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Social Sci LibreTexts

1: Introduction to Physical Anthropology

  • Page ID
    5005
  • This chapter will introduce you to the field of anthropology, define basic terms and concepts and explain why it is important, and how it can change your perspective of the world around you.

    • 1.1: Science
      The word science comes from the Latin for “knowledge”, but in modern English it means a very specific kind of knowledge, and implies a method of obtaining knowledge. Anthropology is mostly based on science. Anthropology is holistic. The four main subfields of anthropology are cultural anthropology, physical (biological) anthropology, archaeology, and linguistics. Before talking about science, we should back up even farther, and talk about epistemology, the study of how we know things.
    • 1.2: Anthropology as a Science
      Anthropology differs from other sciences because it emphasizes holism and genealogy. The emphasis on genealogy for cultural anthropology implies a focus on the family (domestic structure). The emphasis on genealogy for physical anthropology extends the metaphor of the family tree from an individual and their family, to a family tree writ-large that uses phylogentic taxonomy to contextualize the human species. Anthropology's emphasis on holism implies a balance between different approaches and m

    Thumbnail: © B. Kite 1992