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Department
Anthropology
Course
ANTH 3320
Professor
Arun Chaudhuri
Semester
Winter

Description
05/12/2013 23:46:00 Darwin and the voyage of the HMS Beagle: Darwin in 1930 made his voyage and these were famous expeditions in order to go out in the world and study all things like plants animals etc and they went around south America – associated with evolution and natural selection and many of these theories were formed from these expeditions. He also had other ideas brewing at the time (which were present in these journals on the voyage), parts of these ideas were about the observations that he made about a group of peoples (indigenous). One group of people that struck him were the people that were in tierra del fuego –he didn’t think to highly of these people, he reflected an attitude that was prevalent at his time (they’re like animals etc) –this is reflecting what is now known as unilineal social evolution: type of idea which is a misapplication of evolution; it was about social and cultural difference (rather than the physiological change of organism that Darwin talked about) –that societies were following one path of evolution (certain set fixed stages) and start out as small primitive into complex industrial states (europeans served as the pinnacle of the social evolution) therefore the assumption becomes that anyone that isn’t like them was inferior or primitive or lower state. –this idea has been rejected by modern scholars (ethnocentrism: placing your on culture or society has central and ideal). It is also assumed with this idea that evolution is progressive or becomes better or improves (for ex morally etc –the more euro the society progressed to be the more improved). Unilieanl social was prevalent in the ways early theorists were th thinking in the 19 century which was seen when these theorists tried to establish the origin of religion (which is a difficult task because it is subjective/problamatic) Edward burnett tylor: animism: refers to the belief that all things are animated by a spirit of some sort and this belief can be observed all around the world, but it interested early theorists because they believed that this th was the oldest religion in the world –where it all started. Tylor -19 ce has a book called primitive culture-his work became famous for his attempt to establish a theory on culture and it was influential and promoted the idea of unilineal. For him animism was the earliest religion and made an argument on how animistic religion actually began (or thinking) and he claimed that there were two things that led people to believe in animistic thinking: 1) question of death 2) phenomenon of dreams. These issues caused them to ask themselves questions and about what they meant or what happens (what happens to people when they die etc) and in response to these questions they came up with a theory of the soul (the people) which means when people first imagined that living things had something going inside their body (an extra being? Or spirit) but they weren’t tied to the body (when they’re dreaming you’re seeing someone else’s soul because they aren’t there physically). This was also a way of answering why they saw what they couldn’t physically see or the answer to the questions before). He arbitrarily thought that animistic was the oldest thinking or earliest which came from the uni framework –these were just mistaken assumptions to make sense of things and how they weren’t like euros who knew what happened. However there is no way that tylor could know what was going on back in the day or that they were questioning these things – he wasn’t there. His ideas were really influential though and this is where the idea of primitive religion really takes off. One of the theorists he had a real influence on was frazer. James George Frazer: was famous for his massive collection of writing: the golden bough. He followed in many of tylors assumptions and thinking (unilineal, primitive, wanting to find the origin etc) what he emphasized more than tylor was that there still are savage cultures that still exist today and that you can study these people in order to get information about people in the past and compare them with civilized people. He also focuses on the idea of magic (as a window to animism) and that this was the hallmark of primitive religious thinking. He said people started off in the age of magic (phase of development all societies go through). Law of cc/s.i, these existed in this early time of magic. C magic refers to a magical act in which someone tries to affect something by acting on something that has come into contact with that something. Homeopathic: doing some kind of imitation of that something (ex of people in peru –attack by making grain and using animal meat flesh andburning that image). What concerened him was what he thought of the overall logic –why people believed these things and why engage in them and what it came down to was that these magival practices represented a primitive form of science –such practices were misguided efforts to take control of laws of nature or the science we now know of –its an attempt to do what science does and they get it wrong because they don’t understand the underlying principles of science and so its based on faulty associations between these actions and the natural things that happen in the world. Magic begins to be abandoned and that this happens when people realize that magic doesn’t work and this gives way to religion –a way in which people appeal to higher beings or supernatural beings and find this insufficient and then go to science (ultimate form of truth). In a sense hes talking about how magic and science are similar in a way (control aspects of the natural procceses and the world, and kind of try to do the same thing but theyre different as well –fake vs true associations between thigns). Hes been widely criticized. –does magic really disappear because it still exists in the world poses a threat to his argument, superstitions, people still like things like that, ethnocentric/unilieal, Practice of bloodletting – popular in europe and it was seen as letting illness out and was thought of as scientific albeit now it isn’t therefore science isn’t has objective as it is meant to be. Sigmund Freud: a lot of people don’t take him seriously –he was also interested in theorigin of religion but in terms of psychological processes (others were kind of as well, but his more derived from psyche). He emphasized the neurotic tendencies of the time –refer to strange behaviours, anxieties etc (or all the things that he would refer to psychological afflictions).-all humans went through an underlying process of psycholigcal processes (they would go through psychosexual stages and there would be fixations if overindulged or not given enough). These neurotic tendencies would occur if there was fixation (which is caused by the conflict bt the unc and c). omnipotence of thought: people suffering from neuroticism over evaluate psychic acts (people over emphasize the power of their own thoughts and getting lost in their own heads etc). what does this hav to do w religion –connection between human conditions (neurotic ones) and the origin of religion which was done by extending his psychosexual stages to culture or society as a whole (that they would go through this similar development –primitive to civilized). He saw similarities between people who are neurotic and primitive peo
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