anthro101lec02.jan09 - Anthropology 101 Lecture 02...

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Anthropology 101 01.09.08 Lecture 02 Introduction to Anthropology: Anthropology as a Moral Enterprise I . A. Anthropology defined 1. The study of the human condition; 2. the holistic exploration of what it means to be a human being 3. by understanding humanity's past, present, and future 4. through an understanding of biology, language, culture, and society. B. One anthropologist’s view of the human condition: “...the nature of humanity, a species that lives, and can only live, in terms of meanings it must construct in a world devoid of intrinsic meaning but subject to physical law.” Roy Rappaport (this version from the introduction to his book on ritual) C. What can it do for you 1. enlarge possibilities for exploring/understanding the self 2. provide knowledge for encountering the world, esp. a world of complexity & multi-cultural experience, globalization--encountering and judging II . Relativism (Is anthropology bad for your soul?) A. This relates to the popular critique of relativism: relativism as "anything goes" or B. But this misreads relativism as anthropologists use it 1. for anthropologists, relativism simply means withholding judgement, restraining bias : first step in understanding is to see the world as those you want to understand see it : imagine their position 2. cultural relativism is based on a faith that we are all human, that what we share as human is greater than what separates us : "generosity of spirit" : dropping preconceptions to understand C. Cultural relativism doesn't mean you can't judge or that there is no truth--it is not amoral (without morals) Anthropology as a moral discipline. Anthropology directly links truth & value; some examples of powerful moral truths in anthropology: : Boas on immigrants contemporary arguments (The Bell Curve) : the human situation--a universal truth we are all social animals; we require society, human company to exist; a moral argument follows from this: we must live together 1
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Anthropology 101 01.09.08 Lecture 02 Introduction to Anthropology: Anthropology as a Moral Enterprise III . Back to holism. A. Examples of approaches to understanding: 1. Example of Economics & Anthropology--take the Tamang case of butchering a goat 2. Example of Political Science & Anthropology--take the case of marriage between groups B. This suggests a tactic of looking at anthropology in terms of its special perspective, one unique in the social sciences or humanities --> Notion of reductionism contrasted with holism --> kinds of reductionism: 1. Reducing the range of relevant problems 2. Reducing the range of causes 3. Not recognizing the diversity of motivations 4. Ethnocentrism Economics (for example) can be thought of as investigating a small number of
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This note was uploaded on 04/04/2008 for the course ANTHRO 101 taught by Professor Peters during the Winter '08 term at University of Michigan.

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anthro101lec02.jan09 - Anthropology 101 Lecture 02...

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