[lit-ideas] Tyloriana

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  • Date: Mon, 23 Feb 2015 19:41:26 -0500

In a message dated 2/23/2015 6:07:09 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
jejunejesuit.geary2@xxxxxxxxx writes:
Culture, culture, culture,  culture,  I got your culture right here.
Palma was being sceptic (or 'skeptic', if you must) about 'culture' or  
"keyword: culture", but surely Tyler couldn't have been THAT wrong.

Culture, or civilization, taken in its broad, ethnographic sense, is that  
complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom,  
and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man 
as a member of society. --- Tylor -- Oxford Dictionary of Quotations
What was *Tylor*'s culture?
E. B. Tylor was born on October 2, 1832, in Camberwell, a district of  
Tyor was the son of Tylor, Joseph Tylor, and Harriet Skipper, part of  a 
family of wealthy quakers who owned a London brass factory. 
His elder brother Alfred Tylor became a geologist, not an anthropologist as 
 Tylor the younger would become. 
Tylor was educated at Grove House School, Tottenham.
(Nancy Mitford prefers to say just "The Grove, Tottenham") 
But due to the deaths of both of Tylor's parents -- i.e. his father and his 
 mother -- during Tylor's early adulthood he never gained a university  
After both his parents' deaths -- his mother and his father -- Tylor  
prepared to help manage the family brass business, but had to set this plan  
aside when he developed symptoms consistent with the onset of tuberculosis  
(abbreviated as "TB"). 
Following the advice to spend time in warmer climes, Tylor left  England in 
1855, travelling (by ship) to Mexico and Central America. 
("I thought Massachussett's culture would be too much like mine -- being  
quaker," he later confessed -- "whereas in Mexico and Central America I could 
 practise languages"). 
The experience in Mexico and Central America proved to be an important and  
formative one, sparking his lifelong interest in studying unfamiliar 
"cultures",  as he called them.
"By calling them 'unfamiliar', I mean to say that they certainly were  not 
my _family_'s culture"). 
During his travels, Tylor met Henry Christie, a fellow Quaker, ethnologist  
and archaeologist. 
Tylor's association with Christie (or "Christy", as Christy preferred to  
spell his surname to confuse those who knew the Christies of  Derbyshire) 
greatly stimulated his awakening interest in anthropology and  culture, and 
helped broaden also his inquiries to include prehistoric  studies.
Tylor's first publication was a result of his 1856 trip to Mexico with  
Tylor's notes are in English and pertain to the beliefs and practices of  
the people he encountered.

The notes were the basis of his work "Anahuac; Or, Mexico and the  
Mexicans, Ancient and Modern" (1861) -- a parody on "Hymns, Ancient and 
published after his return to England. 
Tylor continued to study the customs and beliefs of tribal Mexican  
communities, both existing and prehistoric (based on archaeological finds). 
"I don't care if a culture is exctinct. It is still 'cultural' to study  
it", he would repeatedly tell Christie (who found the study of exctinct 
cultures  'otiose'). 
Tylor published a second work, "Researches into the Early History  of 
Mankind and the Development of Civilization", in 1865, also in English (A  
Mexican edition is still in preparation).
Following this came his most influential work, "Primitive Culture"  (1871).
This was important not only for its thorough study of human civilisation  
("Western civilisation? I think it would be a good idea!" Ghandi) and  
contributions to the emergent field of anthropology, but for its undeniable  
influence on a handful of scholars, such as J. G. Frazer, who were to become  
Tylor's disciples and contribute greatly to the scientific study of  CULTURAL 
anthropology in later years.
Tylor was appointed Keeper of the University Museum at Oxford in  1883.
Some say, "at Oxford University" but surely to say that he was the keeper  
of the University Museum at Oxford University violates one of Grice's maxims 
 ("Do not be repetitive twice"). 
He also served as a tour guide and a lecturer.

