Department of Biological Anthropology

Biological Anthropology, sometimes called physical, that is, the Anthropology of Buffon's Natural History, that of Linnaeus's Systema naturae, or that of Blumenbach, is the great categorical perspective that is constituted, without normative restriction of any kind, as natural science after medical anthropology. From a strictly biological point of view, a genetic malformation is not merely an “aberration” that would have to be corrected, but rather the indication, which should be pursued, that the human germ is also subject to mutations, which is manipulable by genetic engineering. that is, its structure is to be seen as a phase of a broader, more complex evolutionary process; even many of the occupational diseases may be seen by the biologist from a different perspective than that inspired by Ramazzini's De morbis artificium, that is, as adaptation mechanisms or, simply, as “solutions” to the fight for life.

As a categorical perspective, physical anthropology accesses anthropological material [243] insofar as it represents the structure of a distributive totality [24]. Only now the terms of that totality are no longer individuals as constituted by organs, members, etc. [259], but individuals enshrined in races and varieties, which does not exclude, but includes, the need to consider their formal parts at different scales, ranging from organs and bones and other "morphological" parts to the parts that For example, DNA macromolecules remain formal, in the so-called “Molecular Anthropology”. At the same time that individuals appear encased in races and varieties and linked to different climates and places (not only segregated from them) they also appear as parts or segments of the order of primates and this even before the Theory of Evolution (as seen in Linnaeus). In fact, and assuming that man is understood as a species, physical anthropology will be organized precisely as anthropology of races. We want to emphasize that if these terms of the field, the human individuals, were not enshrined in subspecific classes, physical Anthropology would lose its own internal matter, reducing itself to a chapter of differential primatology. It is precisely the internal varieties within the species, of the individuals, that delimits the horizon of the new discipline, which, in any case, remains a chapter of Zoology as a co-generic development [61] of the zoological perspective . In the hypothesis that, in a day perhaps not too long ago, the variety of men disappeared to give way, after a mixture of races, to a uniform type, perhaps similar in appearance to the current Malay, then also biological anthropology, except in its historical part, it would be reduced to the condition of differential primatology.

Because what constitutes this physical anthropology is precisely the consideration of the human variety, not only in its structural differences, but also genetic and causal, and among these causes the natural geographic habitat always counts in some way.

Biological anthropology, understood in this way, seems committed to human variety and its mixtures, and although in no way can it theoretically oppose the leveling of races (which is a possibility given within its concepts), nevertheless, it should be added that , by structure, it moves within the horizon of these varieties and hence its historical contact with racism. The conception and death of individuals do not constitute the limits of biological anthropology, since their interest (unlike medical anthropology) is oriented, above all, to individuals of different races to the extent that they have reproductive capacity. The limits of Biological Anthropology are determined, apart from, by Protoanthropology, by the study of hominids, including Austrolopithecines and pitecanthropics. A part post, by cultural anthropology, while many biological varieties appear in continuity with cultural differences. And it is here that the borders of biological anthropology tend to conflict with cultural anthropology, given the "imperialist" (reductionist) tendency of biological anthropology. This situation was admirably formulated, more than a century ago, by Edgar Quinet (The Creation, Book VI, chap. 10): “But it will be said, a naturalist has nothing to do with the works of man. How! Does it have nothing to do with the customs, the industries, the constructions of vertebrates or invertebrates? Why not also add that in the life of the bee there is no reason to take care of its industry, its art, their jobs and their honey, and that all this is of no interest to other than poets and dreamers? "As human architecture expresses the whole spirit of a society, so the shell of a mollusk more or less accurately translates the characters of the animal that has made its room from it," said book XI chap. Four.

As a branch of biological anthropology, then, ethological anthropology must also be considered, that is, human ethology or ethno-anthropology (to which, of course, human psychology in functions of anthropology is reduced). Human Ethology is also generic, and its light extends to all men. According to many, to the entire kingdom of human culture. But this claim will collide with arguments taken from methodology and cultural anthropology. The arguments of reductionist human ethology are more convincing as we return "backwards", or towards the generic, for example, as we stick to instruments as "hands-on" tools. But they darken when we go to machine tools and practically turn off when we enter the realm of automatic machines. The ethno anthropologist can say many things to a man operating a hoe, but can only say trivialities to a man operating a computer. However, the computer, as before Geometry, are cultural realities and this is what determines the main difficulty, in our opinion, that raises the pretense of identifying Anthropology with the "Science of Culture".


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