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Early Anthropology in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries

By Margaret T. Hodgen

Publication Year: 2011

Although social sciences such as anthropology are often thought to have been organized as academic specialties in the nineteenth century, the ideas upon which these disciplines were founded actually developed centuries earlier. In fact, the foundational concepts can be traced at least as far back as the sixteenth century, when contact with unfamiliar peoples in the New World led Europeans to create ways of describing and understanding social similarities and differences among humans.

Early Anthropology in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries examines the history of some of the ideas adopted to help understand the origin of culture, the diversity of traits, the significance of similarities, the sequence of high civilizations, the course of cultural change, and the theory of social evolution. It is a book that not only illuminates the thinking of a bygone age but also sheds light on the sources of attitudes still prevalent today.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press

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pp. vii-x

IT HAS BECOME a convention in dealing with the historical careers of the social studies to fix their birth dates somewhere in the nineteenth century, when the academic departmentalization of the study of man had its inception; and then, when unfavorable comment is heard, to defend them singly or


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pp. xi

The Medieval Prologue

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1. The Classical Heritage

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pp. 17-48

... Map or Carde of the Sea," medieval conceptions of savagery began slowly to lose their hold on the European mentality. For it was not so much that a Genoese sailor became the discoverer of new lands across the Ocean Sea, or that a little band of European seamen looked for the first time on the Red Men ...

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2. The Ethnology of the Medieval Encyclopedists

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pp. 49-77

... is that of placing himself in sympathetic rapport with the man of the Middle Ages, the credulous reader of Mela and Solinus; of coming to an understanding of why medieval thought, though grounded in the Hebrew Scriptures, contained so large an ingredient of the pagan, the fantastic, the monstrous, and ...

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3. Ethnology, Trade, and Missionary Endeavor

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pp. 78-108

... confused, geographically ignorant, and wedded ethnologically to immemorial and fabulous tradition, another body of evidence suggests a somewhat different conclusion. For obviously, if those old mixers of the human family-trade and religion-be given their due, and if to these be added the ...

The Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries

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4. The Fardle of Façions: or, the Cabinet of Curios

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pp. 111-161

... the Old World, he brought with him seven kidnapped Indians of the so-called Taino culture of the Arawack linguistic group. The Admiral and his charges were received with great interest by King John. His caravel "became the Mecca for the idle and curious who flocked to see the Indians and the ...

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5. Collections of Customs: Modes of Classification and Description

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pp. 162-206

... most of the collectors themselves were unaware of their importance. Few, relatively speaking, attempted by classification or other scientific procedures to ferret out the meaning of their treasures. The addition of new items as quickly as possible, the expansion of their stores of "curios," was about all they asked. ...

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6. The Ark of Noah and the Problem of Cultural Diversity

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pp. 207-253

Middle Ages and that of the Renaissance was the value attached to the trait of curiosity. During the earlier and longer period, this spring of scientific inquiry was profoundly distrusted as meddlesome and impertinent. It was spoken of as turpis curiositas. To encourage the mind to play wantonly with ...

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7. Diffusion, Degeneration, and Environmentalism

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pp. 255254-294

... of ideas and beliefs. It was regarded by most men as the best that reason and faith could propose. To others, however, it was neither as simple nor as satisfying as it seemed. The first eleven chapters of Genesis, with their artless bias in favor of one people, with their historical or genealogical ideas, with ...

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8. Similarities and Their Documentary Properties

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pp. 295-353

... during the Renaissance, so also were similarities. For there are two types of mind among scholars. There are those who in their efforts to understand the world submit to the methodological principle of specification or particularization. When drawn into making comparisons, they resist assertions of ...

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9. The Problem of Savagery

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pp. 354-385

... cultural correspondences? The deists, the theists, the atheists, and the infidels, so called by their orthodox brethren, were tireless in their efforts to undermine confidence in many of these too easy-going and uncritical likenesses, but at the same time they proposed some of their own. Why the persistent ...

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10. The Place of the Savage in the Chain of Being

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pp. 386-430

... the moralists, nor even the degenerationists, were allowed to have the last word in solving the problem of savagery. Their explanations failed to explain. The relativists were too coolly neutral to meet adequately the dramatic challenge of the facts; the moralists and degenerationists were too orthodox to see ...

The Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

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11. From Hierarchy to History

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pp. 433-477

... theory he was ordained to stay. The medieval mind made no provision for the mutability of animal species, or, among human beings for the transmutation of cultures from incivility to civility. Nor did most minds in the Renaissance. Basically Christian, they adhered to a serial cosmos in which the Good ...

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12. Aftermath

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pp. 478-516

... as well as on other fields of thought. Modem cultural investigation has taken up its abode in a mansion of organizing ideas already designed, built, and richly furnished with traditional assumptions more closely related to the early levels of Western theology and philosophy than to the data of human ...


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pp. 517-526

E-ISBN-13: 9780812206715
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812210149

Page Count: 528
Publication Year: 2011