As the science of man, anthropology was among the most exciting disciplines during the period of intense change from the early modern era to modernity. Where demons had once wielded their power, after 1800, it was now the unlimited shoals of the subconscious that were disseminated. Or did they actually stay right next to each other and within one another?
Although anatomy has a long tradition of being a discipline within the Aristotelian tradition, anthropology attempted to find an interest despite its increasing unification into a science. Where anatomy had concerned itself with zoology, and thus had its foundation firmly in natural philosophy, anthropology dealt with the "natural man," an awkward term which carried Christian assumptions of original sin. Still the other disciplines of psychology and medicine were only emerging, and so anthropology formed the model of the scientific, objective study of a living reality.
In this way, it was very similar to the social sciences of the present day that we teach in our courses and that form the basis of our social/global world as conveyed through sociology, economics, and even political science, much in the same way that history was considered the discipline that's specialized in studying human prehistory.
This is interesting because, after the Enlightenment, the elites of Europe grew increasingly xenophobic and, in direct opposition to the Enlightenment's emphasis on reason, they denied that there was anything that was "natural" about people or society. Instead, they focused on a humanizing logic of culture, and the cultural differences that defined people as different. This was the beginning of a movement to locate cultures in particular places, and, in practice, to make culture the one characteristic of places that could be measured and quantified. This is why research foundations around the world have put together vast research programs based on a vision of a global and universal human nature, and how people fit into it. In this respect, the study of the individual human is more interesting to them than the study of culture or society. d2c66b5586