December 13, 2017


The momentum of revival and revision of evolutionary ideas came from the work of American ethnologist and cultural studies Leslie White (1900-1975). His scientific work began L. White in a situation where the American scientific community was dominant views. He says that being absorbed graduate school doctrine Franz Boas (1858-1942). According to L. White, F. Boas, who was born, raised and educated in Germany, and since 1887 in the US, a quarter century led the American attack on evolutionary understanding of culture. Many followers of the school of F. Boas opposed the theory of evolution of culture is not limited to those that were set LR Morgan R. Spencer. L. White wrote that by starting to teach, he soon discovered that cannot defend this view and then – which is no longer able to adhere to this. In his lecture course titled “Evolution of culture” that L. White read the University of Michigan for many years, he tried to create a modern, appropriate mid XX century. understanding of evolutionary theory.

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Besides rethinking the concept of evolution of culture and the use of CE for the analysis of human culture, a significant contribution to the development of L. White was the cultural knowledge they study the science of culture – cultural studies.

The question of determining the actual cultural issues devoted some of his collection of articles “science of culture”. L. White uses the term “cultural” significantly causing events that unfolded in the study of culture last third of XX – beginning of XXI century.

In several published works L. White argues that the theory of cultural evolution is not related to Charles Darwin’s theory and not borrowed from biology. The origins of this theory can be found in the writings of Ibn Khaldun, D. Hume, JA Condorcet, Kant, VR Herder Comte, Herbert Spencer and many other scientists. The theory of evolution in addition to culture, from the standpoint L. White, is quite simple: wee one stage of civilization does not occur by itself, but grows or develops in the previous stage. The evolutionary approach is not associated with a unique event in the culture, its specificity – to identify common properties, identify universals of culture. In the preface to the book “The evolution of culture. The development of civilization to the fall of Rome” L. White defends the legality of the theory of evolution, noting that it “was proposed instead of teaching the theory of creation that came from theology.” In this work he sets out his understanding of culture as the ability to create characters people.

The first part of the book, called “Primitive Culture” scholar traces the course of culture from its beginning a million years ago to the eve of “agricultural revolution”, identifying those common properties that make up the integrity of human culture, and to help you understand and particular. He begins his analysis of the immediate ancestors of man, on which human society initially inherited two main branches: the family and the local (territorial) group. Formation of human society contributed to many factors: the articulate language, using human tools, the presence of the family as the primary building block that performs functions other than floors and economic function, and later became the basis of social organization. L. White shows how to measure the impact of increasing technological control over nature evolved kinship, there are special rules of etiquette and ethics, promote social welfare and integrated union groups living together on terms of mutual assistance. All named has meant that actual economies original identical systems of kinship. In addition, L. White emphasizes the importance of myth, magic and rituals to consolidate primitive peoples, to give life and meaning to each individual a sense of confidence and self-worth. In addition, myths and rituals of ancient life gave primitive man brightness and brilliance that has made the necessary diversity in everyday work and others struggle with harsh living conditions.

Feature any culture L. White displays the amount of power through which it operates, as well as in primitive cultures only source of power was the man himself, and it follows its limitations. However, noting the limitations and ineffectiveness in many areas of primitive culture, an American researcher emphasizes the special importance it evolved social systems based on kinship and characterized by “freedom, equality and fraternity.” According to him, they are “more suited to human nature as the primacy and more compatible with his physical needs and desires than any other system ever implemented in any of the cultures that existed after the” agricultural revolution “(including our own modern society)”.

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A new stage in human development associated with the transition from an organization based on kinship, to the organization based on property relations that marked a transition to a civil society. This fact he regards as the first major cultural revolution in history, in connection with which explains the difference between the two ways of evolutionary development of mankind. The first way of expressing formally time process is characterized by a chronological sequence forms when one form from another grows and generates a third – this is actually an evolution. The second way that, in distinguishing between quantitative and qualitative changes, characterized by the implementation of the latter, he calls revolution.

Researcher gives a very succinct definition of these two concepts: “Evolution – a change within the system. The revolution – a radical transformation of the system, replacing one principle or reasons other organizations pass” that concerns interpretation of the concept of “progress”, according L. White, “progress” can have two slightly different but nevertheless interrelated values. To justify his views he refers to many evolutionists previous era, explaining their position on a number of issues. In this case, refers to the ideas of Herbert Spencer, who is not identified with the progress and evolution believed that progress is inevitable, but recognized and regression. This point of view, as indicated by L. White, adhere E. Taylor, LR Morgan, even Charles Darwin. Progress can mean nothing more than the development process, but can also mean and to promote “better”, “higher” or “lower” class.

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