Monday, June 29, 2009

Anthropology Essay

If you were to ask someone what Anthropology is, the first thing they might mention is Indiana Jones, digging up bones and artifacts, and at the same time, running away from big boulders in a dark cave. Although these facts are somewhat true, that is not all what Anthropology is about. Anthropology is the study of the human species, in the past, and the present (Park 2002). Through Anthropology, we are able to learn about our pasts and ancestors. Anthropology is basically, “digging up people’s garbage,” (Griffin 2002). But it’s garbage that helps us to further expand our knowledge about the past. One day, thousands, and maybe even millions of years from now there will be people digging up our garbage and learning about us. Anthropology has many different subfields (Griffin 2002).

The main topic that we are going to discuss is Biological Anthropology, also known as Physical Anthropology, which focuses on the study of the human species. The theory of evolution is an important factor that helps scientists, and ourselves, understand what Anthropology is all about. Charles Darwin was the first man to strongly believe in the theory of evolution, which by definition means, a species of living things change over time, and under the right circumstances, this change can produce new species of living organisms (Park 2002). Although he proved that evolution exists, there are still people out there who believe that man was created by God, and that we didn’t evolve from other animals. So to this day, evolution vs. religion becomes a very controversial topic. To better understand the human species, scientists closely study and examine primates because we share derived characteristics which means that two groups share phenotypic features not found in other groups and if it can be supported that those features were derived from a common ancestor, the groups must be lumped from the same category at whatever taxonomic level is appropriate (Park 2002). Each new discovery that Anthropologists make whether it be from bones and artifacts, or from primates, helps us as human beings understand why we are the way we are.

There are four subfields of Anthropology. Cultural Anthropology deals with the way we are raised. It is not in our genes, but rather the society and the area that we live in (Park 2002). If you observe different parts of the country, everyone’s culture is different. For example, Amish people are taught and raised the old fashioned way. They don’t use electricity, they grow their own food, and wear certain types of clothing. They choose not to be exposed to the modern day world, therefore they live how people lived before technology came about. That is part of their culture, and what they’re all about. Even people that live in the same country but in different parts have a very different culture.

New York and California are in the same country, but the people in each state have a different culture all their own. The next field is archaeology which is almost like biological anthropology. Archaeology is the study of the human cultural past and the reconstruction of past cultural systems. It also involves the techniques used to recover, preserve, and interpret the material means of the past (Park 2002). Archaeology is more focused on artifacts created by our ancestors and the way they lived. The last subfield in Anthropology is Linguistic Anthropology. Linguistic Anthropology focuses on languages in the past and their change over time. Other culture’s languages and ways of communication are also studied.

In order to understand what Anthropology is all about we must understand the theory of evolution. Evolution simply means, “change over time,” (Griffin 2002). About two million years ago humanity began to show its evolution in the order of the universe. Humans originally belonged to the order of mammals, the primates, which existed before the dinosaurs became extinct. This development of descending from tree habitats to forest floors and eventually to more open country was associated with the development of many unique features of the human species. However, humans did not evolve from a primate ancestor, humans as well as apes both evolved from the same primate species, but each branched out in different directions tap become different species (McKenna 1998). Darwin was the first man to ever really prove the theory of evolution. He was able to gather enough information and evidence that evolution does exist. Darwin’s findings marked a revolution of thought and social upheaval that not only challenged the scientific community, but the religious ones as well (Walker 2002). Some people do not believe in evolution, due to their religion. Christians believe that man began with Adam and Eve, and that we descended from them. Today there are still arguments if evolution is a fact or theory. By definition, “theory” means a statement of what are held to be the general laws, principles, or causes of something known or observed, as the Oxford English dictionary defines it. Evolution began as a hypothesis and achieved “facthood” as the evidence became so strong that not even the smartest and most knowledgeable person could deny its reality. This theory continues to challenge religious beliefs.

