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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How, then, could culture have originated if it is such a unique phenomena? Human beings are animals, and as such are organic systems.

On the one hand, Kroeber sees the mental lives of individuals as the biological substrate on which culture writes itself. But if the organic causes the mental, the mental does not, then, cause the cultural.

In future editions these may be corrected. 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. Please feel free to share it widely, including dumping it in whatever archive works for you. Similarly, the dog, if seen as a biological system, operates at a higher complexity than the inorganic elements which comprise it. They behave, however, in concert with each other, as a system external to individuals —— society.

If you separate the dog or tree into its separate elements, it dies. Superorgwnic begins the essay by asking the question: What articles come to mind? This krkeber anticipates current work on culture as an emergent phenomena.

As you can imagine, a better part of the bibliography comes from Anthro. What do you think? 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.


The socio-cultural level, culture or society, therefore is carried by humans and transcends humans. Kroeber sees the organic and the mental as being very closely connected — indeed, he argues that intelligence may be genetically determined.

But much of the blame can be laid at the feet of Kroeber himself. But HAU may beat me to it.

With su;erorganic to isolated peoples, superorrganic 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.

It is just easier to access and, frankly, cries out for an editor more. Those are carried by individuals. Kroeber makes this argument through a discussion of the role of genius in shaping history.

Savage Minds

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. No longer will you be shackled to Victor Turner now that you can read Kroeber, Sapir, and Goldenweiser! This elaboration links humans together into communities and societies. If a peoples e. Even the greatest inventions, he argues, will only take root if a culture is prepared to accept them.

And yet it is little read today. Please feel free to share widely! Humans have thoughts and behaviour. Do not anthropomorphise culture. A living entity transcends its inorganic parts. Much Boasian thought is now in the supdrorganic domain, but is difficult to find and inconvenient tye read. Botany becomes a specific kind of window onto landscape and the historical and mythical past. If we start with the inorganic, it is the physical universe, all the atoms of elements without life.

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

Knowing the dynamics of how carbon atoms operate, or that combining hydrogen and oxygen can result in a rapid combustion if not an explosion, does not explain how the tree works, with its leaves converting sunlight into energy to change water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and carbon, channels to transfer sap from leaves to root, and so on. Over time I would like to work on the British kroebet of the tradition, since that superorganid actually how I was trained as well at least in undergrad.


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. I want to give my students early 20th Century essays by Anthros, on the value of oral history as indigenous interpretation of their past. 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….

Do not think of a dog as a carbon atom or a hydrocarbon molecule. Culture and society comprise the third level.

For recently contacted peoples, FUNAI tries to do as much as possible to convince them to continue living as they did prior to contact. If you analyse all those parts, in themselves, or even as a collection, suerorganic are not living. What, then, is his argument? And frankly, once must already know what is in it in order to know it is worth finding in the first place.