What is anthropology?

We explain what anthropology is and how this science arises. In addition, summary of its history and the branches of current anthropology.

  1. What is anthropology?

Anthropology is a social science , which focuses on the study of man in its integral form . Another definition refers to the study of the human being in its different historical forms.

The concept comes from the Greek language, more precisely from the term “anthropos” which is the conjunction of “human” and “logos” that means knowledge .

This science uses other disciplines , that is, it draws on concepts and techniques that cover the biological evolution of the human species , sociology. , cultural studies, ethnology, etc.

Anthropology today contains several scientific subdivisions that are specifications emerged with the historical development of this science:

  • Linguistics
  • Physical anthropology
  • Social anthropology
  1. Anthropology History

The origin of anthropology as an independent science was from the mid-nineteenth century. From the theoretical framework that meant a revolution for the advancement of modern science as was the theory of evolution of Charles Darwin .

This influence, typical of the construction of the scientific thinking of biology , had a strong impact on the development of social sciences.

Anthropology thus also adopted an evolutionary conception , which understood that the path of human activity was similar, in its beginnings, to simple organic systems, to incipient animal species, and that the advent and development had to be studied from these towards the most complex forms, these similar to the most evolved species.

Social and cultural behavior, at that time, was understood in the same way, studying its development, therefore, the example to follow was that of the most advanced societies.

At the end of the 19th century, criticism fell on this conception, almost completely collapsing it. It was when ethnology emerged , that is, the study of qualitatively distinguished cases, which makes it possible to accept and at the same time analyze human beings in small societies , and not therefore considered “backward” in terms of their development, but culturally different .

The observation and fieldwork are the tools methodological having the anthropologist to understand what the shared meanings and functioning as culturally . This operation is sustained by the daily interaction of the human beings participating in a particular society.

  1. Branches of anthropology

Philosophical anthropology studies man in relation to his past, present and future.

We can also distinguish other branches, which are part of current anthropology, for example:

  • Philosophical Anthropology.  It is a branch of philosophy , mainly of German orientation, which deals with uncertainties of an ontological nature. The centrality of this study lies in the inquiry into the existence of man, in relation to his past, present and future.
  • Economic anthropology  They are human points of view in relation to the social processes and effects of capitalist economic activity. The modern market is the main framework that has been globalized and conditions the human being by pressing it from social exteriority.
  • Forensic anthropology.  He specializes in human bone aspects, in relation to biological and historical science, comprising the state of the skeleton according to the marks and causes of his death . He works together with specialists in criminology and forensic doctors.
  • Genetic anthropology  It stands out for the technical study of human evolution, compared to the rest of the species, pointing out in molecular studies.

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