Primatalogy is the study of primates and apes to help us better understand human behavior (Johnson 1997). Of all the animals, primates and apes are closely similar to humans. A primate’s intelligence is closely related to our own. Humans and apes have the same behavioral patterns such as grooming, and interacting in groups. Some of our facial features are also somewhat alike. To better understand the human species, we need to study and understand other forms of life, to see how we are different, and how we are alike. It’s hard to study ourselves, because humans tend to not want to be objective about our own type, so Primatology plays an important role in Anthropology (Park 2002).

Anthropolgy is a crucial subject to be studied. The more educated we are about our past, the wiser our decisions will be for the future. Learning about our ancestors, and the way we live plays an important role for our lives today. Without the study of Anthropology and its different subfields, we would know nothing at all about ourselves.

In the future, the way we live, and everything that we are now will be studied. Some of the most prominent evolutionary theories of all time can be found in Charles Darwin’s “Origin of Species.” His conclusions linked humans’ bone structure to primates, apes, and gorillas. They are closely linked to the evolved human of the time. Within 500,000 years time, he claimed, that we had evolved from Australopithecus Ramidus to the present Homo Sapiens that we are categorized as. He sums the entire evolutionary theory in his book, “We must...acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man with all his noble qualities, sympathy, benevolence, and god-like intellect which has penetrated into the movements and constitution of the solar system itself-with all these exalted powers-Man still bears in his bodily frame the incredible stamp of his lowly origin (Darwin). In my opinion, evolution is both a theory and a fact. Facts and theories are different things. Facts are the world’s data theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts don’t go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Darwin continually emphasized the difference between his two great and separate accomplishments: establishing the fact of evolution, and proposing a theory-natural selection-to explain the mechanism of evolution.

Those who do not believe in evolution should consider the fact that maybe God made it possible for living things to evolve. Religious beliefs and evolution come help make what we are today. Due to an abundant amount of evidence, it is hard to dismiss the theory of evolution. Between digging up the past, and studying primates to better understand ourselves, Anthropology becomes an important science.

Sure, doctors and surgeons can cure the diseases of the world, but without extensive knowledge of the human race, then we might as well be blind when we are trying to cure the sick. Our past becomes the key to our future, it’ll prevent us from making mistakes that our ancestors may have made, and it aids us in understanding the very complex human species.

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Euthanasia Research Paper

Euthanasia is one of society's most widely and fiercely debated moral issues. No one is able to determine the significance of one’s life and the quality a person should live. Euthanasia is categorized into two separate definitions; active and passive euthanasia. Euthanasia gives the terminally ill the ability to orchestrate their death. Euthanasia lifts a burden from the sufferer as well as their caretakers. Euthanasia gives the terminally ill the final dignifying say which allows them to practice the ultimate freedom; the right to die.

Euthanasia is split into two different categories; active and passive euthanasia. Active euthanasia, which by definition, is; "Doing something, such as administering a lethal drug, or using other means that cause a person's death” (MacKinnon, 126) is more detestable than passive euthanasia, which is defined as; "Stopping (or not starting) some treatment, which allows a person to die, the person's condition causes his or her death," (MacKinnon, 126). Active euthanasia is typically the more highly debated of the two acts of euthanasia and is better known because of the actions of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, who has aided in many successful suicides. Passive euthanasia, on the other hand, is rarely debated and usually never enters controversial dialogue because it is typically looked at as letting someone die naturally. In passive euthanasia one simply refuses treatment with the knowledge that death is imminent. This offers little debate for several reasons, primarily because it is seen as a natural way of dying. There are exceptions, for example, some religions refuse to accept life preserving treatments with the knowledge that without the treatment they will die. For example in the faith of the Jehovah's Witness, a child, who has been in a serious car accident and is in need of blood, will die rather that accept treatment (Humphry, 104). Although this kind of passive euthanasia would endure much scrutiny, it would be accepted because it is tied to religious convictions. In either case, active or passive, the victim will die due to the aid of a physician or another able bodied individual. There is essentially no difference between the two types of euthanasia; both aid the terminally ill in taking their own life. From herein, both active and passive euthanasia will be referred to as euthanasia. Essentially euthanasia aids people in ending their lives, and gives those who are terminally ill, the last and perhaps only decisive measure during their illness.

