The science that is in charge of studying the reality of the
human being through a holistic approach (in which the whole determines the
behavior of the parts) is called anthropology. According to
originates from the Greek language and comes from anthropos ("man" or "human")
and logos ("knowledge").
This science analyzes man in the cultural and social context
of which he is a part. Thus he analyzes the origin of the human being, his
development as a social species and the changes in his behaviors as time passes.
It is said that Georges-Louis Leclerc, in 1749,
was the first scholar to apply for anthropology as an independent
discipline. Its development was based on two positions: the study of the diverse
physical characteristics of the human being and the descriptive comparison of
the different peoples.
However, many others are anthropologists who throughout history have left
their indelible mark on this discipline that now concerns us. This would be the
case, for example, of Herbert Spencer. He was a very respectable figure in the
scientific field who exposed his theories based on concepts such as natural
laws, the adaptation of the being to the environment or the transmission of
certain factors from generation to generation.
Likewise, the figure of Lewis Henry Morgan, who is considered one of the true
fathers of Modern Anthropology, cannot be overlooked either. In his case, he
stood out because he presented advances and theories regarding kinship
relationships that for him were fundamental to achieve that a group strengthened
ties and that the individuals that formed it felt a vital part of it.
To these two characters of great historical, anthropological and
philosophical significance, we should add, among many others, the name of Marvin
Harris. This, of North American origin, is known worldwide for being the key
piece of cultural materialism. A theory or current that is based fundamentally
on questions of a material nature to determine the differences or the
similarities of a sociocultural type that exist between different groups.
WHR Rivers, Edith Turner, Clifford Geertz, Sherry Ortner or Ulf Hannerz are
other of the many anthropologists who throughout history have played a
fundamental role in the study of the human being, his individual characteristics
and his social relations.
By the end of World War II, most of the world's most
powerful countries had already managed to develop professional-level
anthropology that allowed them to reinforce identity as a
Today, anthropology can be divided into four main sub-disciplines: social
anthropology (also known as cultural anthropology or ethnology),
which studies cultural characteristics, behaviors, and the structuring of social
ties), biological anthropology (or physical
anthropology), which analyzes the changes of the human body with the
course of history; the linguistic anthropology (or linguistic
anthropology), which specializes in studying languages man); and archeology,
dedicated to tracking and interpreting the ways of life of those already extinct