ABSTRACT. What are the laws of human evolution? How did it all start? How was it all possible? Did nature create human culture? Did culture create nature? Or, maybe, did they co-create each other? Can the environment create a human society? Does matter determine spirit? Or, maybe, the other way around? Or, even better, do matter and spirit co-determine each other? Such are the endless questions that anthropological research starts from and ends to. Endless questions without answers, endless horizons opening before the anthropological researcher the moment he starts asking the essential questions. Franz Boas was among the first anthropologists to have had the courage to tackle such issues, for some of which he found certain irresistible answers that hold their validity even today, when science is much more advanced than it was at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th. Hereby we propose a tour-de-force incursion through one of the most powerful systems of thought in the 20th century that marked off the beginning of American anthropology. From Boasian anthropology derive so many scientific ramifications that they defy a brief summary; we hereby propose a reconsideration of Boasian anthropology which enables us to reach at least a few answers to the questions above: the human phenomenon is one of the most complex in the cosmos, and that is why its riddles claim our undivided attention. What is clear is that nature and culture work inextricably together in a system of embedded multiple layers functioning like a fine-tuned quantum clockwork mechanism whose enigma we may start to understand if we agree to move out of our own cognitive matrix, out of our own social cocoon, in order to see in its vastness and majesty the puzzle of all puzzles: life in action.

Keywords: relationality; diffusionism; race; evolution; regression; adaptation; accumulation; plasticity

Mihai A. Stroe
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University of Bucharest, Romania

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