Supporters of the practice of euthanasia argue that helping the terminally ill to bring about their own deaths and allowing them to determine the how and when they die, defends their basic human right to decide whether they should live in suffering, or die in peace. Euthanasia is not only humane, but also allows the person the ability to maintain their dignity by planning their own end, thus letting them die with dignity and at peace. Freedom to choose how one lives their life is not taken away due to a terminal illness, thus this freedom should be carried out regardless of whether the issue is death or our freedom of speech. Supporters of euthanasia state that, "[They] believe that everyone has the right to choose how they live and die" (The Voluntary Euthanasia Society [TVES]). Euthanasia allows the person, who is principally awaiting their death, to maintain a fraction of their dignity by coordinating their own death. Thus letting the person die in peace, rather than suffering through their illness until their eventual demise. The Voluntary Euthanasia Society states that, "Each person has value and is worthy of respect, has basic rights and freedoms and the power to control his or her destiny. [The proponents] campaign to legalize assisted dying within certain strictly defined circumstances is fundamentally about choice" (TVES). The choice being discussed is their right to a person’s freedom to choose whether or not to live in pain and suffering or die in peace.

The worth of a humans life does not change because they are terminally ill, but the manner in which one lives there life changes significantly. In some cases, victims of terminal diseases suffer great humiliation due to loss of control over their muscles and other parts of their body, making them completely dependant upon someone else. These hardships are often times degrading to the sufferer and costly to both the victim and their loved ones, which puts strain not only on the person affected by the disease but also those who are taking care of them.

In many cases, euthanasia is the victims’ way to pay back their debt to their family, and their last effort at dignity. Suffering from a terminal illness is costly and time consuming for those who take care of the victim. Victims in the advanced stages of some terminal illness will have limited muscle control and experience excruciating and unrelenting pain. Rather than suffer through an illness, one should have the right to end the pain and plan their death. As the Euthanasia Society states, "Not everyone dies well. At least 5% of terminal pain cannot be fully controlled, even with the best care. Other distressing symptoms such as sickness, incontinence or breathlessness cannot always be relieved" (Dr. Jack Kevorkian). Not only does the sufferer endure the hardships of their disease, but often times their loved ones also bear the brunt of the monetary costs related to their illness.

The costs of at-home treatments as well as hospital, medicine and treatment costs are an extreme burden upon the victim’s family. In the victims eyes, their death signifies eliminating their own, as well as their next of Kin’s, perception of them dying to be a burden, physically and financially, and then can focus on the positive aspect of their death; the end to their suffering. Derek Humphry states that “patients with a high wish to hasten death have greater concerns with physical symptoms and psychological suffering, perceive themselves to be more of a burden to others” (Humphry, 127.) Patients suffering from illness simply want to lessen the weight and dependence upon their loved ones, and exercise their freedom to decide when and how they want to die.

No one is capable of determining the worth of someone’s life; however those who suffer terminal illnesses should have the freedom of determining whether the pain they are forced to endure is worth continuing their lives. Euthanasia is categorized into separate definitions, both of which are scrutinized and both allowing the freedom of choice. Through euthanasia, the choice of how and when the victim of a terminal illness should die lies in the hands of the person themselves. The victim views their final demise as a way for them to repay those who took care of them or the final lift of burden from their loved ones. Euthanasia allows the practice of basic human rights and gives the terminally ill the right to die.

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Symbolism Essay

Lord of the Flies is a complex novel which can be seen as an allegory: a piece of writing in which the apparent meaning of the characters and events is used to symbolize a deeper meaning- moral, spiritual, political or social. Golding uses symbolism throughout his novel to emphasize the fact that mankind possesses two different personalities, one civilized and the other savage. Golding uses these objects and characters to form the theme of his novel and to convey different aspects of society to his readers.

