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The Early Approach to Anthropology – Essay

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During this pe­riod, anthropologium was used in a restricted sense, relating to man’s bodily structure. In the year 1501, the word was precisely used for anatomy and physiology.

The meaning of the word ‘anthropology’ was scarcely defined in the beginning of the 19th century, when we find it in the British Ency­clopaedia of 1822. It was defined as under:

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Anthropology is a discourse upon human nature and among divines that manner of expression by which the inspired writers attribute hu­man parts and passions to god.

The earliest definition of anthropology belonged to the last quar­ter of the 19th century. Topinard (1876), a renowned British anthropologist, defined it as below:

Anthropology is the branch of natural history which treats of man and the races of man.

Thus, these earlier definitions of anthropology dwell on the un­derstanding of: (i) the nature of man, and (ii) the physiology of man. Haddon had summarized the early meaning of anthropology by say­ing that it is the science of man which comprises two main divisions: the one which deals with the natural man, and the other which is con­cerned with man in relation to his fellows, or in other words, with social man.

According to Haddon again, physical anthropology, as we call it today, was the only form of anthropology in the European con­tinent. In other words, anthropology is composed of two words: anthropos, that is, man, and ology, that is, science.

Thus, anthropology is the science of man. But, man is not only biological, he is also social and cultural, and thus, when anthropology studies man, it studies him in all his multiple aspects.

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