“The word anthropology is derived from the Greek words anthropo, meaning “human beings” or “humankind,” and logia, translated as “knowledge of” or “the study of.”1 Likewise, it is a study which comprises four subfields: the physical anthropology, archaeology, linguistic anthropology and cultural anthropology or ethnology, which constitutes a broad approach to the study of humanity.2 Furthermore, “Anthropology is the exploration of human diversity in time and space.”3 Consequently, anthropology is a study or discourse of human being which deals human condition in every particular context and time, both past and present.
It is a study that deals humans as biological species, as beings with culture and language present in a society, and so on.
“Cultural anthropology is the study of human society and culture, the subfield that describes, analyzes, interprets, and explains social and cultural similarities and differences.4 So, it is in this field that human beings are studied in a cultural perspective in order to identify the commonality and difference of one culture to the other.
Likewise, “Cultural anthropology or ethnology is the subfield of anthropology that examines various contemporary societies and cultures throughout the world.”5 Therefore, it does not study human being individually but societally or as a group, in order to come up with a generalization of their way of life.
“Ethnology examines, interprets, analyzes, and compares the results of ethnography—the data gathered in different societies.”6 Likewise, “ethnology is the comparative science that attempts to identify and explain cultural differences and similarities, test hypotheses, and build theory to enhance our understanding of how social and cultural systems work.
7 Thus, ethnology is the science in which the data gathered by the cultural anthropologist from the different societies through observation are put into analysis and examination. In other words, it is a cross-cultural study. By this, cultural anthropologists describe the similarities and differences of one culture from the other and make generalization about society and culture.
What are the two approaches we use in the study of Anthropology? There are two ways of developing testable propositions: the inductive method and the deductive method. In the inductive method, the scientist first makes observations and collects data. On the other hand, deductive method of scientific research begins with a general theory from which scientists develop testable hypotheses. Data are then collected to evaluate these hypotheses.
Studying human beings, Anthropology is very important today for it examines, analyzes, compares and makes generalization about how people live and behave. In fact, it is so vital to study it these days for this field deals not only the present generation of the human kind but also even those of the past, the history and artifacts, with their way of life basically analyzed and is compared to what we have today. Likewise, it is also crucial to discuss this subject matter, especially cultural anthropology, for it gives anybody a kind of self-awareness to cultural diversity. Hence, anthropology will make us aware of cross-cultural understanding in this diverse world and appreciate the uniqueness of one culture to the other. Furthermore, studying so would give us knowledge in order to avoid ethnocentrism or superiority of one culture to the other for no culture is actually higher than the other.
On one hand, anthropology contributes to a general liberal arts education, which helps students develop intellectually and personally, as well as professionally.8 So, it is important as well to study anthropology nowadays for it tries to investigate human condition according to four perspectives, namely, the physical anthropology, archaeology, linguistic anthropology and cultural anthropology, which is needed in every career that one may take. Well, for us, seminarians, I think it is an imperative to have knowledge about this course for it enables us to develop our understanding, especially when it comes to cross-cultural one, as future missionaries to foreign lands someday.