Anthropology has its intellectual origins in both the natural sciences, and the humanities. Its basic questions concern, “What defines Homo sapiens?” “Who are the ancestors of modern Homo sapiens?” “What are our physical traits?” “How do we behave?” “Why are there variations and differences among different groups of humans?” “How has the evolutionary past of Homo sapiens influenced its social organization and culture?” and so forth.
While specific modern anthropologists have a tendency to specialize in technical subfields, their data and ideas are routinely synthesized into larger works about the scope and progress of our species.
The term “anthropology” refers in common parlance most often to Cultural Anthropology, the study of the culture, beliefs, and practices of living people. In American universities, however, the department of Anthropology often includes three or four subfields, including cultural anthropology, archaeology, biological anthropology and linguistic anthropology. However, in universities in the United Kingdom, and much of Europe, these fields are frequently housed in separate departments.
In Science, the term natural science refers to a naturalistic approach to the study of the universe, which is understood as obeying rules or laws of natural origin. Overall, natural science is the core of all sciences.
The term natural science is also used to distinguish those fields that use the scientific method to study nature from the social sciences and the humanities, which use the scientific method to study human behavior and society; and from the formal sciences, such as mathematics and logic, which use a different (a priori) methodology.
The humanities are academic disciplines which study the human condition, using methods that are primarily analytic, critical, or speculative, as distinguished from the mainly empirical approaches of the natural and social sciences.
Examples of the disciplines of the humanities are ancient and modern languages, literature, history, philosophy, religion, and visual and performing arts (including music). Additional subjects sometimes included in the humanities are technology, anthropology, area studies, communication studies, cultural studies, and linguistics, although these are often regarded as social sciences. Scholars working in the humanities are sometimes described as “humanists”. However, that term also describes the philosophical position of humanism, which some “antihumanist” scholars in the humanities reject.
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