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Homo est animal Homificans.


       —Ramon Lull (1308), from which, by Lull’s own method of combinatorial permutation, we sow a semantic field—from which, as per Quine (1960), no singular selection proves decisive:


1. Man is the Man­-ify-ing animal

2. The Human is the Human­-ifying life-form

3. A human is a humanizing living being

4. The Human is Humanized Anima(­-ted crea(-ture/-tion))

5. Homo is the Homogenized Genus (kind)

6. Homo is the homogenizing species (appearance)

7. Anthropos is the anthropomorphizing animal

8. Anthropos Animates Anthropically

9. Humanity is its own self­-similarity.







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1.4  Tree of Life, Tree of Culture, and other Generic analogies


“The course of organic evolution can be portrayed properly as a tree of life [... as] its occasional convergences are superficial resemblances, not a joining or a reabsorption. [...] The tree of culture, on the contrary, is a ramification of such coalescences, assimilations, or acculturations. This schematic diagram visualizes this contrast.” 


 Alfred Kroeber’s exceptional illustration from 1948 says it all—or does it? One could make an academic career (if not several) out of mining his comparative litany—at turns poetic and abstruse (like most metaphoric petitions), but anthropology is a science (albeit one confessed to identity crises), so we shall strive (in vain? perhaps) to isolate scientific model from poetic metaphor. Given the inevitable correlation to Eden’s conflicted trees of “Knowledge vs. Life”, we shall set aside Thing­-Names (for, if Culture is contra Life, it allies at once with Death) to heed the modern (if misbegotten) cris de coeur of “Nature versus Nurture”—or better, natural vs. cultural.

© 2008-2012 Ian C Thorne. all rights reserved. about credits privacy contact share