Archaeology [Greek: archaiologia = ancient history] is a relatively new science concerned with the excavation and analysis of artifacts, texts, structures and organic material (such as skeletons) from past civilizations.
The birth of archaeology is often associated with J. J. Winckelmann’s Geschichte der Kunst des Altertums (History of Ancient Art), published in 1764.
When it first appeared, carbon dating was sometimes upheld as the miracle tool that would pinpoint precise dates for discovered objects. But the accuracy of carbon dating is now debated. Almost all agree that carbon dating becomes less precise as we go further back in time.
Others maintain that carbon dating results sometimes can be misleading due to the hoarding and biased interpretation of artifacts and, in some cases, an overzealous desire to advance a career by “proving” a pet theory.
International politics and profit incentives may also come into play with archaeology as ancient remnants are often found in poor, politically sensitive, volatile and even war-torn nations. Local politicians are usually required to authorize certificates for archaeological materials requested for investigation or release from a site, which sometimes slows things down.
The term archaeology was also used by the psychologist Sigmund Freud. Freud employed the image of ruins within an ancient city to portray the relation between the unconscious and the ego (i.e. consciousness).
More recently, the French poststructuralist Michel Foucault used the metaphor of archaeology quite loosely to suggest the possibility of ideologically “buried” forms of knowledge. Foucault’s use of archaeology does not refer to questions like: “Did aliens build the pyramids?” or “What was the location of ancient Atlantis?”¹ Rather, Foucault’s work deals with reconstructing a network of connections, assumptions, expectations, techniques, values and beliefs assumed to exist in a given historical place and time.
Foucault’s archaeological metaphor is directly applied to a historical text, which he calls an “open site.” The notion of an open site suggests that the task of reconstructing historical meaning from texts is necessarily incomplete.
¹ Foucault did not ask these questions, but contemporary postmoderns might. Postmodernism and critical theory are slowly moving toward a greater appreciation of mysticism and esoterica. A good example of this integrative shift can be found in the work of G. E. Gallas.
Related Posts » Anthropology
- Suppressed Archeological Mysteries (therebel.org)
- Encouraging tourism, the archaeology way (thehindu.com)
- Houston Anthropologist Reveals Irrefutable Proof that Recorded History is Wrong (wakingtimes.com)
- Updates on Class + Virtual Archaeology (uwodigihuman.wordpress.com)
- The Archaeology of Religion and Culture in Late Antique Greece (mediterraneanworld.wordpress.com)
- Re: Open Question: How will digital humanities impact archaeology and ancient history? (hastac.org)
- M. Foucault, ‘C… (michielyne3110.wordpress.com)
- Archaeology and the Public (seacunderground.wordpress.com)
- The Technology Of Archaeology (gizmodo.com.au)
Anthropology (Greek anthropos: humans + logos: thought) is the all-inclusive study of human beings.
Its two main branches are physical and cultural anthropology. Physical anthropology deals mostly with physiological issues while cultural anthropology, not surprisingly, examines cultural development. The systematic study of language, art and myth emerged from cultural anthropology.
In the 1930′s a further distinction was made between cultural and social anthropology. Cultural anthropology came to mean a holistic view of how social acts relate to larger systems, whereas social anthropology became the study of specific social practices.
Also related to anthropology is archaeology and its various attempts to recreate historical societies and accurately date uncovered artifacts.
Related Posts » Carbon Dating
- Culture Belongs to Anthropology (clarissasblog.com)
- Anthropology/Sociology (atorossian.wordpress.com)
- Anthropological Approaches to Online Communities: Monetizing YouTube (wiihfellows.wordpress.com)
- Tim Ingold on Anthropology, Ars, and Self-Transformation (syntheticzero.net)
- Society for Medical Anthropology (tonysardou.wordpress.com)
- Trend Alert: Corporate Anthropology Marketing (benchmarkemail.com)
- Department Enrollments Grow, But Also Lose Ground (aaanet.org)
- The Second Issue of Open Anthropology is Here! (aaanet.org)
- Anthropology and Montaigne’s “Others” (anthropologicalmusings.wordpress.com)
- “Soundscapes: Toward a Sounded Anthropology” by David Samuels, Louise Meintjes, Ana Maria Ochoa, and Thomas Porcello (soundartabstraction.wordpress.com)
In the academic study of sociology we often hear the phrase “badge of legitimacy.” It also crops up in news analysis, general education and marketing.
In sociology a badge of legitimacy usually refers to credentials (such as medical, academic or legal degrees) that connote some kind of socially legitimate expertise. As such, a badge of legitimacy conveys social power, privilege or status upon individuals who possesses one. The term can also apply to some official social body or organization (such as the UK’s FSA).
Sociologists sometimes use the term dryly, and maybe with a touch of cynicism, as if to imply that the particular “badge” they are referring to is somewhat questionable or in need of critical examination.
