Alfred Kroeber's Theory Of Culture

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The word “culture” is used in many different contexts and by many different disciplines. Although it is a concept that is constantly being used, it does not have a solid definition. If there is a definition of culture, it has changed many times throughout history, especially throughout the history of anthropology. Alfred Kroeber once said that culture, in the sense of a “set of attributes and products of human societies, and therewith of mankind, which are extrasomatic and transmissible by mechanisms other than biological heredity…did not exist anywhere in 1750” (Harris 1968:9). In essence, Kroeber is saying that the concept of culture did not even exist in the year 1750 and in the years before. I do not agree with Kroeber. I think that …show more content…
It is during this Enlightenment period that Kroeber states that the concept of culture did not exist. It has been noted that the terms “culture” and “civilization” were seen during the eighteenth century but a more modern concept of culture was not seen until the nineteenth century (Harris 1968:9). Contradictory to Kroeber’s statements, the concept and theory of culture was actually viewed as a major theme during the Enlightenment period, which preceded the French Revolution (Harris 1968:10). It seems that even during the eighteenth century, there was an idea of what culture was/is, although Harris does not make what that idea was very …show more content…
He had a large impact on the turn toward more historical data collection, which he felt would lead to the improvement of anthropological theory (Harris 1968:262). Boas thought culture was tied to a groups history and not to biology. Neo-Kantian philosopher Wilhelm Dilthey believed that, “the path to the understanding of the inner life lies through the study of an individual’s history” (Harris 1968:269). This is related to Boas’ study and research with history. To truly understand one’s culture one had to first have a thorough knowledge of one’s history. The history of that individual or group shaped their culture. Boas felt that there was a weak relationship between the individual and culture when it came to research. He therefore encouraged some of his students to focus on that relationship. “The problems of the relation of the individual to his culture, to the society in which he lives have received too little attention” (Harris

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