HAR is pleased to announce the latest release from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: an article (in French) on the German anthropologist and philosopher Theodor Waitz.
Espagne, Michel, 2021. “Une anthropologie sans races” : vie et œuvre de Theodor Waitz” [Transl.: “An Anthropology Without Races: Life and Work of Theodor Waitz”], in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.
This article gives a theoretical overview of Theodor Waitz (1821-1864), a German philosopher who became a key figure in the anthropological and ethnological sciences in the nineteenth century. Initially interested in individual psychology as an integral part of the natural sciences, he eventually placed the social context in its ethnic diversity at the centre of his attention. His major work, Anthropologie der Naturvölker, consisting of six volumes published between 1859 and 1864, systematised a vast ethnographic and philological literature and proposed a psychology of peoples that was more empirical than speculative. In this challenging article, Espagne reveals that Waitz was attentive to the symbolic perception of reality in different human societies; that he did not ignore physiological data, but radically questioned the notion of race. At the crossroads of several disciplines, his anthropology had international repercussions and remains an essential reference point in the history of the discipline. His body of work is one of the sources of the notion of Geisteswissenschaften as coined by Dilthey.