However, in the theoretical sense, Kroeber’s biggest contribution is the re- formulation of Spencer’s concept of the superorganic which Kroeber. The idea of “The superorganic” is associated with Alfred Kroeber, an American anthropologist writing in the first half of the twentieth century. A. L. KROEBER. University of California. Search for more papers by this author. First published: April‐June

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It may have a life of its own, but its life more resembles an amoeba than a human. Or does anthropology have a unique method? To this task Kroeber devoted part of his energies, particularly in his earlier years. In the mean-time he tolerated and in some cases encouraged those of his students who became interested in psychological problems, and several early doctoral candidates at Berkeley were virtually forced into psychology minors.

Kroeber makes this argument through a discussion of the role of genius in shaping history. Then, by superirganico these materials with materials from other coastal valleys, he developed a complex time sequence.


Yet he had no such qualms about isolating culture traits in his comparative studies or identifying complexes for cross-cultural studies.

American Anthropologist New Series 4: This decision was influenced in part by the Uhle collections in the University Museum. Decorative Art and Symbolism. In future editions these may be corrected. All kroeer, almost self-evidently, are in large part composed of elements borrowed from other cultures however much they may be reworked, adapted, and fitted into distinctive patterns.

Botany becomes a specific kind of window onto landscape and the historical and mythical past. To this development Kroeber contributed greatly. These themes dominated his more important courses as well as several of his major monographs.

Uhle had suggested chronological depth for his materials. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Kroeber, Alfred L. |

When he first visited California inthe California Indians were little known and of little interest to anthropologists.

After a period at private preparatory schools Kroeber entered Columbia at the age of In part this was because he perceived no significant historical depth in the archeological record.


In his major contribution dealing with culture areas, Cultural and Natural Areas of Native Superorgainco AmericaKroeber outlined 6 grand areas, 56 areas, and 43 subareas. Extreme functional and structural approaches have insisted on the interrelatedness of all aspects of culture. This controversy has been reviewed recently by David Kaplanwho has argued forcefully in favor of the Superorganic by moving the discussion from the ontological to the methodological arena.

Learn more about citation styles Citation styles Encyclopedia. But HAU may beat me to it. Both Darwin and Wallace imagined evolution, and neither would have been accepted if society was not ready for the idea. But if the organic causes the mental, the mental does not, then, cause the cultural. During the period in which anthropology first gained extensive recognition as a professional discipline and the number of anthropologists began to grow rapidly, this work was the only textbook.

Many of his recurring scholarly interests and viewpoints are related to his own experience and were established at an early age. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, Vol.

And where documentary or archeological evidence was lacking or inadequate, Kroeber relied heavily on historical inference or reconstruction based primarily on distributional data. Inin the Quarterly Review of Biology, superorgwnico anticipated a currently active research field in a paper on subhuman cultural beginnings see b and in kroebet called attention to the importance of blood-group classifications see a.

They are rarely presented as theory in the grand style, but rather as interesting hypotheses. There is today a tremendous amount of material which is open access.

Savage Minds

Sometimes the terms are used to describe the spatial distribution of concrete clusterings; more importantly, in explaining the peaks or climaxes in the history of culture areas and the differential frequency of geniuses at different times and places.

The data published in these three papers gave a major impetus to the recognition of time perspective in American prehistory. Kroeber explained cultural processes diachronically: A very large part of the book deals with historical problems and the growth of civilizations. Kroeber applied a method of sequential dating to these goods, arranging them according to stylistic similarities.

In part, but only in part, this was a function of the youth of the field.

He did not, however, teach ethnographic methodology to his students as, indeed, he had never taught archeological methodology. Most of the book consists of reprints of earlier papers or selections therefrom, arranged and annotated by Supdrorganico himself to indicate the development of his major theoretical superirganico.


Whatever he did outside the field of ethnology was either the product of an incidental if acute perception of problems or was ultimately related to his concern with culture.

The Nature of Culture. The Structure of California Indian Culture. The essay is extremely long, and larded with multiple examples used to make the same point. 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. His major work on this subject, Configurations of Culture Growthattempts to identify, for nations and areas of the Old World, culminations or peaks in various fields of aesthetic and intellectual endeavor.

He could, on occasion, use thoroughly functional concepts in his descriptive analyses see for example his section on the Yurok in the Handbook of the Indians of Californiabut his habit of mind and his interest led him back continually to the natural-history approach of classical biology and a humanistic emphasis upon patterns and styles.

Kroeber, The Nature of Culture. Characteristically, in the last work he wrote on California Indian languages published posthumously inentitled Yokuts Dialect Survey, he incorporated research that began in He observed that if the Indian service truly wanted scientific research it should contract with the universities to have it done independently.

Field workers found the trait-list approach confining, and at least part of the ethnographic data they collected turned out to be unsuitable for tabular listing. Hymes, Dell Alfred Louis Kroeber. Why not prefer a biological reduction of human action?

But in doing so, he argues, we miss the cultural dimension of conduct that makes human lives so unique.