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Social and political in the 19th century - Essay Example

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Karl Marx, Charles Darwin and Changing Gender Relations Instructor name Date Near the turn of the 20th century, social scientists became heavily influenced by scientific discoveries and new realizations regarding the behavior of human societies…
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Social and political in the 19th century
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Download file to see previous pages As a result of his care, though, his discoveries were well-founded and difficult to disprove especially as others were also making similar discoveries at the time. Another great thinker that had a significant impact on cultural attitudes and beliefs was Karl Marx. Marx focused his attention on the ways in which different societies worked, paying particular attention to how conflict between the classes helped to shape the way the society was organized. His predictions and writings were so influential that they have helped to found entire governmental systems. The new ideas these two men introduced to the world had an impact not only on how we understand the world around us, but also how we understand one another including changing common concepts of gender relations. It was the mid-1800’s when Charles Darwin took his famous trip to the Galapagos and witnessed tangible evidence for his theory regarding the origin of all species. The 13 islands of the Galapagos chain are relatively close to each other geographically but are vastly different environmentally. Some of the islands offer desert-like conditions, others more tropical, some sandy, some rocky. Attempting to catalog the various species he found, Darwin realized many of them had originated as one species, but had evolved adaptations needed for survival according to the different conditions on the different islands. He hypothesized adaptations to new environments would take place over long periods of time, millions of years, through the process of natural selection. Natural selection works when an animal is born with a specialized new trait that helps it survive in its environment. This animal thrives and produces offspring that carry the same inherited trait so they live longer and have more babies. Eventually the new type ‘wins out’ over the old and a new species is started. It didn't take long for these concepts to be applied to human development. Darwinian anthropology suggests that behavior is shaped by the needs and expectations of the social environment and is also based on best fitness to survive. Therefore, “the way to look for adaptations is not to try to find ancient mental mechanisms but to look at current behavior in relation to local environmental conditions” (Cartwright). Instead of inborn traits and physical attributes, Darwinian anthropology suggests people strive to adapt their behavior based upon new learning and new skills to cope with their social environment. This is proven to some extent in the case of immigrants. Although first generation immigrants usually struggle to incorporate into their new society, successive generations develop the adaptive tools necessary to survive with greater success within the same environment. Under the umbrella of Darwinian anthropology, “culture should be viewed a part of a fitness maximization program. Humans are flexible opportunists and so optimality models can be used” to predict behavior (Cartwright). These types of realizations led to a new consideration regarding the supposed helplessness and presumed handicaps of women during this age. People began questioning whether the problems were culturally rather than biologically ingrained. This line of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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