Week 2           Weekly Topics

Weekly Topics and subtopics

Week 2 reading 19th Century notes

19th Century

The 19th Century was a time of great change. Population growth changed from linear to cubic to exponential. Monarchies fell. The role of religion in government withered in the West. Technological progress was astounding, and the status of science elevated. Secular philosophies florished, and secular sciences expanded dramatically. Psychology was established. Anthropology was established. The list goes on: modern geology, organic chemistry, electricity, photography. This amazing age also saw the publication of the Origin of Species, a work that firmly established humanity's connection with the rest of life and influenced many secular thinkers.

Hypothesis of mechanism for evolution promoted by Lamarck 1803ADThe swan song of creation science 1812ADFirst photographs 1826ADFirst prehuman fossil found (not immediately recognized) 1829ADGeology proves an old Earth 1830ADLeft and Right Hegelians 1831ADNatural selection discussed 1831AD'Fossil man' hypothesized 1841ADChambers: Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation 1844ADGorillas discovered by the scientific community 1847ADSecond prehuman fossil (not immediately recognized) 1848ADCommunist Mannifesto penned 1848ADPleistocene archaeology discovered with 'Pleistocene Man' 1849ADFirst ethnography describing kinship terms and cultural structure 1851ADNeanderthal cranium discovered and recognized as important 1856ADWallace writes letter about natural selection to Darwin 1858ADOrigin of Species 1859AD'Psychic unity of mankind' discussed 1860ADEarths age stated to be between 20 and 400 million years old 1863ADCultural anthropology book 1861ADHomo neanderthalensis named 1864ADCulture defined in its modern sense 1874ADFrancis Galton coins phrase Nature vs. nurture 1874ADHerber Spencer conceives social Darwinism 1864ADAthiesm and nihilism 1882ADHomo erectus discovered 1891ADPerception of the unconscious mind 1896ADAmerican anthropology founded 1896AD

1860AD 'Psychic unity of mankind' discussed

Adolf Bastian, the father of German Anthropology, discusses the essential similarity of all humans psychologically. This concept is integral to the distinction of culture as learned behavior vs. culture as an attribute of a refined society.

Bastian is remembered as one of the pioneers of the concept of the 'psychic unity of mankind' ? the idea that all humans share a basic mental framework. This became the basis in other guises of 20th century structuralism, and influenced Carl Jung's idea of the collective unconscious. He also argued that the world was divided up into different 'geographical provinces' and that each of these provinces moved through the same stages of evolutionary development. According to Bastian, innovations and culture traits tended not to diffuse across areas. Rather, each province took its unique form as a result of its environment. This approach was part of a larger nineteenth century interest in the 'comparative method' as practiced by anthropologists such as Edward B. Tylor.

For Bastian, empiricism meant a rejection of philosophy in favor of scrupulous observations. As a result, he was extremely hostile to Darwin's theory of evolution because the physical transformation of species had never been empirically observed, despite the fact that he posited a similar evolutionary development for human civilization. Additionally, he was much more concerned with documenting unusual civilizations before they vanished (presumably as a result of contact with Western civilization) than with the rigorous application of scientific observation.


More information