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Choose Any One Theory Perspective In Anthropology And Give Its Strength And Weakness Towards Understanding Humanity

1166 words - 5 pages


In a bid to fully understand the subject of anthropology, a number of theories have been coined, In as much these theories which takes in Marxism, Functionalism, Evolution perspective among other have done justice in their attempt to give light on the subject of humanity, they have been found wanting in some respects. This essay will discuss the evolution perspective and show its strength and weaknesses.
Anthropology is defined by Wolf E (1994) as the study of humans which takes a ...view middle of the document...

His main argument was that people with higher physical and mental traits make greater social advances, and in turn those living in more developed societies have experiences that further promote their intellectual faculties. Characteristics of primitive thinking that he enumerated were, a lack of conception of general facts, of ability to anticipate future, limited concepts, no abstract ideas or ideas of causality - but acute senses, quick perceptions, quick imitative learning of simple ideas, child-like thinking and rapid development reaching an early limit. Spencer extended these ideas to origin and abilities of lower socio-economic classes within the industrialized nations.
Another authority who also added his input to this theory according to Kottak C.P. (2010) is Wilhem Wundt who believed that primitive and civilized man had the same intellectual capabilities but that they just exercised them differently. He adds that his main thrust was to find psychological explanations based on data from ethnology. He contrasted stages, such as ``primitive'', ``totemic'', ``age of heroes and gods'' and ``enlightened age of humanity'', and associated each with a distinctive type of thinking.
The evolution perspective also benefited from the contribution of Edward Taylor, according to Taylor emphasized much on empirical work rather than speculation and he also mounted a rationalistic attack on divine inspirations and religious beliefs. Taylor is also said to have defined culture as a complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society. This definition emphasized the learnt and therefore changeable, as opposed to the inherited characteristics of different peoples. Taylor believed that all groups harbor vestiges of past practices eg saying ``God bless you'' on sneezing and that behavior can be understood when seen in past and present context he adds that even the most irrational customs are products of reasoning. This ``rational'' view of culture was basic to the evolutionary viewpoint. Taylor also believed in evolutionary scheme of cultures thus savagery, barbarism and civilization.
Lewis Henry Morgan also added his input to this perspective, his input according to Harris M (2000) was nothing more than elaborating on Taylors three major stages found in the evolutionary scheme. He pointed out that savagery was divided into the phases and that the lower stage was the origin of human race and that it was characterized by subsistence on wild plants. The second stage he said was characterized by fishing and the upper stage of savagery...

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