Edward Burnett Tylor
1 Early life and education 2 Professional career 3 Awards and achievements 4 Thought
4.1 Classification and criticisms 4.2 Basic concepts
4.2.1 Culture 4.2.2 Universals
4.3 Tylor's evolutionism
4.3.1 Survivals 4.3.2 Evolution of religion
5 Works 6 See also 7 Notes 8 References 9 Further reading 10 External links
Early life and education
He was born in 1832, in Camberwell, London, and was the son of Joseph
Tylor and Harriet Skipper, part of a family of wealthy
Portrait of the aged Tylor not long before his death; from Folk-Lore, 1917.
Tylor's first publication was a result of his 1856 trip to
1871 Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. 1875 Honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Laws from the University of Oxford. 1912 Knighted for his contributions.
Thought Classification and criticisms
Herbert Spencer, evolutionist par excellence.
The word evolution is forever associated in the popular mind with Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, which professes, among other things, that man as a species developed diachronically from some ancestor among the Primates who was also ancestor to the Great Apes, as they are popularly termed, and yet "evolution" was not a neologism of Darwin’s. He took it from the cultural milieu, where it meant etymologically “unfolding” of something heterogeneous and complex from something simpler and more homogeneous. Herbert Spencer, a contemporary of Darwin, applied the term to the universe, including philosophy and what Tylor would later call culture. This view of the universe was generally termed evolutionism, while its exponents were evolutionists. In 1871 Tylor published Primitive Culture, becoming the originator of cultural anthropology. His methods were comparative and historical ethnography. He believed that a “uniformity” was manifest in culture, which was the result of “uniform action of uniform causes.” He regarded his instances of parallel ethnographic concepts and practices as indicative of “laws of human thought and action.” He was an evolutionist. The task of cultural anthropology therefore is to discover “stages of development or evolution.” Evolutionism was distinguished from another creed, diffusionism, postulating the spread of items of culture from regions of innovation. A given apparent parallelism thus had at least two explanations: the instances descend from an evolutionary ancestor, or they are alike because one diffused into the culture from elsewhere. These two views are exactly parallel to the tree model and wave model of historical linguistics, which are instances of evolutionism and diffusionism, language features being instances of culture. Two other classifications were proposed in 1993 by Upadhyay and Pandey, Classical Evolutionary School and Neo Evolutionary School, the Classical to be divided into British, American, and German. The Classical British Evolutionary School, primarily at Oxford University, divided society into two evolutionary stages, savagery and civilization, based on the archaeology of John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury. Upadhyay and Pandey list its adherents as Robert Ranulph Marett, Henry James Sumner Maine, John Ferguson McLennan, and James George Frazer, as well as Tylor. Marett was the last man standing, dying in 1943. By the time of his death, Lubbock’s archaeology had been updated. The American School, beginning with Lewis Henry Morgan, was likewise superseded, both being replaced by the Neoevolutionist School, beginning with V. Gordon Childe. It brought the archaeology up-to-date and tended to omit the intervening society names, such as savagery; for example, Neolithic is both a tool tradition and a form of society. There are some other classifications. Theorists of each classification each have their own criticisms of the Classical/Neo Evolutionary lines, which despite them remains the dominant view. Some criticisms are in brief as follows. There is really no universality; that is, the apparent parallels are accidental, on which the theorist has imposed a model that does not really fit. There is no uniform causality, but different causes might produce similar results. All cultural groups do not have the same stages of development. The theorists are arm-chair anthropologists; their data is insufficient to form realistic abstractions. They overlooked cultural diffusion. They overlooked cultural innovation. None of the critics claim definitive proof that their criticisms are less subjective or interpretive than the models they criticise. Basic concepts Culture Tylor's notion is best described in his most famous work, the two-volume Primitive Culture. The first volume, The Origins of Culture, deals with ethnography including social evolution, linguistics, and myth. The second volume, Religion in Primitive Culture, deals mainly with his interpretation of animism. On the first page of Primitive Culture, Tylor provides a definition which is one of his most widely recognised contributions to anthropology and the study of religion:
Culture or Civilization, taken in its wide ethnographic sense, is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society. — Tylor
