Science of Humanity The Field of Anthropology

Ever since the dawn of man, curiosity has been part of our natural system. We have an innate thirst for knowledge, no matter how small it may seem. We have that knack for asking about things, regardless of how insignificant it may seem to our lives. This habit starts from a young age, and even as time progresses, we still continue to ask about things even if we are well into adulthood. In our world today, scientists are the ones who officially do the major research and study. To be a scientist, you must have that inquisitive nature that would help you explore new ideas. We may not all be professional scientists, but we are all born ones. Our inquisitive nature brings about new knowledge and understanding, and this will continue for as long as we exist.

Our hunt for knowledge is not focused on only one thing. The data that we have gathered over the years have been divided into different divisions or sciences. Each of these sciences has their own focus and specializations (subfields). It is quite surprising how much knowledge have been gathered over the years, and up until now, new fields are being developed. These fields have been conventionalized and have been taught in universities, so as to breed new scientists for the age.
One of the fascinating sciences that exist is anthropology. This paper will discuss what anthropology is, what its beginnings were, and what its main focus is.

The Study of Humans
Anthropology deals with studying the humankind. It has its interests in the way we think, act, speak, and feel. It looks deep into our beliefs, traditions, social connections and kinships. It studies how we interact with others and what characteristics we exhibit.

This study has, over the years, encompassed many subject matters that it has developed a number of specialized fields. These specialized fields focus on specific aspects of human existence, still incorporating the basic knowledge of the anthropology. There are six specializations listed in this discussion. These are 1) physical anthropology 2) ethnology or cultural anthropology 3) social anthropology 4) linguistic anthropology 5) psychological anthropology and 6) archaeology.

Physical Anthropology
This branch of anthropology deals more on the biological and the anatomical aspects of human beings. It is more interested in the human evolution and physical development. It also discusses the biological differences that we have with other species. What are the main differences among different groups of people What separates us from the other species thriving on earth, past and present Gender, adaptation and race are but a few of the interests of physical anthropology.

Ethnology or Cultural Anthropology
Compared to physical anthropology, ethnology focuses on the changes in the cultural systems of human beings over time. The traditions, beliefs, rituals and that all concerns the cultural side of human society are studied by cultural anthropologists. This has a subfield that studies folklore, music and myth to further understand the cultural transition of humans through the ages.

Social Anthropology
This is closely related to cultural anthropology. This area discusses the social aspects of human beings. This deals with how humans interact within a certain society, how they apply what they know of their culture and upbringing in the presence of others, through different times. Together with cultural anthropology, social anthropology has given insight to the different changes that have happened to our culture and our society, and how these have helped in our growth and development.

Linguistic Anthropology
As can be deduced from its title, this area deals with human language. This focuses on the ability of humans to communicate with each other using distinct verbal communicators (i.e. words, signs, text). This also analyzes the languages of different races all around the world.

Psychological Anthropology
This deals with the thinking and the perceptions of a human with regards to his culture and his society. As what is stated in its name, this focuses on the psychological aspect of the existence of humans through the times.

It is not only the present or the living human beings that anthropology can study. Through the aid of tools, scientists were and are able to obtain evidence of humans of the past. Bones, pottery, jewelry, and even cities unearthed by skilled hands can be analyzed so as to determine the social and cultural life of those who have lived way before our time. This can be said to be a combination of the other fields of anthropology, only that it dwells more on the interpretation of the past, and the relationship it has with the present and the future.

History of Anthropology
The study of human beings, in general, has its origins in the 1860s. This was the time when advances in prehistoric archaeology, biology and philology. One of the propagators of anthropology is Charles Darwin. In his On the Origin of Species (published in 1859), he said that humans have a common ancestor. Later on, in his work The Descent of Man (released in 1871), this common ancestor was the great African ape, and fossil finds of early humans supported this claim. Darwin added that the advantage of humans is our big brains and our intelligence.

According to Edward Burnett Tylor, a pioneering anthropologist, the more intelligent we get, the more we progress. The civilizations that have preceded us and indeed even us can be grouped into divisions with respect to the significant changes to our culture and society. Thus we have the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, the Iron Age, etc.

During the advent of anthropology, the first anthropologists had to rely on information given by others to come up with reports and data with regards to human dealings. In the late 19th century, expeditions were done, often funded by museums, to gather more ethnographic information. In the early 20th century, a more investigative and forward approach was implemented by anthropologists. Instead of just relying on secondary sources, they progressed to actually working on the field. Aside from conducting interviews, they now also observed how people talked, behaved and moved in society. This proved to have given a revolutionary step in the theoretical focus of the historical and evolutionary interests of the century.

Focus on Social Change
As we have discussed earlier, anthropology focuses on the study of human beings in general. This includes the past, the present and the future dealings of humans. If we take note of each of the subfields of anthropology, we will see that its main concern lies with the society and the changes that happen and affect it. These changes may involve language, beliefs, perceptions, traditions, etc. Anthropology deals with humans and humans are grouped or belong to societies. Social change therefore, in whatever aspect it may be, is a part of the said study, or even, the main focus of it.

Throughout the years, anthropologists have studied how we humans interact with each other. They have observed the relationship between our actions and our words. They have recorded our way of living and have watched how we have changed over time. It is not enough to just note the current state of a particular society and leave it at that. It is more adequate to also take note of evolutions in the human race.

Why though, is it important to consider social change This is because this may give clues to what we could assume for the future. What will we be like 20, 50, 100 years from now Will we be able to continue to survive on this earth for another millennia Also, social change gives us an idea of how much we have progressed in the years that we have inhabited this planet. Being gifted with a brain and a culture, we are able to adapt to changing times and environment. This ability to adapt to varying conditions has been our key for survival. This is also what separates us from the other species that inhabit the earth, past and present. Culture as a factor for change and development and the historical patterns and processes associated with it thus makes it the major focus of anthropology.

Anthropology deals with the study of human beings and their dealings in society. This field has subfields which focus on specific aspects of human existence. If we take a look at each of them, we will see that the bottom line or purpose of anthropology as a whole is to take note of the social change of human beings. Throughout history, it has been found that our actions, behaviors, perceptions, cultures and the changes associated with them have contributed to our growth and development. We have been given gifts that help us advance and progress into the future. Like what has been mentioned before, the more knowledge we possess, the more we develop. Anthropology has given us clues with what lay in our past, what beginnings we have had. And it will continue to do its job, this time with preparing us for the coming future.


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