Categories Uncategorized

I.1.2 Anthropology and philosophy

Philosophy is a humanistic discipline that attempts to explain life in its many situations. It is divided into many different subfields or subjects such as morality, reality, language, logic, etc. It is term that can be applied in a general (universal) or specific (situational or cultural) sense. Methodologically, Philosophy is based on intuition, applied to personal experience at one extreme, and logical analysis based on mathematics at the other extreme.

Anthropology is a scientific and humanistic discipline that studies humanity as a physical biological organism and a social animal that is self aware. Anthropologists study how humans have and are able to consciously influence the environment by combining their physical (existential) uniqueness and their mental development that creates a unique “world view”  based on their individual/group experiences through time.

Anthropologists study humanity through direct observation and participation with their subjects. They document their findings in reports. By comparing the findings these reports document they seek to establish relationships via the comparative method. Such relationships range from unique features shared by the human animal; and, the identify differences between peoples based on how they explain life and natural world that they experience and have experienced. Anthropology is thus both scientific (a philosophical point of view that requires the validation and objective measurement of phenomena) and humanistic (a philosophical point of view that emphasizes the individual’s interpretation of experience).

They are similar because they both follow the scientific method. Philosophy is the first step in science to seek a theory as a first guess. Once results are available it becomes science, the old name being natural philosophy. Cultural Anthropology is like geography, not easy to construct experiments but plenty of data is available in the field.

  • Observe,
  • guess,
  • correlate with observations to explain if it tallies up using all scientific methods available.

The paradigm shift gave ways to new scientific disciplines, s. a. psychology, sociology, and anthropology. It is thus natural to consider them strictly connected with philosophy – at least in the modern sense we gave to it – since they received their status and raison d’etre from a philosophical speculation; nevertheless, they demands independency from it, by producing facts and figures only empirical observation and on-field research could provide, in order to ward off those ambiguities human evolution must avoid to progress: after all, a skeptical attitude toward life would easily sentence that “philosophy do not produce facts, but only theories”.

Cultural studies are specific knowledge produced by these branches of modern science: many anthropologists dedicate themselves to them in order to give their work a broader sense. It seems that anytime the adjective cultural is linked to anthropology, a bridge is settled between fields that have been kept separated by theoretical debates and critical seizures.

Leave a Reply