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The Last Five Essay

1438 words - 6 pages

1. There are four fields in anthropology: cultural, physical, linguistics, and archaeological. Cultural anthropology is the study of human society and culture, the subfield that describes, analyzes, and explains social and cultural similarities and differences. Cultural anthropology attempts to look at humans via their culture. Cultural anthropologists engage in two kinds of activity: ethnography, which is based on field work, and ethnology, based on cross-cultural comparison. Archaeological anthropology reconstructs, describes, and interprets human behavior and cultural patterns through material remains. At sites where people live or have lived, archaeologists find artifacts such ...view middle of the document...

Culture itself is not biological, but it rests on certain features of human biology. Culture is learned. Our own cultural learning depends on the uniquely developed human capacity to use symbols, signs that have no necessary or natural connection to the things they signify or for which they stand. On the basis of cultural learning, people create, remember and deal with ideas. They grasp and apply specific systems of symbolic meaning. Anthropologists agree that cultural learning is uniquely elaborated among humans and that all humans have culture. Culture is an attribute not of individuals per se but of individuals as members of groups. Shared beliefs, values, memories, and expectations link people who grow up in the same culture. Culture and nature have a deep connection. Our culture – and cultural changes- affect the ways in which we perceive nature, human nature, and “the natural.” I have heard the word “culture” misused in inappropriate and questionable ways. Many people I know believe culture is passed down, generation to generation. This is false, as we learn our culture by observing, listening, talking, and interacting with many other people. Others believe that culture is just a collection of beliefs and customs. This is also false, as culture is an integrated, patterned system. Before the start of this class, my definition of culture was traditions and customs passed on through learning. While this definition is somewhat acceptable, I now know a more complete definition.
3. Evolution is the theory that species arose from other species through a long and gradual process of transformation or descent through modification. Charles Darwin became the best known evolutionist. On his voyage to South America, Darwin read Charles Lyell’s book titles Principles of Geology. This exposed him to uniformitarianism. Uniformitarianism states that the present is the key to the past. Explanations for past events should be sought in the long-term action of ordinary forces that still operate today. It was a necessary building block for evolutionary theory. Natural selection was another important building block. Natural selection is the process by which the forms most fit to survive and reproduce in a given environment do so in greater numbers than others in the same population. More than survival of the fittest, natural selection is differential reproductive success. It operates when there is competition for strategic resources such as food and space between members of the population. For natural selection to work on a particular population there must be variety within that population, as there always is. Genetics also plays a big part in evolution theory. Darwin recognized that for natural selection to operate there must be variety in the population undergoing selection. Genetics helps us understand the causes of biological variation. The father of genetics, Gregor Mendel, conducted a series of experiments that were to...

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