ANT204H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Moral Relativism, Cultural Relativism, Primatology

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Published on 23 Feb 2016
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Lecture 1
Comparative anthropology: comparison approach of race
! The comparative approach helps us understand a cultural group by understanding not only what it is but what it
is not. Primatology (sub-field on anthropology) is a perfect example of this. By carefully studying our closest
primate ancestors, we can learn what behaviors and biology we share (what is fundamentally 'primate') and
where those similarities end (what is fundamentally 'human').
!
Ethnocentrism: the way you are is the correct way; everyone else haven’t gotten there yet not educated enough to be
as good as you
! the belief in the inherent superiority of one's own ethnic group or culture
Cultural Relativism: my culture, but it is there yet- looks are specific practices and beliefs of other cultures, and tries
to understand it at the frame work of that culture à trying to see their system of logic
! Cultural relativism is the view that all beliefs, customs, and ethics are relative to the individual within his own
social context. In other words, “right” and “wrong” are culture-specific; what is considered moral in one
society may be considered immoral in another, and, since no universal standard of morality exists, no one has
the right to judge another society’s customs.
! Cultural relativism is widely accepted in modern anthropology. Cultural relativists believe that all cultures are
worthy in their own right and are of equal value. Diversity of cultures, even those with conflicting moral
beliefs, is not to be considered in terms of right and wrong or good and bad. Today’s anthropologist considers
all cultures to be equally legitimate expressions of human existence, to be studied from a purely neutral
perspective.
! can lead to moral relativism
! moral relativism: agreeing why their practices are acceptable
Veiling = polyvalent = lots of meanings
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Document Summary

The comparative approach helps us understand a cultural group by understanding not only what it is but what it is not. Primatology (sub-field on anthropology) is a perfect example of this. By carefully studying our closest primate ancestors, we can learn what behaviors and biology we share (what is fundamentally "primate") and where those similarities end (what is fundamentally "human"). Ethnocentrism: the way you are is the correct way; everyone else haven"t gotten there yet not educated enough to be as good as you the belief in the inherent superiority of one"s own ethnic group or culture. Cultural relativism: my culture, but it is there yet- looks are specific practices and beliefs of other cultures, and tries to understand it at the frame work of that culture trying to see their system of logic. Cultural relativism is the view that all beliefs, customs, and ethics are relative to the individual within his own social context.

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