Evolution and Progress

4 April 2015
An analysis of the different theories of evolution of Herbert Spencer, Lewis Henry Morgan, Edward Tylor and Franz Boas.

This paper presents the theories of the evolutionists regarding evolution and progress and compares them to the criticism presented by Frank Boas on the theory of human progress.
“Herbert Spenser, Lewis Morgon and Taylor all depended strictly on the theoretical dimensions of the theory of evolution and social progress and did not take into account the statistics that would have upheld their theories. They suggested that the theories were infallible on their own but Boas had other thoughts. In the earliest years of anthropology, words and things were treated as objects to be collected: the Linnaean concept of material objects as natural history specimens parallels the folklorist’s notion of narrative plots as collectible, mappable, comparable things (Chapman 1985). Boas, early on, considered them to be ‘pre-existing’ attributes of culture, somehow pure because they seemed to him less influenced by the ethnographic observer than other aspects of culture. While the evolutionary theorists depended on cultural changes for proof of development Boas demanded statistical evidence and therein lay the main point of dissent for without evidence the evolutionists became just another fragment of society offering a theory with no evidence.”

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