Also, the first chapter of the work gives an outline of a new discipline, science of culture, later known as culturology. Universals Unlike many of his predecessors and contemporaries, Tylor asserts that the human mind and its capabilities are the same globally, despite a particular society’s stage in social evolution. This means that a hunter-gatherer society would possess the same amount of intelligence as an advanced industrial society. The difference, Tylor asserts, is education, which he considers the cumulative knowledge and methodology that takes thousands of years to acquire. Tylor often likens primitive cultures to “children”, and sees culture and the mind of humans as progressive. His work was a refutation of the theory of social degeneration, which was popular at the time. At the end of Primitive Culture, Tylor writes, "The science of culture is essentially a reformers' science." Tylor's evolutionism In 1881 Tylor published a work he called Anthropology, one of the first under that name. In the first chapter he uttered what would become a sort of constitutional statement for the new field, which he could not know and did not intend at the time:
"History, so far as it reaches back, shows arts, sciences, and political institutions beginning in ruder states, and becoming in the course of ages, more intelligent, more systematic, more perfectly arranged or organized, to answer their purposes." — Tylor 1881, p. 15
The view was a restatement of ideas first innovated in the early 1860s. The theorist perhaps most influential on Tylor was John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury, innovator of the terminology, “Paleolithic” and “Neolithic.” A prominent banker and British liberal Parliamentarian, he was imbued with a passion for archaeology. The initial concepts of prehistory were his. Lubbock’s works featured prominently in Tylor’s lectures and in the Pitt Rivers Museum subsequently. Survivals A term ascribed to Tylor was his theory of "survivals". His definition of survivals is
processes, customs, and opinions, and so forth, which have been carried on by force of habit into a new state of society different from that in which they had their original home, and they thus remain as proofs and examples of an older condition of culture out of which a newer has been evolved. — Tylor
"Survivals" can include outdated practices, such as the European
practice of bloodletting, which lasted long after the medical theories
on which it was based had faded from use and been replaced by more
modern techniques. Critics argued that he identified the term but
provided an insufficient reason as to why survivals continue.
Tylor’s meme-like concept of survivals explains the characteristics
of a culture that are linked to earlier stages of human culture.
Studying survivals assists ethnographers in reconstructing earlier
cultural characteristics and possibly reconstructing the evolution of
Evolution of religion
Tylor argued that people had used religion to explain things that
occurred in the world. He saw that it was important for religions
to have the ability to explain why and for what reason things occurred
in the world. For example, God (or the divine) gave us sun to keep
us warm and give us light. Tylor argued that animism is the true
natural religion that is the essence of religion; it answers the
questions of which religion came first and which religion is
essentially the most basic and foundation of all religions. For
him, animism was the best answer to these questions, so it must be the
true foundation of all religions.
1861 Anahuac: or,
List of important publications in anthropology Urmonotheismus Wilhelm Schmidt Andrew Lang
^ "Tylor, Edward Burnett". Who's Who. Vol. 59. 1907.
^ Long, Heather. "Social Evolutionism". University of Alabama
Department of Anthropology. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
^ Paul Bohannan, Social
Goldenweiser, Alexander A. (1922). "Four Phases Of Anthropological
Thought: An Outline". Papers and Proceedings: Sixteenth Annual
Meeting, American Sociological Society, Held At Pittsburgh, Pa.,
December 27–30, 1921. XVI: 50–69.
Tylor, Edwrd Burnett (1881).
Joan Leopold, Culture in Comparative and Evolutionary Perspective: E. B. Tylor and the Making of Primitive Culture (Berlin: Dietrich Reimer Verlag, 1980). Efram Sera-Shriar, The Making of British Anthropology, 1813–1871, London: Pickering and Chatto, 2013, pp. 147–176. Stocking, George W. (1963). "Matthew Arnold, E. B. Tylor, and the Uses of Invention" (PDF). American Anthropologist. 65: 783–799. doi:10.1525/aa.1963.65.4.02a00010. "Edward B. Tylor: The Science of Culture", Robert Graber, Truman State University Giulio Angioni, Tre saggi sull'antropologia dell'età coloniale (Palermo, Flaccovio, 1973); Fare, dire, sentire: l'identico e il diverso nelle culture (Nuoro, Il Maestrale, 2011). Ratnapalan, Laavanyan (2008). "E. B. Tylor and the Problem of Primitive Culture". History and Anthropology. 19 (2): 131142. Dawson, Hugh J. (1993). "E. B. Tylor's Theory of Survivals and Veblen's Social Criticism". Journal of the History of Ideas. 54: 489–504. doi:10.2307/2710025. JSTOR 2710025. Hodgen, Margaret T. (1931). "The doctrine of survivals: the history of an idea" (PDF). American Anthropologist. 33: 307–324. doi:10.1525/aa.1931.33.3.02a00010. Robert H. Lowie (1917) "Edward B. Tylor obituary". American Anthropologist Vol. 19 pp. 262–268 JSTOR 660758
Works written by or about
Edward Burnett Tylor
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