How does the discipline of anthropology speak to us?
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Anthropology "speaks" to us because, as one of the eNotes documents attached below notes, "it is the study of humanity." Or, as the American Anthropological Association defines it, it is "the study of humans, past and present...anthropology draws and builds upon knowledge from the social and biological sciences as well as the humanities and physical sciences. A central concern of anthropologists is the application of knowledge to the solution of human problems." [www.aaanet.org/about/whatisanthropology.cfm]
The world is composed of hundreds of ethnicities, languages and cultures. Understanding how humans of myriad ethnicities, cultures and languages interact and how they have evolved over the centuries is crucial to the advancement of the species. If, as George Santayana postulated, those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it, then it follows logically that those who ignore the origins and development of humanity are destined to repeat the mistakes of those who came before us. Insomuch as the study of anthropology includes both archealogical and sociocultural components, then the higher the level of knowledge of what caused earlier civilizations to perish the greater the prospects that contemporary man can avoid the same traps. Anthropology, then, is the key to understanding where we came from, and where we may be headed. In that, it speaks to all mankind.
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