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Lecture 2: The Study of Culture

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ANTH 1002
Eric Henry

Lecture 2: Chapter 1 The Study of Culture  In Plato’s Phaedo, the philosopher tells us that reality is organized on a principle of dualism: that the world is divided into two forces centered on the physical body and intangible soul  The question is for Western philosophy has been: which force represents our essence, the spiritual or the physical? Which one determines who we are?  Determinism is the idea that our natures are determined by some fundamental element; some possibilities that have been proposed are: environment, genes/biology, culture  In contrast, anthropologists adopt a holistic perspective o No one factor determines how we think and act o There are no sharp boundaries between mind, body, and environment o Instead, our ideas, thoughts, actions, and behaviours are the product of multiple influences  Anthropologists do not look for singular causes to social phenomenon, but recognize the complexity of our lives  To understand China’s national development, for instance, an anthropologist would look at the interaction of the following factors: o China’s political system o International trade o Technological change o Business rituals o Chinese ideas of family o China’s colonial history o Educational strategies o Patterns of language use  Applied anthropology uses information from any of the anthropological specialties to solve practical cross-cultural problems o This can include areas as diverse as health care and economic development, to marketing and product design The Concept of Culture  Culture is the sets of learned behaviour and ideas that human beings acquire as members of society  Humans use culture to adapt and to transform the world in which they live  Culture i
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