A. L. KROEBER. University of California. Search for more papers by this author. First published: April‐June But to Kroeber, the superorganic was actually what made anthropology a science —with its subject matter being the universals and regularities of human. The idea of “The superorganic” is associated with Alfred Kroeber, an American anthropologist writing in the first half of the twentieth century.

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Do not anthropomorphise culture. It may have a life of its own, but its life more resembles an amoeba than a human. Looking at the relationship between living things and their inorganic components in this way helps us to understand the relationship between culture and persons. Dear Robin, Thanks for writing.

And yet it is little read today. Rather, culture operates on its own level of determination.

I hope that this will become one of a series of papers which present early anthropological theory in a form that is accessible to everyone. But if the organic causes the mental, the mental does not, then, cause supeorrganic cultural. If other minds want to publish in the series, then they can do so too — who knows what projects they may want to cook up….

The original essay is around 19, words.

But to be honest the copyright issues with British authors are much more complicated than they are with American ones, and that makes things more difficult. If a peoples e. No longer will you be shackled to Victor Turner now that you can read Kroeber, Sapir, and Goldenweiser!

One quick note, folks: On the contrary DJ — this was designed to introduce you to the anthropology you always wanted to do but never knew existed! Much Boasian thought is now in the public domain, but is difficult to find and inconvenient to read. Kroeber occupies several positions here, and the loose ends in this section of his argument would be taken up by future thinkers. Kroebeer position anticipates current work on culture as an emergent phenomena.


Savage Minds

Those are carried by individuals. The current approach is to protect isolated peoples as much as possible, to initiate contact only as a last resort.

This is of course a highly ambiguous situation, in essence forcing people to live in imposed isolation. With regard to isolated peoples, each South American country has its own unique and varied history with regards to indigenous peoples and their rights, and these varied historical policies directly affect their approach to the specific case of isolated peoples.

Predictably, Kroeber argues that organic racial difference cannot affect the growth of civilization.

But in doing so, he argues, we miss the cultural dimension of conduct that makes human lives so unique. There is a parallel, therefore, in the relations between the inorganic and the organic, as between the organic and the superorganic.

Culture as the superorganic

On the one hand, Kroeber sees the mental lives of individuals as the biological substrate on which culture writes itself. So hard to find good materials that draw students into particular debates or key ideas. Do not think of a dog as a carbon atom or a hydrocarbon molecule. At the same time, Kroeber argues, art and literature conveys truths rhe are enduring, but which are aesthetic and not scientific.

And frankly, once must already know what is in it in krosber to know it is worth finding in the first place.

“The Superorganic,” or Kroeber’s hidden agenda.

Please feel free to share widely! But he also argues that individual organic endowment cannot affect civilization. All living things, plants and animals, are built up of inorganic elements, mainly hydrogen, oxygen and carbon, plus some trace elements. Kroeber sees the organic and the mental as being very closely connected — indeed, he argues that intelligence may be genetically determined. In a few cases I have altered verbs and nouns for agreement when deleting text caused them to disagree.


Similarly, do not think of a community, an institution, a society as a human being. Folks, today I am beginning something new: Originally published in in American Anthropologistthe article drew important responses from Edward Sapir and Alexander Goldenweiser.

There are many reasons: They behave, however, in concert with each supeorrganic, as a system external to individuals —— society. It operates at a higher level of complexity than the organic. I will keep going until I complete a free anthology suitable for classroom use, or tye I get bored.

Kroeber begins the sulerorganic by asking the question: I have cut it down to just under 8, Finally, Kroeber argues that the legitimacy of anthropology or history, these terms are used interchangeably in a way that modern readers may find strange is tied to the existence of culture. It is also important to emphasize that in asking this question, Kroeber clearly superotganic the importance of biological anthropology and human evolutionary history to cultural anthropology.

It is just easier to access and, frankly, cries out for an editor more. There may be typos or other errors in the manuscript.

How, then, could culture have originated if it is such a unique phenomena?