The Order of Progress



The Order of Progress
The Rise and Fall of the Idea of Progress in ‘Early’ Anthropology

By Bernd Weiler

October 2018, hardback, 652 pp.
ISBN: 978-1-905622-47-4
European Studies in Social Theory

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The late Bernd Weiler’s masterwork is an insightful study into what lies behind the intellectual belief in progress that characterised much of the 19th century. His fascinating reconstruction of the genesis of modern anthropology and its ideology of progressive human evolution, which was evident from around 1850, is portrayed and analysed with the tools of the disciplines of the history and sociology of knowledge. Weiler explores how both North American cultural anthropology and the Viennese School of Ethnology broke with the idea of the “cultural poverty of the savage” at the beginning of the 20th century and opened a new chapter in the history of knowledge. Weiler’s study will come to be seen as required reading for all those who endeavour to understand the development of the cultural and social sciences.

About the Author:

Bernd Weiler, Ph.D., (1971–2006), studied at the universities of Graz, Austria, and Saskatchewan, Canada. He was a fellow at the Karl Mannheim Chair for Cultural Studies at Zeppelin University, Friedrichshafen, Germany. His research focused on the history of ideas, the history and theory of sociology, the sociology of immigration, economic sociology, the sociology of knowledge and on cultural anthropology.

A prolific writer, Weiler’s publications include Die Ordnung des Fortschritts. Zum Aufstieg und Fall der Fortschrittsidee in der ‘jungen’ Anthropologie (Transcript Verlag 2006), The Moralization of the Markets, ed. with N. Stehr and C. Henning (Transaction Press 2006) and Who Owns Knowledge? Knowledge and the Law, ed. with N. Stehr (Transaction Press 2008). Shortly before his death on March 31, 2006, he contributed a dozen articles on ethnology, anthropology and sociology to The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology (Oxford 2007).

Contents:

Preface and Acknowledgements
Introduction

Book I: Reflections on the “Spirit” of the Sciences in Germany in the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century
I.1: The “Retreat Battle” of Natural Philosophy
I.2: The “Exact” Natural Sciences and their Enemy Image of Speculative Romanticist Naturphilosophie
I.3: The “Vulgar Materialists”, Spearhead of the Scientific Zeitgeist
I.4: “Rigorous” Methods and “Disciplined” Reasoning
I.5: So How Do You Feel About Synthesis? The “Exact” Sciences at a Crossroads
I.6: The Value of Scientific Knowledge
I.7: The Backwardness of History and Related Disciplines, or: How the Natural Scientists Chivied the Moral and Social Sciences

Book II: A “Young Science”: The Birth of Anthropology from the “Spirit” of the Exact Sciences
Introductory Remarks
II.A.1: Universal History Found Lacking, or: Anthropologia Magistra Vitae
II.A.2: The Rescue Operation of Anthropology: A Call for Empirical Action
II.A.3: What “Young” May Mean as a Defining Feature of Anthropology: The Profane Way to a Sacred Goal Book II.B: Sources and Analyses: The “Wild” Founding Years of the “Young” Science of Anthropology, From 1854 To 1871
The Year 1854
The Year 1855
The Year 1856
The Year 1857
The Year 1858
The Year 1859
The Year 1860
The Years Between 1861 and 1869: A Brief Outline from the Perspective of the History of Science
The Year 1870
The Year 1871
Postscript: The Year 1872, or: Around the World in 79 days
II.C: Summarizing: Reflections on the Idea of Progress and its Proponents in “Young” Anthropology
II.C.1: The Janus-faced Idea of Evolution, or the “Play” of Nearness and Remoteness
II.C.2: Cultural Evolutionism in the United States of America

Book III: Criticizing the Idea of Progress in “Young” Anthropology: Franz Boas’ Cultural Anthropology and the Vienna School of Ethnology
Introductory Remarks: The Anti-evolutionary Turn
III.A: Cultural Anthropology’s Criticism of the Evolutionary ­Concept of Culture
Prologue: Traveling by Sledge, Eating Raw Seal Liver, And Reading Kant in the Land of the “Eskimos” in 1883; and a Radio Speech in 1941
Introductory Remarks: Franz Boas and Cultural Anthropology in the United States
III.A.1: Cultural Anthropology Between the Poles of Universalism and Relativism
III.A.2: Franz Boas’ “Phobia of Generalization”: Reflections on its Roots, from a Perspective of the History of Ideas
III.A.3: Cultural Anthropology in the Light of Biography and the Sociology of Knowledge
III.A.4: The Uses of Cultural Anthropology for Life Digression: Franz Boas, an Honorary Doctor at Karl-Franzens-­Universität Graz: An Episode in the Life of the German-American Cultural Anthropologist
III.B: The Vienna School’s Criticism of Ethnology: The Image of the “Savage” in General and of the Tierra del Fuego Indian in Particular, or: “From the Beginning it Was Not So!”
Prologue: The Image of the Tierra del Fuego Indian as Homo Totius Mundi-Ferocissimus
Introductory Remarks
III.B.1: The Historical Nature of Ethnology, and a Criticism of the Evolutionary Concept of Culture
III.B.2: Searching for the Beginnings of Humanity: The Case of the “Primeval Family”
III.B.3: The History of Mankind: Meaningless Progress in Lockstep with Fatal Regress
III.B.4: The “last” Tierra del Fuego Indians and the “White Man’s” Cruelty
III.B.5: “Primeval Man” and “Neuer Mensch”: A Sociology-of-Knowledge Perspective on the Vienna Ethnologists’ Criticism of Society in the Interwar Period

Concluding Remark
Bibliography

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