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Class Notes Tuesday Sept.10.docx

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ANTH 3690
Marta Rohatynskyj

Class Notes Tuesday Sept. 10 2013 The concept of evolution The medieval synthesis -religion: emphasizes God above nature and people -who are we? How did we get here? Why? -creation -humanism: emphasizes people above nature and God -people centered approach -historians of western civilization would argue that humanism came into consciousness so that men became the measure of the universe -science: emphasizes nature above people and God -humanity was no longer seen as the measure of man -natural phenomena The uniqueness of theory in the Social Sciences -we must recognize that the notion of progress is readily measured in the physical and natural sciences i.e. life expectancy, amount of energy harnessed -how do we measure progress in the social sciences? -greater political equality among people? -less conflict and was in the world? -efficient redistribution of natural resources with a given Information vs. Knowledge -information is just facts, anyone can give you this, it may be false, may be true, etc… -as students we must evaluate this information critically -information is a description of some observable phenomena or unobservable phenomena – anything I say about anything is information -we live in a clutter of information -knowledge require a change of behavior, a change of perspective -a systematic framework used to order information -gaining of knowledge results in a transformation of the individuals extant framework – a change in behavior -M. Strathern – a shift in the level of abstraction about a given “fact” Anthropological knowledge -the start of anthropological knowledge can e seen as the application of the scientific method to social phenomena -but social and cultural phenomena “talk back” – the researcher becomes entangled in the data – a question of subjectivity -the progression of social theory seems to be interrupted by reversals – positions that were rejected in one generation may be taken up again in the next -social and cultural theories compete for attention with cultural beliefs -race is not scientific The Structure of Scientific Revolutions -there is a period of competing paradigms -acceptance or rejection is determined by social factors not rational argument and evidence Two important points: 1. the process of science as a social phenomena already removes it from its privileged position 2. demonstrating irrational elements as accounting for acceptance or rejection of scientific knowledge destroys the rule of rational thought Key ideas of evolutionary thought 1. progress –arose with the enlightenment -there is some movement and improvement from the beginings to the present -what criteria can we use to judge this movement or improvement – size, complexity -people tend to speak of small scale societies as opposed to large ones -simple societies as opposed to complex ones -the assumption is that the culture of the people is equally small or simple in relation to our culture -there was a conflation of biological development and cultural development -less developed peoples were relegated to the past 2. superiority and the psychic unity of mankind -another idea that all humans share the same psychic make-up -some have managed to evolve further along the evolutionary line and in this lies their superiority -to encourage less evolved people to customs and practices of the superior ranks is to force and evolution on them -they are not ready for it and need to go through the phases that we have in order to move forward -in time everyone will reach our standard 3. superiority and survival of the fittest -social Darwinism was prior to darwins formulation of evolution through natural selection -social Darwinism argued that there is competition amou
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