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Early life and education[ edit ] Boas' dissertation: Although his grandparents were observant Jewshis parents embraced Enlightenment values, including their assimilation into modern German society. Boas's parents were educated, well-to-do, and liberal; they did not like dogma of any kind.
Due to this, Boas was granted the independence to think for himself and pursue his own interests. Early in life, he displayed a penchant for both nature and natural sciences. Boas vocally opposed anti-Semitism and refused to convert to Christianitybut he did not identify himself as a Jew.
The background of my early thinking was a German home in which the ideals of the revolution of were a living force. My father, liberal, but not active in public affairs; my mother, idealistic, with a lively interest in public matters; the founder about of the kindergarten in my hometown, devoted to science.
My parents had broken through the shackles of dogma. My father had retained an emotional affection for the ceremonial of his parental home, without allowing it to influence his intellectual freedom.
When he started his university studies, Boas first attended Heidelberg University for a semester followed by four terms at Bonn Universitystudying physics, geography, and mathematics at these schools. These factors led Boas to consider pursuing research in psychophysicswhich explores the relationship between the psychological and the physical, after completing his doctorate, but he had no training in psychology.
At the time, German geographers were divided over the causes of cultural variation. Inencouraged by Theobald Fischer, Boas went to Baffin Island to conduct geographic research on the impact of the physical environment on native Inuit migrations. The first of many ethnographic field trips, Boas culled his notes to write his first monograph titled The Central Eskimo, which was published in in the 6th Annual Report from the Bureau of American Ethnology.
Boas lived and worked closely with the Inuit peoples on Baffin Island, and he developed an abiding interest in the way people lived. The following day, Boas penciled in his diary, : We have no right to blame them for their forms and superstitions which may seem ridiculous to us.
We 'highly educated people' are much worse, relatively speaking It was a difficult year filled with tremendous hardships that included frequent bouts of disease, mistrust, pestilence, and danger. Boas successfully searched for areas not yet surveyed and found unique ethnographic objects, but the long winter and the lonely treks across perilous terrain forced him to search his soul to find a direction for his life as a scientist and a citizen.
He returned to Berlin to complete his studies. InBoas defended with Helmholtz's support his habilitation thesis, Baffin Land, and was named privatdozent in geography. While on Baffin Island he began to develop his interest in studying non-Western cultures resulting in his book, The Central Eskimo, published in Boas had studied anatomy with Virchow two years earlier while preparing for the Baffin Island expedition.An essay has been defined in a variety of ways.
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