Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Anthropology as the Study of Mankind

The study of mankind, from an anthropological perspective, must be conducted in the total context in which life on the planet Earth exists and has evolved. The natural sciences focus on this environment and provide us with a context for the biological sciences and in turn, the narrower study of man. The Study of Mankind is one of an infinite number of perspectives or domains that we, humans, can take in trying to understand the universe in which we exist and which impact on our lives. The organizing principle of these domains (perspectives) is what I term “the ecological domain”. The ecological domain is the sum total of knowledge that any individual, a society, or a species holds at any given moment in time about the segment of the environment in which they exist and experience life as an individual, a society, or a species.

Human Ecological Domains

Human ecological domains emerge over time as the human individual, and group grows, develops and reproduces itself. As the individual ages and as the group membership changes through time and expands occupies new geographical territory the domain changes. The domains change as the individual and/or group encounters new challenges to the domain that require new solutions to new problems these challenges present. When the group membership changes, different individual and group perception and experiences also change, influencing the ecological domain. These changes create new Traditions or Traditional histories that, themselves, become incorporated in the ecological domain.
In the intellectual sphere, Anthropology is one of many ecological domains that humans have invented to address a particularly Human question: What does it mean to be “human?’  While Humans are biologically animals, they experience a unique ability to reflect upon themselves as individuals and as a species. The individual is capable of divorce itself from its body and reflect upon himself as an object. And in doing so, they reflect on their origin and purpose, individually and collectively. That is. The human animal has the ability to question his place in the overall reality of the universe and thereby seeks collective meaning for their existence.

Anthropology is a perspective derived from this philosophical speculation about MAN. It arose when Western society began to apply the principles of modern scientific thought to the question: What does it mean to be “human?’ They found that to study Human Nature scientifically, one had to study of the realities and myths of the Human Condition. Anthropology became the tool human science uses to seek understanding of the relationships between these two spheres of existence.

Anthropology is the ecological domain that looks at both the human animal and humanity as a whole. Anthropologist seek universal principles that describe and explain the commonality of the species and the factors that have lead to its success as the dominate species on the planet. At the same time it seeks to understand how the great diversity found in Homo sapiens has evolved over time and space. As an ecological domain, Anthropology constitutes a body of knowledge (experience), theory (beliefs), and priorities (values) accumulated by individuals, institutions and cultures over the past 100,000 to 1,000,000 years that the species has existed on Earth.