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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Finally, Kroeber argues that the legitimacy of anthropology or history, these terms are used interchangeably in a way that modern readers may kroebber strange is tied to the existence of culture. Similarly, the dog, if seen as a biological system, operates at a higher complexity than the inorganic elements which comprise it.

Those are carried by individuals. On the contrary DJ — this was designed to introduce you to the anthropology you always wanted to do but never knew existed!

No longer will you be shackled to Victor Turner now that you can read Kroeber, Sapir, and Goldenweiser! Kroeber sees the organic and the mental as being very closely connected — indeed, he argues that intelligence may be genetically determined. And frankly, once must already know what is in it in order to know it is worth finding in the first place.

I will keep going until I complete a free anthology suitable for classroom use, or until I get bored. If we start with the inorganic, it is the physical universe, all the atoms of elements without life. It is also important to emphasize that in asking this question, Kroeber clearly sees the importance of biological anthropology and human evolutionary history to cultural anthropology.

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Botany becomes a specific kind of window onto landscape and the historical and mythical past. There is today a tremendous amount of material which is open access. Dear Robin, Thanks for writing.

Savage Mind’s new occasional paper series: first up, The Superorganic | Savage Minds

But in doing so, he argues, we miss the cultural dimension of conduct that makes human lives so unique. This is of course a highly ambiguous situation, in essence forcing people to live in imposed isolation. Do not anthropomorphise culture. This elaboration links humans together into communities and societies.

Do not think of a dog as a carbon atom or a hydrocarbon molecule. And if a culture is ready for an innovation, then anyone with above average intelligence may be able to invent it. There are no superior races. There are many reasons: In a few cases I have altered verbs and nouns for agreement when deleting text caused them to disagree. On the one hand, Kroeber sees the mental lives of individuals as the biological substrate on which culture writes itself.

This position anticipates current work on culture as an emergent phenomena. Please feel free to share it widely, including dumping it in whatever archive works for you. Predictably, Kroeber argues that organic racial difference cannot affect the growth of civilization.

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…. What, then, is his argument? Or does anthropology have a unique method?


Race, Language, Culture, Psychology, and Prehistory. It may have a life of its own, but its life more resembles an amoeba than a human. The essay is clearly written and structured, but there is little explicit signposting.


Why not prefer a biological reduction of human action? But much of the blame can be laid at the feet of Kroeber himself. If you copy text from this site, please acknowledge the author s and link it back to cec. Difficulty of access supports them. Kroeber begins the essay by asking the question: Similarly, do not think of a community, an institution, a society as a human being. When indigenous groups make clear efforts to avoid contact, it seems perfectly justifiable, indeed necessary, for governments and indigenous rights organizations to do all they can to respect this choice.

What articles come to mind? And yet it is little read today. Human beings are animals, and as such are organic systems. How, then, could culture have originated if it is such a unique phenomena? I have cut it down to just under 8, It is just easier to access and, frankly, cries out for an editor more.

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

Now to superoeganic meat of the paper itself: They behave, however, in concert with each other, as a system external to individuals —— society. The links are symbolic, not genetic as in biological systems.

In it, I will present a series of open access, curated texts from the history of anthropological theory. I want to give my students early 20th Century essays by Anthros, on the value of oral history as indigenous interpretation of their past.