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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Both Darwin and Wallace imagined evolution, and neither would have been accepted if society was not ready for the idea. Knowing the dynamics of how carbon atoms operate, or that combining hydrogen and oxygen can result in a rapid combustion if not an explosion, does not explain how the tree works, with its leaves converting sunlight into energy to change water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and carbon, channels to transfer sap from leaves to root, and so on.

One quick note, folks: All living things, plants and animals, are built ktoeber of inorganic elements, mainly hydrogen, oxygen and carbon, plus some trace elements. If other minds want to publish in the series, then they can do so too — who knows what projects they may want to cook up….

The second level of complexity is composed of living things. At the same time, Kroeber argues, art and literature conveys truths that are enduring, but which are aesthetic and not scientific. We can call this the lowest level of complexity.


Thanks for your comment and I hope to continue this discussion with you and others, Glenn. There are no superior races. If you analyse all those parts, in themselves, or even as a collection, usperorganic are not living. Similarly, the dog, if seen as a biological system, operates at a higher complexity than the inorganic elements which comprise it.

Rather, culture operates on its own level of determination. Race, Language, Culture, Psychology, and Prehistory. It is indeed a very tricky situation, especially since Peru lacks the kind of organized institution with clear policies and relevant experience such as FUNAI in Brazil.

I have cut it down to just under 8, On the contrary DJ — this was designed to introduce you to the anthropology you always wanted to do but never knew thee Is anthropology a unique discipline because it has a unique subject matter?

The arrangement makes them alive. These are indicated with brackets.

Savage Mind’s new occasional paper series: first up, The Superorganic | Savage Minds

Those are carried by individuals. Please feel free to krroeber widely! In it, I will present a series of open access, curated texts from the history of anthropological theory.

Do not think of a dog as superorvanic carbon atom or a hydrocarbon molecule. Since you know well the Lowie collection at Berkeley, are there any texts that might be available online?

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.



Humans have thoughts and behaviour. Please feel free to share it widely, including dumping it in whatever archive works for you. And frankly, once must already know what is in it in order to know it is worth finding in the first place. It may have a life of its own, but its life more resembles an amoeba than a human. The essay is clearly written and structured, but there is little explicit signposting. Similarly, do not think of a community, an institution, a society as a human being.

The essay is extremely long, and larded with multiple examples used to make the same point.

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

Folks, today I am beginning something new: Looking at the relationship between living things and their inorganic components in this way helps us to understand the relationship between culture and persons.

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.

I will keep going until Tge complete a free anthology suitable for classroom use, or until I get bored.