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A Critique of the Western Notions of Progress from an Anthropological Perspective - Essay Example

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The Western idea of “progress” stems from the period known as “The Enlightenment” which was an age of exploration and discovery. We like to think of it as the time in which modern scientific principles were developed. …
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A Critique of the Western Notions of Progress from an Anthropological Perspective
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A Critique of the Western Notions of Progress from an Anthropological Perspective

Download file to see previous pages... Western nations had colonized vast areas of the globe and had begun to exploit their resources in a systematic fashion. Old subsistence level work in agriculture was replaced by labor saving machinery, and mass production of all kinds of consumer goods. Goods became cheaper, and life, for those in the West at least, was made easier. This point of view treated all of the earth’s problems as matters which could be solved by mankind’s ingenuity.
In recent years this notion that humans are moving in a positive direction, improving their lives as they move from caveman status, to hunter gathering, to farming and now to industrialization has been challenged. Jared Diamond (1994) reports these notions are widely assumed to be true but not proven. The theory that agriculture creates food surpluses, which allow people more leisure time, and thus the space to create cultural advances is just a theory, for example, and there are other possible interpretations of human history over the long term. Diamond cites the work of anthropologists with modern hunter-gatherer tribes as evidence that this lifestyle is precisely not inferior to the agricultural lifestyle: “these people (= Kalahari bushmen) … have plenty of leisure time, sleep a good deal, and work less hard than their farming neihbors” (Diamond: 1994, 106) ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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