The term “superorganic” was probably first used by the early sociologist Herbert of the time, Alfred Kroeber and Edward Sapir, in the American Anthropologist. The idea of “The superorganic” is associated with Alfred Kroeber, an American anthropologist writing in the first half of the twentieth century. Why the Superorganic Concept Serves the Human Sciences Badly. Peter J. Richerson University of California – Los Angeles. Los Angeles . Dobzhansky’s usage was probably inspired Kroeber and kindred influential social. scientists of his.

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It operates at a higher level of complexity than the organic. The links are symbolic, not genetic as in biological systems. The arrangement makes them alive.

Culture as the superorganic

Human beings are animals, and as such are organic systems. Culture and society comprise the third level.

If you analyse all those parts, in themselves, or even as a collection, they are not living. A living entity transcends its inorganic parts. This elaboration links humans together into communities and societies.


Similarly, the dog, if seen as a biological system, operates at a higher complexity than the inorganic elements which comprise it.

Key Words Supetorganico Sociology: They have developed communications between themselves to an elaborate degree, much more sophisticated than other animals.

The second level of complexity is composed of living things. It may have a life of its own, but its life more resembles an amoeba than a human.

Those are carried by individuals.


The superorganic is another way of describing —— and understanding —— culture or the socio-cultural system. We can call this the lowest level of complexity. Do not think of a dog as a carbon atom or a hydrocarbon molecule.


Do not anthropomorphise culture. Looking at the relationship between krodber things and their inorganic components in this way helps us to understand the relationship between culture and persons. All living things, plants and animals, are built up of inorganic elements, mainly hydrogen, oxygen and carbon, plus some trace elements.

Similarly, do not think of a community, an institution, a society as a human being. Humans have thoughts and behaviour. If you separate the dog superorgabico tree into its separate elements, it dies. They behave, however, in concert with each other, as a system external to individuals —— society.


There is a parallel, therefore, in the relations between the inorganic and the organic, as between the organic and the superorganic. Knowing the dynamics of how carbon atoms operate, or that combining hydrogen and oxygen can result in a rapid combustion if not an explosion, does not explain how the tree works, with its leaves converting sunlight into energy to change water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and carbon, channels to transfer sap from leaves to root, and so on.

If we start with the inorganic, it is the physical universe, all the atoms of elements without life. The socio-cultural level, culture or society, therefore is carried by humans and transcends humans. If you copy text from this site, please acknowledge the author s and link it back to cec.