In the history of anthropology I have learned many new theories I have never known before, there are a great many objectives and thoughts that I had never even knew existed before. Learning about the history of anthropology has opened my mind of thinking in all these different schools of thoughts. One thing that has shocked me is that I have learned the early evolutionists had never done fieldwork, but would make assumptions.
The person that has shocked me the most is the theories Herbert Spencer. He saw the different classes of the British Empire and he wanted to know how to classify them, which is normal. He came up with a cellular difference, the rich have intelligent cells and the poor have sex cells, this seems ridiculous to me. Spencer says the only thing that should matter to the poor is survival of the fittest, why waste public money and health benefits on them when they don’t do anything. The right way out of the poor to Spencer is suicide. The things he says are so unbelievable, they have no truth, or any type of evidence to back it, because of the fact that early evolutionist did no fieldwork.
The next thing that has surprised me is the progress that appears after the enlightenment. Condorlet wrote mankind is perfectible and can progress through the expression of genius. Malthus says Condorlet was wrong, he says humanity will go down because of consumption, like food. These two theories seem a little bit strange to me. Condorlet’s theory makes sense, but what can he say about the rest of the people? Not everyone can be a Leonardo Da Vinci. Malthus worked out his theories with some type of mathematics, but his conclusion are not likely to happen and we are living proof, so what type of math did he do?
The last thing that has surprised me is the importance of Franz Boaz. In previous Anthropology classes I have had, there was little or no mention of this name. Considering he is called the father of Anthropology and he created the four sub-fields I thought I would have know more about him from previous classes. In addition, he also formally invented ethnographies and doing fieldwork, which is a big step in Anthropology because nowadays all Anthropologists do fieldwork. Also, some of the anthropology professors make you read ethnographies and they never really explained the origin of ethnographies.
It also amazes me on how the so-called father of Anthropology became and Anthropologist. He was a naturalist studying the color of seawater in the Baltic Sea. From studying this he stumbled into Anthropology and has made it a growing social science. One of his early students was Margaret Mead. She has written books about the teenage girls on the island of Samoa. Her work on this island was what gave her her fame. A man by the name of Morgan Freeman showed her work to be wrong. This was kind of funny, because Anthropologist’s had split views, which made the crossfire more interesting.
There is a great deal of things in Anthropology that can surprise and shock people. By learning more and more about it you can either clear your head or just confuse it, which is for the person to decide. Learning more and more has cleared my head in some ways, but there is a little cloud still overhead.
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