anthropology

today, i shall put the cadavers and dead babies to one side, and look instead at an archaic textbook.

you see, i was rummaging through books in a charity shop a few days ago and i came across this little gem…

originally published in 1881, ‘anthropology: an introduction to the study of man and civilization‘ was written by edward b tylor as an overview of the tremendously large subject of ‘the Science of Man‘.

i absolutely adore old small format books, and this one being a 1937 print was just far too lovely and interesting to pass up. it only cost 50pence!

anyway.

i have felt that the brainchild concept could be used as a metaphor for a number of ideas. one of which being to consider the differences between instinct and  learned behaviour. the suggestion of a baby in mind [instinct], which controls the larger adult body [which is capable of learning by experience].  this idea resonated as i was reading the second chapter, wherein tylor discusses the differences between man and lower animals.

however, tylor explains that learning is not enough to define our differences from other animals. he first points us to darwin’s work ‘expression of the emotions’, and then to the philosopher john locke’s suggestion that ideas and abstract thought separate us from ‘the brutes‘. tylor asserts:

“man alone has self-consciousness, that is, he not only feels and thinks, but is aware of himself as feeling and thinking.”

there are many ideas concerning self, identity and personality that are rooted in the physical brain, and i hoped to use the brainchild to explore some of these a little further – so when i come across an idea explained so succinctly i cannot help but share it!

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