Unilineal Evolution Thanks to Wikipedia for much of this. James Mullooly What is Unilineal Evolution in Anthropology? • As used by 19th century cultural anthropologists, such as Lewis Henry Morgan a now discredited theory that human civilizations develop linearly in a "sequence of progress" from savagery, through barbarism, to finally civilization; see Linear progress (Lewis Henry Morgan, Ancient Society, 1877) What is Unilineal Evolution in Marxism? • As used in Marxist theory - the idea that, independent of biological evolution, changes in the mode of production produced conflicts with the old structures of society such that the conflicts could be resolved only by changes in the political, judicial, and moral values in the society; see Social determinism Socio-cultural Evolution In the unilineal evolution model at left, all cultures progress through set stages, while in the multilineal evolution model at right, distinctive culture histories are emphasized. Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) "survival of the fittest" Edward Burnett Tylor(1832-1917) “Father of British Cultual Anthropology” The prototypical Victorian armchair anthropologist. “band, tribe, chiefdom, state” Lewis H. Morgan (1818-1881) “savagery, barbarism and civilisation” Karl Marx (1818-1883) & Friedrich Engels (1820-1895) Classic Roots • The 14th century Islamic scholar Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406) concluded that societies are living organisms that experience cyclic birth, growth, maturity, decline, and ultimately death due to universal causes several centuries before the Western civilisation developed the science of sociology through Auguste Comte (17981857) the father of sociology. Ibn Khaldūn or Ibn Khaldoun, full name Arabic ابو زيد عبد الرحمن بن محمد بن خلدون الحضرمي:, Abū Zayd ‘Abdu r-Raḥman bin Muḥammad bin Khaldūn al-Ḥaḍramī (May 27, 1332/732AH – March 19, 1406/808AH), “Pre-Echoing” anthropologists Jared Diamond, the following quotation is likely the earliest criticism of “Civilized” life: It can be noted that those people who, whether they inhabit the desert or settled areas and cities, live a life of abundance and have all the good things to eat, die more quickly than others when a drought or famine comes upon them. – Ibn Khaldun Ibn Khaldun lived in north Africa 1332-1406, about a generation after William of Ockham. His Muqaddimah ('Introduction', namely to a work of history) originated as an attempt to work out how to decide whether historical sources are credible. Ibn Khaldun’s Al Muqaddimah • Ibn Khaldun described a process of the rise and fall of states in his book Al Muqaddimah - the Introduction to History. • His explanation of was that there was a constant renewal or replacement of the ruling group by nomads conquering the towns and settled lands. • This was followed by a period when the invaders lost the skills of the desert and acquired the vices and slackness of town life. – This observation fits very well the history of western Eurasia and north Africa until quite recent times. – Only in the 20th century have the nomads of the world become absorbed into the political systems, as air transport, space surveillance and electronics make it impossible for anyone to be unreachable by the administrator and tax-man. • The last nomadic conquest was that of Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud who created Saudi Arabia in 1921. • Thus the fall of the Roman empire in the west was, according to Ibn Khaldun's theory, the result of more vigorous Germanic tribes overcoming the soft living men of the cities. Classic Roots of “Sociological and cultural evolution" • Prior to the 18th century, Europeans predominantly believed that societies on Earth were in a state of decline. • European society held up the world of antiquity as a standard to aspire to, – Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome far outshined the Middle Ages in terms of technology. Classic Roots of “Sociological and cultural evolution" • At the same time, Christianity taught that people lived in a fundamentally inferior world. • BUT During The Age of Enlightenment, European self-confidence grew and the notion of progress became popular. The Bain of “Progress” • In the 19th century three great, classical theories of social and historical change were created: – the social evolutionism theory, – the social cycle theory and – the Marxist historical materialism theory. • Those theories had one common factor: – the history of humanity is pursuing a certain social progression. The Bain of “Progress” • Thus, each past event is not only chronologically, but causally tied to present and future events. • Both Spencer and Comte view the society as a kind of organism subject to the process of growth – – – – – from simplicity to complexity, from chaos to order, from generalisation to specialisation, from flexibility to organisation. Progressivism • They agreed that the process of societies growth can be divided into certain stages, – have their beginning and eventual end, and that this growth is in fact social progress - each newer, more evolved society is better. • Thus progressivism became one of the basic ideas underlying the theory of social evolutionism. Progress? • "Layer after layer of human perfection separates me from the central Africans who pursued Stanley with cries of 'meat, meat!' " (Psychologist and philosopher William James 1890-1891: 2438). Our Readings Herbert Spencer, The Social Organism (1860) This essay was first published in The Westminster Review for January 1860 and was reprinted in Spencer's Essays: Scientific, Political and Speculative (London and New York, 1892, in three volumes). Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) "survival of the fittest“ [NOT “natural Selection”-Darwin] Key part of Spencer’s analysis is revealed in the following: Let us set out by succinctly stating the points of similarity and the points of difference. Societies agree with individual organisms in four conspicuous peculiarities: 1. That commencing as small aggregations, they insensibly augment in mass: some of them eventually reaching ten thousand times what they originally were. 2. That while at first so simple in structure as to be considered structureless, they assume, in the course of their growth, a continually-increasing complexity of structure. People die, societies don’t, apparently 3. That though in their early, undeveloped states, there exists in them scarcely any mutual dependence of parts, their parts gradually acquire a mutual dependence; which becomes at last so great, that the activity and life of each part is made possible only by the activity and life of the rest. 4. That the life of a society is independent of, and far more prolonged than, the lives of any of its component units; who are severally born, grow, work, reproduce, and die, while the bodypolitic composed of them survives generation after generation, increasing in mass, in completeness of structure, and in functional activity. Spencer Passage • In the one, as in the other, the nutritive materials circulated are at first crude and simple, gradually become better elaborated and more heterogeneous, and have eventually added to them a new element facilitating the nutritive processes. The channels of communication pass through similar phases of development, which bring them to analogous forms. And the directions, rhythms, and rates of circulation, progress by like steps to like final conditions. Spencer Passage • This passage clearly illustrates that belief they carried that things were always getting better. • Ibn Kaldun conversely, presumed that social organism, like biological ones, died eventually. • The evolutionists, victims of their firm faith in “progress” could not imagine such a death • until WWI (1914-1918). Consider the following observation • -Spencer seeks to answer philosophical questions apart from supernatural causes, and in so doing attributes what one might consider supernatural qualities to the natural realm. Lewis Henry Morgan, Ethnical Periods (1877) The theory of human degeneration to explain the existence of savages and of barbarians is no longer tenable. -Lewis Henry Morgan, Ethnical Periods (1877) Lewis H. Morgan (18181881) “savagery, barbarism and civilisation” An American ethnologist, anthropologist and writer. However, his professional life was in the field of law. As an amateur scholar, he is best known for his work on cultural evolution and Native Americans. The first to do systematic work in kinship. The psychic unity of mankind • The postulate of "the psychic unity of mankind" states that all human beings, regardless of culture or race, share the same basic psychological and cognitive make-up; we are all of the same kind. • The postulate was originally formulated by Adolf Bastian, the "father of German anthropology", who was a classical German humanist and a cultural relativist. • Bastian passed it on to his similarly minded student, Franz Boas, who, as the "father of American anthropology", transmitted it on to all of his students. • Edward B. Tylor introduced it to 19th century British evolutionist anthropology, where it became a fixture, defended by all the major British evolutionists. • Today, the postulate is shared by all anthropologists. http://www.anthrobase.com/Dic/eng/def/psychic_unity.htm The Progress is Moral as well. • …the gradual evolution of their mental and moral powers through experience, and of their protracted struggle with opposing obstacles while winning their way to civilization. It will be drawn in part, from the great sequence of inventions and discoveries which stretches along the entire pathway of human progress; but chiefly from domestic institutions, which express the growth of certain ideas and passions. What is an ethnical period? • It will be my object to present some evidence of human progress along these several lines, and through successive ethnical periods, as it is revealed by inventions and discoveries, and by the growth of the ideas of government, of the family, and of property. Ethnical Periods • Periods • I. Lower Status of Savagery, Conditions From the Infancy of the Human Race to the commencement of the next Period. • II. Middle Status of Savagery, From the acquisition of a fish subsistence and a knowledge of the use of fire to etc. • III. Upper Status of Savagery, From the Invention of the Bow and Arrow • IV. Lower Status of Barbarism, From the Invention of the Art of Pottery, • V. Middle Status of Barbarism, From the Domestication of animals on the Eastern hemisphere, and in the Western from the cultivation of maize and plants by Irrigation, with the use of adobe-brick and stone, to etc. • VI. Upper Status of Barbarism, From the Invention of the process of smelting Iron Ore, w/ the use of iron tools, • VII. Status of Civilization, From the Invention of a Phonetic Alphabet, with the use of writing, to the present time. Feuerbach: Opposition of the Materialist and Idealist Outlook (1845-1846) Karl Marx (1818-1883) Friedrich Engels (1820-1895) Who is Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-1872)? • As a member of the "Young Hegelians", Feuerbach criticized what he called Hegel's reduction of Man's Essence to Self-consciousness, and went on to prove the connection of philosophical idealism with religion. In rejecting Hegel's philosophy and advocating materialism, criticizing religion and idealism, Feuerbach emphasized the individual, purely "biological" nature