Anthropology (from the Greek word ἄνθρωπος, "human" or "person") consists of the study of humanity (see genus Homo). The discipline is a holistic study, concerned with all humans, at all times, in all humanity's dimensions. Anthropology is traditionally distinguished from other disciplines by its emphasis on cultural relativity, in-depth examination of context, and cross-cultural comparisons. Anthropology is methodologically diverse, using both qualitative and quantitative methods, such as firsthand case studies of living cultures, careful excavations of material remains, and interpretations of both living and extinct linguistic practices. In North America and other Western cultures, anthropology is traditionally broken down into four main divisions: physical anthropology, archaeology, cultural anthropology (also known as social anthropology), and linguistic anthropology. Each sub-discipline uses different techniques, taking different approaches to study human beings at all points in time. Through bringing together the results of all these endeavors humans can hope to better understand themselves, and learn to live in harmony, fulfilling their potential as individuals and societies, taking care of each other and the earth that is their home.
[pic]Historical and institutional context
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The anthropologist Eric Wolf once described anthropology as "the most scientific of the humanities, and the most humanistic of the sciences." The anthropologist Eric Wolf once described anthropology as "the most scientific of the humanities, and the most humanistic of the sciences." Anthropology can best be understood as an outgrowth of the Age of Enlightenment, a period when Europeans attempted to study human behavior systematically. The traditions of jurisprudence, history, philology, and sociology then evolved into something more closely resembling the modern views of these disciplines and informed the development of the social sciences, of...