Critics of sociology could argue that this cynical use of the phrase badge of legitimacy is hypocritical. After all, some sociologists portray themselves as societal gurus who “decode” or “deconstruct” culture, all the while fully benefiting from their own academic badges of legitimacy in the form of salaries, pensions, insurance benefits and a respected social standing.
To this charge, the sociologist would likely reply that they apply whatever academic power they have to ”unpack” or “rethink” aspects of culture desperately in need of reassessment—such as racism, sexism, ageism and scientism.
So, in a positive light, one could say that the sociologist tries to raise awareness and, by implication, improve social conditions. However, the same kind of defense could be made by any group in possession of a badge of legitimacy. That is, they use their power and authority to provide some kind of vital service to society.
- We should study sociology of sanitation: Academics (indiavision.com)
- SOA at the BSA Annual Conference (brainthing.wordpress.com)
- Why Sociology? (everydaysociologyblog.com)
- The 5 Things You Need To Know To Get Badging (youtopia.com)
- challenge for cultural sociologists who are interested in political sociology (orgtheory.wordpress.com)
- Do the Disadvantaged Legitimize the Social System? A Large-Scale Test of the Status-Legitimacy Hypothesis (scicombinator.com)
- An ID Badge Just for You (caregiving.com)
In semiology connotation is the idea that a linguistic or vocal sign contains more than mere descriptive value (called the denotative value). This idea isn’t only known to semiologists. Poets and fiction writers have known about the importance of connotation for centuries. And in the social sciences, the French historian Fernand Braudel wrote in 1963:
[The definition of] most expressions, far from being fixed for ever, vary from one author to another, and continually evolve before our eyes.¹
What many semiologists do stress, however, is the importance not only of the writer but also the reader in the creation of multiple meanings.
Along these lines, Jacques Derrida believes that signs contain an infinite number of possible connotations. So communication is a potentially endless chain of connotative signification, with connotations playing off one another in a discontinuous matrix of linguistically constructed meaning. One of Derrida’s interesting claims here is that denotation plays next to no role in the process. In other words, everything is connotation.
The discussion about the absolute essence of a thing vs. its communal meaning(s) is many layered and goes back at least to the Scholastics of the Middle Ages. And as far back as Aristotle, the distinction between literal and figurative meaning has been discussed. More recent trends are summarized here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connotation_%28semiotics%29
¹ Fernand Braudel, A History of Civilizations, trans. Richard Mayne, Penguin, 1993 , p. 3.
- Connotations At Work (streetphotographerstoolbox.wordpress.com)
- Lehi changes road name over sexual connotation (fox13now.com)
- Utah town renames street due to sexual connotation (digitalspy.co.uk)
- Anne, Connotation, and Winter Sundays (ourenglishclass.net)
- The Big ship (heartwalks.wordpress.com)
- Rousing the Male Feminist. ~ Alena Q. Reed (elephantjournal.com)
Conscience is a somewhat mysterious and much debated concept. In contemporary psychology it’s understood as a conscious system of moral values, or that aspect of the self that the person experiences as giving voice to these values–i.e. “my higher self says I shouldn’t do this.”
According to Freudian psychoanalysis, the conscience differs from the superego in that the former refers to moral values (the “still, small voices”) held in our conscious mind. The superego, on the other hand, contains moral values that are, in part, unconscious.
In religion, we find some belief systems claiming that the conscience comes from a higher plane or realm (e.g. astral or heavenly). But conscience is sometimes contrasted, in Catholicism for instance, with the Will of God. The belief here is that an unenlightened person may suppose they’re making good choices when they’re not.¹
¹ See, for instance, the Catholic devotional book, My Daily Bread by Father Anthony Paone.
- Only Proactive People Can Genuinely Love Others, Reactive People Can’t (updated) (realtruelove.wordpress.com)
- Conscience is your Compass (paradoxicalwisdom.wordpress.com)
- Fear is the tax that conscience pays to guilt (paradoxicalwisdom.wordpress.com)
- As I’m (Realised) (socyberty.com)
- JFK’s ‘Speech on Faith’ – The Conscience: False Dichotomy Part I – Truth and Charity Forum (newsforcatholics.wordpress.com)
- Am I Creating Negative ‘Karma’? – Guilt As An Indicator (zenandtheartofhealing.wordpress.com)
- Fashion with a conscience (cosmopolitan.co.uk)
August Comte (1798-1857) was a French philosopher and a founder of the discipline of sociology. His lectures, published in six volumes from 1830-42, outline a particular school of philosophy called positivism. Some describe him as the first modern philosopher of science.
Comte envisions three phases of scientific development: (1) theological (2) metaphysical (3) experiential or positive.
He coined the term sociology and regarded it as the master discipline among the sciences. This stands in sharp contrast to theologians like Hugh of Saint Victor (c. 1096 – 1141) who claim that theology is the noblest of sciences because of its focus and purpose.
