Now while some of the interest of anthropology in its early stages was in the exotic and out of the way, yet even this antiquarian motivation ultimately contributed to a broader result. Anthropologists became aware of the diversity of culture.
They began to see the tremendous range of its variations. From that, the commenced to envisage it as a totality, as no historian of one period or of one period or of a single people was ever likely to do, nor any analyst of his own type of civilization alone.
They became aware of culture as a “universe,” or vast field, in which we of today and our own civilization occupy only one place of many.
The result was a widening of a fundamental point of view, a departure from unconscious ethnocentricity toward relativity. This shift from naiive self-centeredness in one’s own time and spot to a broader view based on objective comparison is somewhat like the change from the geocentric to the Copernican interpretation of the solar systems and the subsequent still greater widening to a universe of galaxies.
Alfred Kroeber (1923-What Anthropology is About)
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