He actually held the title of the first "Reader in  Anthropology" at Oxford 
from 1884 to 1895. 
This was controversial, since the élite only went to Oxford to study Lit.  
Hum., not Anthropology. 
In 1896 Tylor is appointed the first "Professor of Anthropology"  at Oxford.
He was involved in the early history of the Pitt Rivers Museum, although to 
 a VERY debatable extent. (Geary knows more about this, since he was 
engaged in  the debate.
Tylor's awards and achievements include:
1871 Fellow of the Royal Society.
1875 Honorary degree of Doctor of  Civil Laws from Oxford.
1912 Knighted for his contributions to things. 
Tylor's notion is best described in his most famous work, the two-volume  
Primitive Culture. 
The first volume Tylor entitles "The Origins of Culture".
It deals with ethnography including social evolution, linguistics, and  
He borrowed (but  never returned) the ideal of evolution from Darwin,  one 
of his friends. 
The second volume is dedicated to "Religion in Primitive Culture", and  
deals mainly not just with C. of E. ("I always found writing about my own  
culture boring, and many readers shared that opinion with me") with his  
interpretation of animism ("now that _was_ fun"). 
Fundamental to understanding Tylor's notion is his negative feelings  
towards religion, and especially Christianity -- He never believed in the 39  
articles of faith of High Anglicanism ("Why 39? Seems like an arbitrary number  
to me.")
It is on the first page of "Primitive Culture" -- "the page one first  
reads," as Geary aptly notes -- that Tylor provides a definition which is one 
 his most widely recognised contributions to anthropology and the study of  
"Culture, or civilization, taken in its broad, ethnographic sense, is that  
complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, 
and  any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of 
Unlike many of his predecessors and contemporaries, Tylor asserts that the  
human mind and its capabilities are the same globally, despite a particular 
 society’s stage in social evolution.
This means that a hunter-gatherer society would possess the same amount of  
intelligence as an advanced industrial society. 
The difference, Tylor asserts, is education, which he considers the  
cumulative knowledge and methodology that takes thousands of years to acquire. 
Tylor often likens primitive cultures to “children”, and sees culture and  
the mind of humans as progressive. His work was a refutation of the theory 
of  social degeneration, which was popular at the time in Oxford (giving 
Cambridge  as an example).
At the end of "Primitive Culture", Tylor writes:
"The science of culture is essentially a reformers' science"
and this became a popular graffito in Oxford.
A term ascribed to Tylor was his theory of "survivals". 
Tylor asserts that when a society evolves, certain customs are retained  
that are unnecessary ("as five o'clock tea", he writes, "which is in England  
drunk at four o'clock as a matter of fact") in the new society, like outworn 
and  useless "baggage".
His definition of survivals is
"processes, customs, and opinions, and so forth, which have been carried on 
 by force of habit into a new state of society different from that in which 
they  had their original home, and they thus remain as proofs and examples 
of an older  condition of culture out of which a newer has been evolved."
"Survivals" can include outdated practices, such as the European practice  
of bloodletting, which lasted long after the medical theories on which it 
was  based had faded from use and been replaced by more modern techniques.
Critics argued that he identified the term but provided an insufficient  
reason as to why survivals continue. Tylor’s meme-like concept of survivals  
explains the characteristics of a culture that are linked to earlier stages 
of  human culture.
Studying survivals assists ethnographers in reconstructing earlier cultural 
 characteristics and possibly reconstructing the evolution of culture.
Tylor argued that people had used religion to explain things that occurred  
in the world.
He saw that it was important for religions to have the ability to explain  
why and for what reason things occurred in the world.
For example, God (or the divine) gave us sun to keep us warm and give us  
light. Tylor argued that animism is the true natural religion that is the  
essence of religion; it answers the questions of which religion came first and 
 which religion is essentially the most basic and foundation of all  
For him, animism was the best answer to these questions, so it must be the  
true foundation of all religions. Animism is described as the belief in 
spirits  inhabiting and animating beings, or souls existing in things.
