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Nature of Anthro.sts

Nature of Anthro.sts

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Published by Sheila G. Dolipas

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Published by: Sheila G. Dolipas on Jun 19, 2012
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There is no other science that deals more on the nature of man than Anthropology.Anthropology is a holistic science, which emphasizes the organic or functionalrelation of different parts of society and the different aspects of humanexperiences. Anthropology encompasses a very broad spectrum touching most areasof human endeavor. It has branched out into specialized studies and areascovered by other social sciences using holistic approach. According to Ember,anthropologist insists on taking “…many aspects of human existence both past andpresent, and in all levels of complexity.” (Ember and Ember, 1981)
Characteristics of Anthropology
One important aspect of Anthropology is its insistence that conclusions should bebased on a comparative study of society all over the world. Anthropologytranscends the interest of any particular culture or society. It studies theirdifferences and similarities. All societies are evaluated on their own right tobe different and unique from each other.Anthropology studies culture and societies be they primitive, preliterate ormodern, past and presenting its holistic form. Anthropology tries to explainfundamental questions that usually trouble mankind like the origin of injustice,racism, sexism and the significance of mankind’s animal heritage. (Harris,1980:4) As such it encompasses the whole study of mankind, past and present.It is this claim of Anthropology which has been overlapping with areas covered bythe study of other social sciences especially Sociology. Anyway, the socialsciences try to utilize the findings of each other.
Division of Anthropology
The field of Anthropology can be divided into two main areas: the Physicaland Socio-cultural Anthropology.Physical Anthropology. This area is concerned with human evolution and humanvariations. It deals primarily with the study of man’s physical characteristicsas it evolves from the different points in time. Physical Anthropology studiesthe emergence of man. It reconstruct various information from the physical andbiological sciences to develop theories to explain changes in the fossil remainsof man evaluate these theories by comparing the data gathered by differentscientist (Human Paleontology). Physical Anthropology deals with the study ofhuman differences among living populations. It attempts to explain factors thatcause variations among the human population. Physical Anthropology studiesheredity; how it works, how it changes and how it is modified. PhysicalAnthropology also studies the effects of the environment and its interaction withthe population characteristics. Physical Anthropology studies primates (monkeysand apes) to understand the origin of man’s social and the beginning of culture.Social and Cultural Anthropology. This area studies the origins and history ofhuman societies and cultures. It studies societies and culture through time andat a given point of time. Socio-cultural Anthropology studies societies andcultures by looking at the similarities between different cultures that are alikeor similar. Socio-cultural Anthropology is subdivided into Archeology,Ethnology, Anthropological Linguistics and Applied Anthropology. Archeology isthe systematic and organized study of man’s cultural past. It reconstructs the
past by arranging the artifacts chronologically through the help of the differenttechniques of dating from the biological and physical sciences. Archeologytraces cultural changes in different societies and provides explanations forthese changes.While the Archeologist is interested in knowing the past culture, Ethnologyis interested in knowing contemporary societies and cultures. Ethnologyseeks to understand and to explain how and why people differ in their waysof living. Ethnology studies similarities and differences between differentsocieties and cultures at different point of time and at a given time.There are two types of ethnologists: the ethnographer and the ethnohistorian. The ethnographer is concerned basically in a detaileddescriptive study and explanation of the many aspects of the customarybehavior and practice of the different people he has observed. The ethnohistorian, on the other hand is more interested in studying the changes thatoccur in a given culture at different points of time. He studies writtendocument, reports, accounts, diaries, writings and government records toestablish sequence of events and changes in the culture of a given people.Unlike the historians, he reconstructs history of a people who might nowhave left written records. Anthropological linguistics is interested inknowing the origin, development and structure of the different languages ofthe world, past and present. It studies descriptions of a language and theways the language develops and influences each other with the passing oftime. It studies similarities and differences between languages and notesthe interrelationships between language of the people and its influence onthe on the other aspects of culture.Applied anthropology is a sub-area of Cultural Anthropology. It utilizes thefindings of other anthropologists to solve contemp[orary socio-economic andpolitical problems. Applied anthropology tests anthropological theories andresearch methods. Application of anthropological theories and researchmethods are usually made in underdeveloped countries where planned changesare being implemented. Most applied anthropologists involve themselves inplanned changes in the areas of public health, agriculture and culturalintegration of cultural minorities or migrants.
Alexander Pope in his “An Essay of Man” wrote that the proper study of mankind isman. This statement would mean that if we want to learn about man, we shouldstudy man. But anthropologists believed that to know more about man and hisnature, they have to study his near relatives and his ancestors. Hence the studyof primates and fossils of man to throw more light about man’s biologicalbackground and to seek more about pre-human roots of social and physicalexistence.
The goal of Primatology, the study of primates( such as tarsiers, lemurs,monkeys, and apes), is to understand how different primates have adaptedanatomically and behaviorally to their environments. All living primatesincluding humans evolved from earlier primates that are now extinct. So byobserving the living primates of today, their differences and resemblance, we maybe able to infer how and why humans diverged from the other primates.
Geologists are students of the earth’s history. Their study show that the earthis not uniform but consists of sequence of strata or layers of minerals laid downin the past by wind water or volcanoes. In an undisturbed deposit, the lowestlayer is the oldest and the topmost layer, the most recent. But earthquakes mayjumble the layers; rivers may cut through them, and redeposit them in a differentorder. On this basis geologists have set up series of periods in the history ofthe earth.Geologic time is the time scale that covers the earth’s entire geologic historyfrom its origin to the present the earth’s age falls between 4.5 to 4.6 billionyears. The geologic time scale breaks the age of the earth into distinctintervals of varying lengths. The longest intervals are eons. Each eon issubdivided into eras. Each era is made up of periods, which are further dividedinto epochs.A.PRECAMBRIANThe PRECAMBRIAN ERA lasted for about 4.5 billion years. It began withthe formation of the earth and ended about 600 million years ago.B.PALEOZOICPALEOZOIC (pay*lee*uh*ZOH*ik) means ancient life. This era beganabout 600 million years and ended about 230 million years ago. Itsbeginning is marked by the sudden appearance of abundant fossil.C. MESOZOICMESOZOIC ( mez*uh*ZOH*ik), meaning, “middle life”. It lasted for about160 million years. During this vast time span, great changes occurred in theearth’s plants and animals.D.CENOZOICThe CENOZOIC (see*nuh*ZOH*ik), meaning “recent life”, began about 70million years ago and has not yet ended. It is the era in which you live.Fossils and the rock record show that many of today’s mountain ranges andplateaus were lifted up during this era.
The MIOCENE, PLIOCENE, and PLIOTOCENE epochs are of criticalimportance of man’s immediate past history and Pleistocene geology iscrucial for the study of man for this is the period in which the hominoid finally evolved. It is the time that tested and stimulated the adaptivecapabilities of man and hastened his evolutionary development.

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