In the beginning of the novel, the conch shell found by Ralph and Piggy represented order, civilization, and free speech. Piggy instructed Ralph to blow the conch shell “We can use this to call the others” (Golding 16). After calling the others, they all meet and decide to vote for a chief. “Let’s have a vote” (22). It is here that the conch symbolizes order and democracy. The
boys saw Ralph as a figure of authority and leadership based solely on the conch shell. “Let him
be chief with the trumpet thing” (24). Ralph used the conch as a means of communicating with the others. If someone had something to say, he would hand the conch to them. “ ‘I’ll give the conch to the next person to speak.’ ‘He can hold it when he’s speaking.’ ‘And he won’t be interrupted’ ”(36).

Piggy and his glasses also symbolized civilization and technology. He was Ralph’s adviser, was always thinking logically, and helped Ralph make smart decisions. It was Piggy who found the conch and suggested to Ralph to blow it to call the others. His glasses, used as a magnifying glass, played an important role in starting the signal fire. This fire was to be kept burning in hopes that ships would see it and rescue them. It was the fire of hope. When the fire went out, the importance of his glasses was expressed by Ralph who shouted “if the fire is out, we’ll need them” (73).

The signal fire was another form of symbolism. It was the fire which would hopefully aid in the rescue of the boys and take them back to their homes. It was the responsibility of Jack’s hunters to keep the fire going, but they became less and less interested. They placed more emphasis on hunting. They began to disobey Ralph’s orders. The importance of the fire was expressed by Ralph in saying “You let the fire go out” (69). Jack’s response was “we had to have them in the hunt” (76). This was the first time in which Ralph’s leadership was tested and the beginning of his decline. He was losing his influence among the others.

Jack, who becomes the main adversary of Ralph, was a symbol of dictatorship and savagery. He was arrogant and self-righteous. He became offended by not being elected as chief and continually challenged Ralph. “I ought to be chief...because I’m chapter chorister and head boy” (22). The relationship of Ralph and Jack deteriorated throughout the book, representing the deterioration of a democratic society into a savage one. It was when Jack separated from the others that his followers began to paint their faces and become savages. Golding states, “This was a savage whose image refused to blend with that ancient picture of a boy in shorts and shirt”(192). These painted faces helped them justify their actions. This is best illustrated with the murder of Simon.

Golding names the pig’s head that Jack puts on a stick as a sacrifice for the beast, “Lord of the Flies” (138). This becomes a symbol of savagery and the driving force of Jack’s tribe. As the novel progresses, the sequence of killing tracks the children from being innocent to that of being savage. Simon dies in a violent act committed by a group of Jack’s tribe (152-153) and Piggy is killed by Roger deliberately (180-181).

Throughout his novel, Lord of the Flies, Golding utilized objects and characters to illustrate his main theme that without rules and laws, any society will degenerate into a savage one. He stresses the importance of the characters and how they respond to the different situations in the novel. It shows the struggle between civilization and the urge to become primitive. In the beginning, Ralph, the conch, Piggy’s glasses, and the signal fire were all signs of democracy. As Jack became more powerful, the conch was eventually smashed and the signal fire went out. The objects such as the pig’s head, painted faces, and finally the destructive fire all representing savagery and anarchy became increasingly more important. At the end of the novel, Golding sums up his feelings toward people. He believes that evil is in each of us and that society with its rules and laws holds everyone together, preventing evil from being exposed.

Also paramount to Golding’s symbolism is the two basic conceptions of power which slowly emerged on the island. Simon, Ralph, and Piggy believed that power should be used for the good of all on the island. A democratic group, each having the same rights as the other. Roger and Jack believed that those who hold it should use it to gratify their own desires and act on impulses. A group associated with savagery.

Through symbolism, Golding did an excellent job in expressing his views about man and society. At first, the book was an adventure, but through the use of symbolism , it became more of a in-depth writing on how people react when being removed from their environment.

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