- The Debate Over Christianity, Objectivism, and Altruism Continues (citizentom.com)
- Positivist Mythology (onlyagame.typepad.com)
Civilization and its Discontents is an important work written in 1929 (after WWI) by Sigmund Freud in which he proposes a “death instinct” (thanatos) said to exist on both personal and cultural levels.
Freud says tensions arise between personal, instinctual desires their cultural repression. And realizing that mankind is capable of mass destruction, Freud suggests that not only individuals but subcultures and even entire societies can be neurotic.
This might all seem pretty obvious today but in his time, Freud was groundbreaking.
- The psychoanalysis of ruins (3ammagazine.com)
- The Happiness Equation (andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com)
- Cathexis (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- Self Preservation vs. Social Anxiety (kweschn.wordpress.com)
- Gerel Sorbee Human beings have “no difficulty in exterminating one another to the last man (lissakr11humanelife.wordpress.com)
- Sense from nonsense (hieronymousdotnet.wordpress.com)
- Censor (earthpages.wordpress.com)
In the general sense, denotation means representing by signs or symbols. In semiotics it means affixing a specific, fixed meaning to a sign, in contrast to connotation. Although some thinkers present this distinction as if it’s a recent development, it was first introduced by J. S. Mill in A System of Logic in 1843.¹
Jacques Derrida and his followers suggest that the semiotic sense of denotation is, for the most part, chimerical and that everything is connotation. From this, one may try to claim that “there is only connotation.” But this claim arguably creates a meta-truth or master denotation that may also endlessly self reference (i.e. be reapplied to itself) in an infinite series of connotation. So this kind of claim would be paradoxically true and false.
¹ See online at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/27942
- Common Core R.CCR.4 Explained (teachingthecore.wordpress.com)
- Thoughtfully Chosen Words with More Positive Connotations Can Achieve Very Positive Results (socyberty.com)
- Spirituality and the Politics of Language (subjunctivemorality.wordpress.com)
- Roland Barthes 2 (slideshare.net)
- Semiotics and Formalism (prmarketingcommunication.com)
- No It Isn’t. (philosophyinatimeoferror.wordpress.com)
- Lexical Meaning Analysis in Westlife’s Song Lyric (zubarman.wordpress.com)
- পটের চিন্হতত্ত্ব Semiotics of Photography (debaprasad.wordpress.com)
‘Educated…’ Ironically, this might be one of the most unexamined ideas in contemporary culture. What does it mean to be educated?
Psychologists now admit that most IQ tests are culture-bound. Kids growing up in ghettos are more likely to do poorly on professionally engineered tests. If so-called Ivy League children were to spend a few years in a ghetto without their parents’ resources nor social connections, how ‘educated’ would they be in that environment? Clearly the education of a street kid and a wealthy person differ. Both are educated but the social status attributed to each is unequal and discriminatory.
The above, of course, is one extreme example. More subtle forms of discrimination based on arbitrary views of education are found practically every time we venture out into public spaces. And erudition – or even spiritual knowledge – doesn’t necessarily translate into a decent, morally integrated person.
- What is Iq? (socyberty.com)
- Education: Beating the I.Q. Test (time.com)
- School Health & Wellness News Roundup: Week of April 16, 2012 (cityconnectsblog.wordpress.com)
- We Should be Thankful for Student Loans (loans.org)
- G is for Genius (mommasmoneymatters.com)
- On Intelligence – Week 21 (26 – 30 March) (tuele.wordpress.com)
- Thesis Proposal – Overrepresentation of Blacks in the Special Education Classroom (thinkingbookworm.typepad.com)
- The Need to Believe in the Ability of Disability (psychologytoday.com)
- Tiny gene change affects brain size, IQ: scientists (talesfromthelou.wordpress.com)
- Bryan Caplan’s signaling model and on-line education (marginalrevolution.com)
The Forces of Production is a concept developed from the work of Karl Marx. Although Marx’s theory of history is variously interpreted, writers such as G. A. Cohen argue that politics, religion and economics (i.e. the social aspect of exchange) do not determine a given societal formation.
Instead, societal type is an outcome of the dominant forces of production, or ‘productive forces.’ The forces of production refers to the way a given society actually produces commodities. The forces of production include raw materials, tools, technology and the knowledge of how to organize labor power and use available tools.
While some writers apply the term ‘economics’ to include the forces of production, Cohen and other theorists say that economics more properly refers to the social relations of production. The relations of production refers to the uniquely social aspects of production in a given society, usually the legal or brute force mechanisms of exploiting labor, extracting surplus and maintaining social dominance of the few over the many.
- Marx Study Guide: Critique – Preface (keratibalahs.wordpress.com)
- Marx The Gothic Communist (enlightenedscot.wordpress.com)
- The Trouble with Marxism (Part Two) (pogoprinciple.wordpress.com)