To Tylor, the fact that modern religious practitioners continued to believe 
 in spirits showed that these people were no more advanced than primitive  
For him, this implied that modern religious practitioners do not understand 
 the ways of the universe and how life truly works because they have 
excluded  science from their understanding of the world.
By excluding scientific explanation in their understanding of why and how  
things occur, he asserts modern religious practitioners are rudimentary. 
Tylor  perceived the modern religious belief in God as a “survival” of 
primitive  ignorance.[18] He claimed the contemporary belief in God to be a 
survival,  because science could explain the phenomena previously justified by  
Tylor, Anahuac: or, Mexico and the Mexicans, Ancient and Modern, Longman,  
Green, Longman and Roberts.
'Researches into the Early History of Mankind and  the Development of 
Civilization, John Murray.
'Primitive Culture Vol 1, John  Murray.
'Primitive Culture Vol 2,  John Murray.
Anthropology an  introduction to the study of man and civilization, 
On a Method of  Investigating the Development of Institutions; applied to 
Laws of Marriage and  Descent Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute vol 
Tylor, Edward Burnett". Who's Who, 59: p. 1785. 1907.
Paul Bohannan,  Social Anthropology (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston)
Lewis, Herbert  S. "The Misrepresentation of Anthropology and its 
Consequences", American  Anthropologist 100: 716–731
"Animism", Online Etymology Dictionary.
Lowrie, Robert H. "Edward B. Tylor", American Anthropologist, New Series  
Vol. 19, No. 2., pp. 262–268.
Edward Burnett Tylor: biography", Pitt Rivers  Museum
Giulio Angioni, L'antropologia evoluzionistica di Edward B. Tylor in  Tre 
saggi... cit. in Related Studies
8.Tylor, Edward. Primitive Culture. New York: J. P. Putnam’s Sons. Volume  
1, page 1.
Stringer, Martin D.  "Rethinking Animism: Thoughts from the  Infancy of Our 
Discipline", The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute,  Vol. 5, 
No. 4. ), pp. 541–555.
Tylor, Edward. Primitive Culture. New York: J. P. Putnam’s Sons, p.  410.
Wallis, Wilson D. "Reviewed Work(s): 'The Doctrine of Survivals' by  
Margaret T. Hodgen", The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 49, No. 193. pp.  
Tylor, Edward. Primitive Culture. New York: J. P. Putnam’s Sons.  16.
Braun, Willi and Russel T. McCutcheon, eds. Guide to the Study of  
Religion. London: Continuum. 160.
Moore, Jerry D. "Edward Tylor: The  Evolution of Culture," Visions of 
Culture: an Introduction to Anthropological  Theories and Theorists, Walnut 
Creek, California: Altamira, . 23.
Moore,  Jerry D. "Edward Tylor: The Evolution of Culture." Visions of 
Culture: an  Introduction to Anthropological Theories and Theorists. Walnut 
Creek: Altamira,  1997. 24.
Strenski, Ivan. "The Shock of the 'Savage': Edward Burnett Tylor,  
Evolution, and Spirits," Thinking About Religion: An Historical Introduction to 
Theories of Religion. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.,   93.
17Strenski, Ivan. "The Shock of the 'Savage': Edward Burnett Tylor,  
Evolution, and Spirits." Thinking About Religion: An Historical Introduction to 
Theories of Religion. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.,  94.
Strenski,  Ivan. "The Shock of the 'Savage': Edward Burnett Tylor, 
Evolution, and Spirits."  Thinking About Religion: An Historical Introduction 
Theories of Religion.  Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 99.
Joan Leopold, Culture in Comparative  and Evolutionary Perspective: E. B. 
Tylor and the Making of Primitive Culture  (Berlin: Dietrich Reimer Verlag).
Efram Sera-Shriar, The Making of British  Anthropology, 1813–1871, London: 
Pickering and Chatto, pp. 147–176.
George W.  Stocking, "Matthew Arnold, E. B. Tylor, and the Uses of 
Invention", American  Anthropologist, 65 783–799
"Edward B. Tylor: The Science of Culture", Robert  Graber, Truman State 
Giulio Angioni, Tre saggi sull'antropologia  dell'età coloniale (Palermo, 
Flaccovio); Fare, dire, sentire: l'identico e il  diverso nelle culture 
(Nuoro, Il Maestrale, 2011).
Laavanyan Ratnapalan, "E.  B. Tylor and the Problem of Primitive Culture," 
History and Anthropology, 19, 2  131142.
Hugh J. Dawson  "E. B. Tylor's Theory of Survivals and Veblen's  Social 
Criticism", Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 54, pp. 489–504 
Margaret T. Hodgen "The doctrine of survivals: the history of an idea".  
American Anthropologist, vol 33. pp. 307–324
Robert H. Lowie "Edward B. Tylor  obituary". American Anthropologist Vol. 
19 pp. 262–268 JSTOR 660758
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