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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Culture and society comprise the third level. But much of the blame can be laid at the feet of Kroeber himself. But he also argues that individual organic endowment cannot affect civilization. Superorganlc feel free to share it widely, including dumping it in whatever archive works for you.

“The Superorganic,” or Kroeber’s hidden agenda.

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. What, then, is his argument?

Or does anthropology have a unique method? 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. Looking at the relationship between living things and their inorganic components in this way helps us to understand the relationship between culture and persons.

Originally published in in American Anthropologistthe article drew important responses from Edward Sapir and Alexander Iroeber. Similarly, the dog, if seen as a biological system, operates at a higher complexity than the inorganic elements which comprise it. Finally, Kroeber argues that the legitimacy of anthropology or history, these terms are used superrganic in a way that modern readers may find strange is tied to the existence of culture. I will keep going until I complete a free anthology suitable for classroom use, or until I get bored.


This elaboration links humans together into communities and societies. At the same time, Kroeber argues, art and literature conveys truths that are enduring, but which are aesthetic and not scientific.

By cleaning and curating a selection of open access, I hope to make open access resources better known and to raise awareness of the actual history of anthropological theory. If other minds want to publish in the series, then they can do so too — who kroeberr what projects they may want to cook up…. Kroeber occupies several positions here, and the loose ends in this section of his argument would be taken up by future thinkers. The essay is clearly written and structured, but there is little explicit signposting.

They have developed communications between themselves to an elaborate degree, much more sophisticated than other animals. Both Darwin and Wallace imagined evolution, and neither would have been accepted if society was not ready for the idea.

Similarly, do not think of a community, an institution, a society as a human being. The current approach is to protect isolated peoples as much as possible, to suprorganic contact only as a last resort.

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. Even the greatest inventions, he argues, will only take root if a culture is prepared to accept them. Thanks for your comment and I hope to continue this discussion with you and others, Glenn. Human beings are animals, and as such are organic systems. A living entity transcends its inorganic parts.


For recently contacted peoples, FUNAI tries to do as much as possible to convince them to continue living as they did prior to contact. If we start with the inorganic, it is the physical universe, all the atoms of elements without life.

Do not think of a dog as a carbon atom or a hydrocarbon molecule. I hope that this will become one of a series of papers which present early anthropological theory in a form that is accessible to everyone. Why not prefer a biological reduction of human action? And frankly, once must already know what is in it in order to know it is worth finding in the first place.

Culture as the superorganic

The second level of complexity is composed of living things. One quick note, folks: Do not anthropomorphise culture. Dear Robin, Thanks for writing. But HAU may beat me to it.

And yet it is little read today. How, then, could culture have originated if it is such a unique phenomena?