By Daniel Garrison Brinton
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Finally, at the core of the subject and implied in the reach for otherness, lies the choice of alternative basic assumptions about man and the nature of society. What is man? Whence his coming, becoming, and going? Breaking these questions into their components, and then trying to find answers by searching the features of Aboriginal life, is why anthropologists study Australian Aborigines. The answers may be elusive. But without that reach into otherness the questions could not have been asked.
101), there is a continuous search for an overall and coherent framework of ideas which might, for example, as well contain and deal with economic affairs as it might describe and analyze kinship systems, religion or social organization. In a sense it is a search for the coherence of medieval thought or, indeed, for the kind of coherence to be found in the cultures of the small or nonliterate communities which anthropologists generally study. European civilization has always been composed of scores of subcultures, each engaging with others within the terms of a dialectic framed by rational objectivity on the one hand and the participatory values on the other.
Many made wild guesses as to how things had come to be as they were. Mostly, however, because they could do no more with the evidence available, they made synchronic studies. For that crowning diachronic explicans they were forced either to infer or invent a plausible quasi-history, or use models derived from the transformational processes observable in plants, animals, and individual human beings. But the publication in 1859 of Darwin's Origin of Species marked a change for which neither Darwin nor his book were wholly responsible.