2.3 What is the text ‘Anthropathology’ saying and doing?
In the next activity you will explore what the first text says and does.
Read Text 4 twice. Use any reading strategies you think are appropriate. In the box below, record any unknown words which you think are important for the meaning of parts of the text or the whole text. Try to understand their meaning from the context or use a dictionary if this doesn’t work. Don’t forget to note down important words.
- Anthropathology is the sickness of humankind and the exploration and study of that condition. It is something like universal neurosis or original sin, or simply ‘the human condition’. It is evidenced in greed, deception, violence, patriarchal domination, and other aspects of our existence. Anthropathology can be witnessed at both individual and collective levels, for example in everyday personal problems and mental health problems; and in racism, international conflict and war. Anthropathology is the dysfunctional aspect of humanity’s undoubted resourcefulness and impressive technological achievements.
- For those who consider this to be an appropriate area of study, the question naturally arises as to the origins of this phenomenon. One possibility might be entropy. According to Rifkin (1985), all things, including ourselves, our institutions and the solar system itself are subject to degeneration. Another view held by Taylor (2005) is that there are specific reasons for the degeneration of human nature to be found in history. Taylor (2005) suggests that around 6000 years ago peaceful hunter gatherers were forced to evolve due to harsh living conditions. This led to human beings being alienated from nature and from their true selves.
- Anthropathology might be regarded as inevitably pessimistic or as drawing attention to the worst facing us (and within us). The Anthropathology thesis has undeniably unpopular elements. Anthropathology challenges religious tradition but also challenges belief in individual rational autonomy – the ability of human beings to be in control of their own destiny. Many may want to play up the positive aspects of human beings and deny that we are so destructive, or wish to underline the idea that only some individuals, groups or eras are evil.
- However, Anthropathology as a potential academic discipline (or interdisciplinary arena) raises urgent questions about climate change, religious and political conflict, resource depletion and over-population. Our collective unwillingness as human beings to address these challenges may prove our final downfall. But Anthropathology also challenges many assumptions about individual problems, for example, the view of mental health problems as caused primarily within families or by our own irrational thinking. Instead, a complex interplay of genetic forces are seen as powerful causes and reinforcers of individual problems.
Identify the central idea and other key ideas in each paragraph of Text 4. Make notes (as a mind map or in linear form).
The notes you made might contain some or all of the following elements.
Anthropathology: Study of sickness of human beings
Examples: greed, deception, violence, patriarchal domination
- (a) Individual level: personal problems, mental health issues
- (b) Collective level: war, racism
- (a) Entropy
- (b) ‘The Fall’: evolution from hunter-gatherers (6000 years ago) – divorce from true nature
Anthropathology – pessimistic view – challenges:
- religious beliefs
- belief in individual autonomy
- belief in positive aspects of human beings
Anthropathology – important academic discipline – addresses:
- Global issues – failure to address could lead to downfall of human race
- Individual issues – genetic causes
The list below shows the organisation of ideas in Text 4 but in the wrong order. Use drag and drop to match the function of each paragraph with the paragraph number in the table.
Think about what each paragraph is doing.
Using the following two lists, match each numbered item with the correct letter.
Explains the existence of anthropathology
Presents opposing views
Argues for the importance of anthropathology
- 1 = d
- 2 = a
- 3 = c
- 4 = b
Now think about the following questions and write down some ideas.
- (a) Do the ideas in the paragraphs of Text 4 link together logically? Does the text present a solid, well-supported argument?
- (b) Does the text provide convincing examples or references to other writers to support the claims it makes?
- (c) Does the text contain any sweeping generalisations?
- (a) The argument is organised logically, moving from definitions to explanations and then to arguments against and for anthropathology. This is a common pattern in argument texts.
- (b) The text provides factual support for the claims it makes and refers to writers. However, it does not provide evidence for the statement Many may want to play up the positive aspects of human beings and deny that we are so destructive, or wish to underline the idea that only some individuals, groups or eras are evil. This needed supporting through examples and references.
- (c) Our collective unwillingness as human beings to address these challenges is rather a sweeping generalisation and could be disputed.
Did you enjoy reading this text? Did you find the subject interesting? If yes, why? If no, why not?
Your answers to these questions will depend on your views. Maybe you agree that human beings are sick by nature or maybe you see this as a negative view and would rather read something more positive.
We hope that the work you have done in this section helped you to use appropriate reading skills and strategies to read and understand the text. You are now going to read another text on a similar subject.