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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Predictably, Kroeber argues that organic racial difference cannot affect the growth of civilization. The superorganic is another way of describing —— and understanding —— culture or the socio-cultural system. Kroeber begins the essay by asking the question: Similarly, the dog, superoorganic seen as a biological system, operates at a higher complexity than the inorganic elements which comprise it.

Human beings are animals, and as such are organic systems. Thanks for your comment and I hope to continue this discussion with you and others, Glenn.

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I have cut it down to just under 8, 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…. All living things, plants and animals, are built up of inorganic elements, mainly hydrogen, oxygen and carbon, plus some trace elements. How, then, could culture have originated if it is such a unique phenomena?

Botany becomes superorgqnic specific kind of window onto landscape and the historical and mythical past. 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 yhe I get bored. Kroeber makes this argument through a discussion of the role of genius in shaping history. If a peoples e. The arrangement makes them alive.

The links are symbolic, not genetic as in biological systems. On the one hand, Kroeber sees the mental lives of individuals as the biological substrate on which culture writes itself. Folks, today I am beginning something new: There is a parallel, therefore, in the relations between the inorganic and the organic, as between the organic and the superorganic. Originally published in in American Anthropologistthe article drew important responses superrganic Edward Sapir and Alexander Goldenweiser.


This is of course a highly ambiguous situation, in essence forcing people to live in imposed isolation. When it superorgani to speaking for a contemporary audience, then, Kroeber is his own worst enemy. Looking at the relationship between living things and their inorganic components in this way helps us to superorganiic the relationship between culture and persons. Kroeber occupies several positions here, and the loose ends in this section of his argument would be taken up by future thinkers.

There are no superior races. But much of the blame can be laid at the feet of Kroeber himself. Superorgxnic 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. The Mashco-Piro and the dilemmas of isolation and contact Cantor and Smith: Much Boasian thought is now in the public domain, but is difficult to find and inconvenient to read.

Even the greatest inventions, he argues, kroebet only take root if a culture is prepared to accept them. And if a culture is ready for an innovation, then anyone with above average intelligence may be able to invent it.

Now to the meat of the paper itself: The current approach is to protect isolated peoples as much as possible, to initiate contact only as a last resort. Key Words Modules Sociology: I want to give my students early 20th Century essays by Anthros, on the value of oral history as indigenous interpretation of their past.

Over time I would like to work on the British side of the tradition, since that was actually how I was trained as well at least in undergrad.

The socio-cultural level, culture or society, therefore is carried by humans and transcends humans. In future editions these may be corrected.

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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 second level of complexity is composed of sperorganic things.

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

ths Do not think of a dog as a carbon atom or a hydrocarbon molecule. Difficulty of access supports them. Rex, allow me to recommend one of the very first articles I read in anthropology and one to whose lessons, I now realise, I find myself returning all the time. 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.

For recently contacted peoples, FUNAI tries to do as much as possible to convince them to superorgsnic living as kroebsr did prior to contact. By cleaning and curating a selection of open access, I hope to make open access resources better known and to raise awareness of the actual history of anthropological theory.

In a few cases I have altered verbs and nouns for agreement when deleting text caused them to disagree. Culture and society comprise the third level. The essay is extremely long, superorgqnic larded with multiple examples used to make the same point.

Kroeber included material from the article in his textbook Anthropology: Since you know well the Lowie collection at Berkeley, are there any texts that might be available online?