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AN101 Study Guide - Final Guide: Biological Anthropology, Physical Culture, Cultural Relativism

Course Code
Victor Gulewitsch
Study Guide

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Chapter 1
What is anthropology?
Anthropology is the study of human nature, human society and
human history
-“Ology” comes from the word logos-> “word”
->Anthropology is the study of people
4 Subfields to Anthropology
Biological anthropology: The specialty of anthropology that looks
at humans as a biological organism and tries to discover what
characteristics make us different from and/or similar to other living
>Races: Social groupings that allegedly reflected biological
Archaeology: The study of the human past through the analysis of
material remains
Linguistic Anthropology: The specialty of anthropology concerned
with the study of human languages
Cultural Anthropology: The specialty of anthropology that studies
how variation in beliefs and behaviors is shaped by culture and
learned by different members of human groups
Applied Anthropology: The use of information gathered from the
other anthropologist’s specialties to solve practical problems
within and between cultures

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The Challenges of Cultural Differences
Ethnocentrism: Opinion that one’s own way of life is the most
natural, correct or fully human way of life; the way people live
becomes the norm for them, so when they see the difference in the
way another culture acts they feel as though it is odd
A barrier to accept other cultures
Cultural relativism: The perspective that all cultures are equally
valid and can only be truly understood in their own terms
Ability to understand other people’s cultures without
judging it
Taking on the position that no one it to make a judgment
about another culture
Explanation of the Human Condition
Dualism: The philosophical view that really consists of two equal
and irreducible forces
Humans have physical/cultural behavior
Idealism: The philosophical view that ideas or the mind that
produces such ideas constitutes the essences of human nature
Ideas determine culture reality, more than physical culture
Spiritual, not material
Materialism: The philosophical view that the activities of our
physical bodies in the material world constitute the essence of
human nature
Food, materials, etc; help shape culture
Determinism: The philosophical view that one simple force (or a
few simple forces) cause (or determines) complex events
Essence: An unchanging core of features that is unique to things of
the same kind (whether they are chairs, cows, ideas, or people) and
makes them what they are

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The Anthropological Perspective: The Cross-disciplinary
-Holistic: Assumes that mind and body, person and society,
humans and their environment interpenetrate and define one
-Comparative: Views humans across time and space
-Evolutionary: Includes the view of co-evolution, the
relationship between biological and symbolic process
Anthropology and the Concept of Culture
-Profound impact on the evolution of human nature and
human society
-“That complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art,
morals, law, customs, and any other capabilities and habits
acquired… as a member of society” – Edward. B. Taylor
-Culture is central to the explanations of why we are what we
are, why we do what we do
-Individuals observe and then copy certain actions performed
by others
-Biocultural organisms are organisms whose defining features
are codetermines by biological and cultural factors
-Our way of interacting with the wider world is distinct for
two reasons
1) Our large, complex brains are capable of extremely intricate
open symbolic thought
2) Our hands are capable of manipulating matter in both
powerful and delicate ways
Culture vs. Cultures
Culture: being able to create ideas and activities that encourage the
survival of species
Cultures: Learned way of life belonging to a specific group of
human beings
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