A Critique of Man's Control over Civilization: an Anthropocentric Illusion

Topics: Culture, Sociocultural evolution, Anthropology Pages: 4 (1669 words) Published: December 10, 2005
A Critique of Man's Control Over Civilization: An Anthropocentric Illusion By Leslie A. White.

Within the first few sentences of the article Leslie White provides us with a clear thesis: Man believes that he is in control of his civilization by creations such as "tools and machines…At least he so fondly believes." The purpose of Leslie's article is to prove that man only believes that he has control over civilization and the process which are contained herein.

Leslie starts the article with quotes from what seems to be very well educated men (which is a paradox to a statement made latter within the article), at least for their time. The actual argument starts at the end of page with Leslie talking about looking for examples of man's control over culture. The article then talks about societies attempts to control small "insignificant segments" of our culture like our spelling, the calendar and the system of measurements. He states that we can not even manage to change the way words are spelled or pronounced, so how do we believe that we control culture. He then moves on to talk about fashion and how men and women are completely helpless when it comes to having any say in what or how they dress. To prove his point he uses the example of women's skirt lengths. Leslie says that a study done by Professor A.L. Kroeber shows that women really have nothing to do with the clothing that they wear. The study says that regardless of women's opinions about every 50 years the length of women's skirts lengthens or shortens, "as the case may be." He states that women are completely helpless and can do nothing but fallow the trend.

The article then moves on to talk about how ever body has the knowledge to comment on public affairs. Even though most people leave things as simple as baking pies or making homemade beer to those with the knowledge of such things we all still feel that were are intelligible enough to comment on the happenings of "national proportion."...
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