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Meaning of Anthropology: Etymological and Scientific meaning

Meaning of Anthropology

The basic definition of Anthropology- The term Anthropology was coined by Aristotle (385-322 BC). Anthropology is defined as the science of humans in time and space. In the time it deals with the evolution of humans, while space refers to variation at a particular moment of time. It studies the biological and socio-cultural aspects of humans.

Also read: What is Anthropology? Relation of Anthropology with Sociology and Psychology

There are 2 types of meaning of Anthropology:

  1. Etymological meaning
  2. Scientific meaning

Etymological meaning of Anthropology:

  1. The term Anthropology was coined by Aristotle (385-322 BC) – referred to as the father of Anthropology.
  2. Etymologically, the word ‘Anthropology’ is derived from two Greek words ‘Anthropos’ and ‘logos’. ‘Anthropos’ means ‘human’ and ‘logos’ means ‘study’ or ‘science’. Thus, anthropology can be understood as the study or science of human beings.
  3. This meaning continued up to 1962. Between 1962 and 1965, the women’s liberation movement in the USA was at its peak. At that time the leaders of the movement criticized that anthropologists study “man only” but not “women”.
  4. To overcome this criticism, anthropologists provided a revised etymological meaning.
  5. Thus they defined Anthropology as, “The science of Humankind”.
  6. Since that time, the etymological meaning became freed from gender bias.

Scientific meaning of Anthropology:

  1. In its scientific sense, Anthropology defined as the study of humans in time and space. The definition has two component:
    • Time – in time, anthropology deals with the evolution of man
    • Space – ‘in space’ refers to variation at a particular moment of time
  2. Anthropology emphasizes two aspects of humans, namely, biological and socio-cultural. Therefore, Anthropology could be regarded as “the study of biological as well as socio-cultural evolution and variation.

Other science are part science. But, Anthropology is a whole science. It studies every aspects of humans in isolation and all its aspects in their inter-relation so as to have a comprehensive holistic understanding of humans behaviour.  This is scientific meaning

Also read: Anthropology: Scope, Aim, Branches and Research Method in Anthropology

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