Historical Particularism (Essay/Paper Sample)

Historical Particularism

Historical particularism is a school of thought established by Franz Boas. It explains a different perspective on the nature of life and prospective life in the days to come. This school of thought challenges parallel evolutionism which was the primary theory echoed in anthropology. According to parallel evolutionism, all societies in the world are on the same path and evolved in a similar way. However, this is disputed by historical particularism which suggests that each society has unique past. Boas further explained that a society is a total representation of its past events. These past events have the potential to dictates the future of that society regardless of their similarity to other cultures and society. It is, therefore, important to appreciate every society and treat them differently from any other society.

Many philosophers have tried to untangle the contestable debate about the origin of various societies and possibly their future. The undisputed facts remain about cultural customs which are certainly the main factors that energize the society to move forward. Consequently, historical events are the primary ingredients of historical particularism. Despite the facts that environmental and psychological factors have great potential in influencing and shaping a particular society, the history of a given society is inevitable in revealing the past as well as the historical evolution of the same society. According to the old adage, it is justified that what comes around, goes around. In the evolution of the society, there could be forces that try and stop the series of events but historical particularism proves that the past has got a great role in the events of today and other future events.

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Historical particularism has strong critics that are biased against the factors that could impede the future. These critics believed that it is ideally impossible to predict what could happen in future based on the historical trends of the historical events. However, Boas the founder of the historical particularism argued that cultures have similar traits though for various reasons.  In addition, Boas stated that cultures are independent of any universal evolutionary process. He refutes the claims that such traits can be used for universal stages of cultural evolution. Finally, Boas clarified in the historical particularism that the cultures and societies have the potential to evolve in unique ways with a unique destination regardless the facts that these cultures may be the same in some fashion.

Franz Boas commented that social evaluation is the cornerstone of historical particularism. He was convicted that cultures do not merely present itself naturally. He noted that culture dwells on the past events. Interestingly, Boas stated that every culture has got a clear destination decided by the past historical events. Despite the facts that some cultures and societies are known to get along for many years, based on historical particularism, that script of history will ultimately play a factor in those cultures getting along in the years to come. Another great anthropologist and a student of Boas is A.L. Kroeber who overwhelmingly supported historical particularism.

In conclusion, historical particularism supports the idea that it is history that makes cultures and the societies to become what they are today. It is the history that brings cultures together and not civilization. Boas clarified that despite all cultures could be on the same level at the same stage, their final outcomes and destinations are far much different. History has great potential to set the stage for any pre destinations as well as the outcome. This school of thought disputed the claims that all societies are on the same path. Neither do the cultures and the societies evolve the same way despite the close similarities.

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