Configurations of Culture Growth

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* Book: A.L. Kroeber. Configurations of Culture Growth (1945)


Kroeber, a student of Boas, was a major US anthropologist.



"Kroeber was concerned with culture as a universal human characteristic and believed that a complete understanding of culture must contain explanations not only of specific cultures but also of cultural elements and patternings that transcend specific cultures. One of his most ambitious efforts, Configurations of Culture Growth (1945), sought to trace the growth and decline of all of civilized man’s thought and art. The Nature of Culture (1952) collected Kroeber’s essays published on such topics as cultural theory, kinship, social psychology, and psychoanalysis."


2. PsycNet:

"This book embodies the first systematic empirical examination of the temporal course of cultures throughout history. The treatment is deliberately "behavioristically factual rather than explanatory," since the writer believes that full explanation in terms of underlying psychology must necessarily wait upon the facts. The clusterings of recognized genius in time and space form the basis of the value-growth appraisals of culture outlined in the work. However, the orientation of the book is not toward personalities but toward cultural patterns as such. The rises, culminations, and declines of Oriental and Western cultures are detailedly surveyed in the realms of philosophy, science, philology, sculpture, painting, drama, literature, and music. A major conclusion of the work is that there is "no evidence of any true law in the phenomena dealt with; nothing cyclical, regularly repetitive, or necessary." It is pointed out how this viewpoint differs in essential respects from that of Spengler. A profound indication of the present thesis is that civilization to date has inhibited many more geniuses than it has elicited."