of man [i.e., no “spirit”]. • His critique of Hegel's idealism laid the basis for Marx and Engels' work. • Both Marx and Engels were strongly influenced by Feuerbach, though they thoroughly critiqued him for inconsistent materialism. Idealism and Materialism • Idealism is a class of positions in ontology and epistemology. Idealism as an epistemological position asserts that everything we experience is of a mental nature. – That is, we can only have direct, immediate knowledge of the contents of our mind. – We can never directly know or experience an external object itself. • As an ontological position Idealism asserts either that only minds and the objects of mind exist, or that everything is composed of mental realities (e.g., thoughts, feelings, perceptions, ideas, or will). • As a foundation for cosmology, or an approach to understanding the nature of existence, idealism is often contrasted with materialism, both belonging to the class of monist as opposed to dualist or pluralist ontologies. • (Note that this contrast between idealism and materialism is approximately as to whether the substance of the world is at base mental or physical — it has nothing to do with thinking that things should be idealized, or with coveting goods.) 1 6 5 x 2 0 0 p i x e l s 6 k j p g w w w . s w i f . u n i b a . i t G e o r g W i l h G e el om rF gr i W e id lr hi ec lh H m e F g re i e d r i c h H e g e Idealism and Materialism Hegel & Marx Communism as cool The Illusion of the Epoch • Civil Society and the Conception of History • The form of intercourse determined by the existing productive forces at all previous historical stages, and in its turn determining these, is civil society. The latter, as is clear from what we have said above, has as its premises and basis the simple family and the multiple, the so-called tribe, the more precise determinants of this society are enumerated in our remarks above. Already here we see how this civil society is the true source and theatre of all history, and how absurd is the conception of history held hitherto, which neglects the real relationships and confines itself to high-sounding dramas of princes and The Illusion of the Epoch • Civil society embraces the whole material intercourse of individuals within a definite stage of the development of productive forces. It embraces …the life of a given stage and, insofar, transcends the State and the nation, though, on the other hand again, it must assert itself in its foreign relations as nationality, and inwardly must organise itself as State. • The word “civil society” [bürgerliche Gesellschaft] emerged in the eighteenth century, when property relationships had already extricated themselves from the ancient and medieval communal society. • Civil society as such only develops with the bourgeoisie; the social organisation evolving directly out of production and commerce, The Illusions of German Ideology • Questions for discussion: 1. What explanation does Marx give for the character of German ideology, “the connection of German philosophy with German reality”? 2. Can you think of present-day examples of people who criticise their own “teacher”, but do so within the conceptual and practical framework they learnt from their teacher? 3. Can you give a plausible and convincing defence of the view of the “Old Hegelians”? 4. What is the argument between the “Old Hegelians” and the “Young Hegelians” and why is Marx so contemptuous of the Young Hegelians? History: Fundamental Conditions • Questions for discussion: 1. What are the three “moments” of history, three fundamental conditions which Marx outlines at the beginning of this section, and what is the fourth? 2. “Language is practical consciousness that exists also for other men, and for that reason alone it really exists for me personally as well.” Can you explain “for that reason alone”? 3. What does Marx call thr first true division of labour? 4. Marx says that if consciousness conflicts with the existing social relations, this can only be because the existing social relations have come into conflict with the forces of production. Explain. Marx and Engels close on a prophetic note • “Communism is not a state of affairs which is to be established, [rather, it is] an ideal to which reality [will] have to adjust itself.” • In their estimation, social evolution inevitably ended up as communism. Theoretical Problems of the Cultural Evolutionists • The theory was deeply ethnocentric; with Western civilization seen as best. • It assumed all cultures follow the same path or progression and goals. • It equated civilization with material culture (technology, cities, etc.) • It equated evolution with progress or fitness, – i.e., a deep misunderstanding of evolutionary theory. • It is greatly contradicted by evidence. – e.g., “savages” were far more peaceful than “civilized”. Negative Consequences • Because social evolution was posited as a scientific theory, it was often used to support unjust and often racist social practices: – – – – colonialism slavery economic inequality within industrialized Europe. Social Darwinism led to philosophies used by Nazis. They were Racist • "no major figure in the social sciences between 1860 and 1890 escaped the influence of evolutionary racism" (Harris 1968:130). The Final Rejection of Unilineal Evolution • The early 20th century inaugurated a period of • systematic critical examination, and • rejection of unilineal theories of cultural evolution. The “Rejector” of Unilineal Evolution • Franz Boas, – the leader of anthropology's rejection, • used sophisticated ethnography and more rigorous empirical methods to argue that Spencer, Tylor, and Morgan's theories were speculative and systematically misrepresented ethnographic data.