A. L. KROEBER. University of California. Search for more papers by this author. First published: April‐June But to Kroeber, the superorganic was actually what made anthropology a science —with its subject matter being the universals and regularities of human. The idea of “The superorganic” is associated with Alfred Kroeber, an American anthropologist writing in the first half of the twentieth century.

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And yet it is little read today.

In future editions these may be corrected. The essay is extremely long, and larded with multiple examples used to make the same point.

Folks, today I am beginning something new: This is of course a highly ambiguous situation, in essence forcing people to live in imposed isolation. The arrangement makes them alive. The essay is clearly written and structured, but there is little explicit signposting.

The socio-cultural level, culture or society, therefore is carried by humans and transcends humans. Please feel free to share it widely, including dumping it in whatever archive works for you. A living entity transcends its inorganic parts.

There may be typos or other errors in the manuscript. Predictably, Kroeber argues that organic racial difference cannot affect the growth of civilization. Kroeber occupies several positions here, and the loose ends in this section of his argument would be taken up by future thinkers.


Since you know well the Lowie collection at Berkeley, are there any texts that might be available online? Please feel free to share widely! Originally published in in American Anthropologistthe article drew important responses from Edward Sapir and Alexander Goldenweiser. With regard to isolated peoples, each South American country has its own unique and varied history with regards to indigenous peoples and their rights, and these varied historical policies directly affect their approach to the specific case of isolated peoples.

Culture as the superorganic

Race, Language, Culture, Psychology, and Prehistory. All living things, plants and animals, are built up of inorganic elements, mainly hydrogen, oxygen and carbon, plus some trace elements. It is also important to emphasize that in asking this question, Kroeber clearly sees the importance of biological anthropology and human evolutionary history to cultural anthropology. The links are symbolic, not genetic as in biological systems. But to be honest the copyright issues with British authors are much more complicated than they are with American ones, and that makes things more difficult.


When it comes to speaking for a contemporary audience, then, Kroeber is his own worst enemy. But HAU may beat me to it.


Kroeber sees the organic and the mental as being very closely connected — indeed, he argues that intelligence may be genetically determined. This position anticipates current work on culture as an emergent phenomena.

What do you think? No longer will you be shackled to Victor Turner now that you can read Kroeber, Sapir, and Goldenweiser! What articles come to mind?

Why not prefer a biological reduction of human action? Rather, culture operates on its own level of determination. For recently contacted peoples, FUNAI tries to do as much as possible to convince them to continue living as they did prior to contact.

It is just easier to access and, frankly, cries out for an editor more. They behave, however, in concert with each other, as a system external to individuals —— society. If a peoples e.