and participant in historical fieldwork, and moreover, “the

The Relevancy of Ethnomusicology to the Study of British Folk Music

2363 words - 9 pages comparative musicology, which seemed to over-emphasize external comparison) in the early 1950s came from a background where several composite ethno-words were already in use: ethnopoetics,ethnomedicine, ethnohistory, etc ... The point of all these terms was that the investigator sought to understand the topic from the perspective of the native 'informant'. The ethnomusicologist was as interested in, say, an Egyptian's 'musicology' - i.e., his

Critical Thinking

1015 words - 4 pages to belief and action. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness"."Critical thinking…is incorporated in a family of interwoven modes of thinking, among them: scientific thinking, mathematical thinking, historical thinking, anthropological thinking, economic

Professor Ngugi and Writing as Social Communication

765 words - 3 pages societies? Furthermore, what is the significance of the written word in a society where the construction of history is not necessarily recorded or even linear? Driven to examine these issues, I found that the general scope of comparative literature fell short of my expectations because it didn't allow students to question the inherent integrity or subjectivity of their discourse. We were told to approach Asian, African, European, and American

Critical Thinking Application Paper

1025 words - 4 pages Critical Thinking by some is thought to be as important as or more important than most material or physical items such as money, homes or automobiles. Without critical thinking various ideas to make money or in this example automobile, one would not have these items. So what is more important than critical thinking, one thing might come to mind. Oxygen is probably the one most important thing that our brain needs to survive; this would be an

Franz Boas Discuss the Contribution of Anthropology

1741 words - 7 pages , 2001). In 1887 he left Germany to go to the United States, in order to leave behind the anti-Semitism and the racial ideas that were on the rise in Europe. America was generally perceived as a politically ideal country, and there he found a free intellectual climate, a new home, and a devoted wife, Marie Krakowizer. He also found an anthropological project that was to occupy him for the rest of his life, the study of the cultures that lived on

Similar Essays

Reflections Of Peace And Nationalism In Sri Lankan Literature

885 words - 4 pages It was one evening, while I was reading the novel Anil’s Ghost by Michael Ondaatjee that my ideas for a doctoral project took shape. Before reading the novel, I had heard from my Professor who taught me Post colonial studies (a course for which the novel had been prescribed) that Ondaatjee’s only novel about Sri Lanka has often been subjected to heavy criticism because of the fact that it fails to portray the island’s civil war in a credible

The Savage Slot Essay

846 words - 4 pages California Press. Moeberg, Mark 2013 The Prehistory of Anthropology. In Engaging Anthropological Theory: A Social and Political History. Oxon: Routledge Moore, Jerry D. 2009 Visions of Culture: An Introduction to Anthropological Theories and Theorists. 3rd edition. United Kingdom: AltaMira Press. Perry, Richard J. 2003 Five Key Concepts in Anthropological Thinking. New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc. Trouillot, Michel-Rolph 2003 Anthropology and the Savage Slot: The Poetics and Politics of Otherness. In Global Transformations: Anthropology and the Modern World. 1st edition. Pp. 7-28. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Sources Of Data In The Golden Bough

1949 words - 8 pages succession and religion is nothing but a refinement of the more primitive "magical" mentality.To move towards the sources of data in the Golden Bough, Sir James Frazer took help of the vast body of mythical and also anthropological material available in his day. He relied much on secondary sources of data that ultimately made him a victim of severe criticisms placing him in the framework of "armchair school". Frazer widely uses comparative methods

Sources Of Data In The Golden Bough

1949 words - 8 pages succession and religion is nothing but a refinement of the more primitive "magical" mentality.To move towards the sources of data in the Golden Bough, Sir James Frazer took help of the vast body of mythical and also anthropological material available in his day. He relied much on secondary sources of data that ultimately made him a victim of severe criticisms placing him in the framework of "armchair school". Frazer widely uses comparative methods