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7100 -- WEILER, BERND

Die Ordnung des Fortschritts. Zum Aufstieg und Fall der Fortschrittsidee in der "jungen" Anthropologie
(Wissensgesellschaft 1)
Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag 2006
521 pp., Euro 36.80; ISBN 3-89942-590-1
Keywords: anthropology, history of anthropology, evolutionism, diffusionism, Wiener Schule, Boas, F., Ratzel, F., Vienna School, cultural anthropology, progress (concept), otherness

The order of progress. On the ascent and decline of the idea of progress in the "young" discipline of anthropology This is a reconstruction, along the lines of the history of science and the sociology of knowledge, of the pioneering era of anthropology dominated by the euphoria of progress. Analyzing source material in a critical way Weiler shows, starting from 1850, how North American cultural anthropology and the Vienna School (Wiener Schule) depart from the idea of "cultural poverty" of the "savages" in the beginning 20th century and embark on a new trip in the history of science. For this purpose Weiler discusses the position of the natural sciences in 19th century Germany, the beginnings of anthropology emerging out of this spirit (exemplified in events in selected years from 1854 to 1872), then the anti-evolutionist turn both in American cultural anthropology and the Vienna School. Weiler concludes that even present-day thought is much addicted to the idea of progress that problems (of otherness, of "backwardness" etc.) will be solved in the course of time, i.e. that it is a kind of "evolution". He points to the dangers of this kind of thinking (because of the action that follows: trying to make them like us).

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