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What Are Human Universals?

In the fields of psychology and anthropology one might encounter the term “Human Universals”, this term refers to certain behaviors or thought processes that are said to be “hard-wired” into the brain as dictated by the human genomes. Human Universals is one of the arguments against cultural relativism, which is one of the main tools ideas to many social sciences of the late 20th century.

This idea of human universals gives psychologists and anthropologists greater reason to research, experiment, and study human expression and behavior. For if the idea of human universals holds true then the research of scientists today may also be used and applied to the humans of the past and future both, making their researches beneficial not only for humanity today but also for the humanity of tomorrow.

One of the notable scientists in the field of human universals is Donald Brown, a professor of anthropology who wrote a book entitled “What are Human Universals?”. In this book, besides laying down the basic premises and ideas of human universals, he also identified the following traits as human universals food sharing, kin gourps, envy, etiquette, pretend play, social structure, fear of death, territoriality, among others.

Another academic in the field of the human universals is Steven Pinker. Much credit for popularizing the ideas of human universals is given to a Steven Pinker, author of a few widely read books on the human mind and a cognitive scientist at Harvard. Pinker’s arguments that since all humans are born with the same number of eyes, ears, and other regular human parts then so too should our minds have similar structures which meaning our thought processes would be the same, thus by this logic basic cultural practices and attitudes would also be the same.

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