Anthropology is the systematic study of humanity, with the goal of understanding our evolutionary origins, our distinctiveness as a species, and the great diversity in our forms of social existence across the world and through time. The focus of Anthropology is on understanding both our shared humanity and diversity, and engaging with diverse ways of being in the world.

Throughout its existence as an academic discipline, anthropology has been located at the intersection of natural science and humanities. The biological evolution of Homo sapiens and the evolution of the capacity for culture that distinguishes humans from all other species are indistinguishable from one another. While the evolution of the human species is a biological development like the processes that gave rise to the other species, the historical appearance of the capacity for culture initiates a qualitative departure from other forms of adaptation, based on an extraordinarily variable creativity not directly linked to survival and ecological adaptation. The historical patterns and processes associated with culture as a medium for growth and change, and the diversification and convergence of cultures through history, are thus major foci of anthropological research

In the middle of the 20th century, the distinct fields of research that separated anthropologists into specialties were physical anthropology, emphasizing the biological process and endowment that distinguishes Homo sapiens from other species, archaeology, based on the physical remnants of past cultures and former conditions of contemporary cultures, usually found buried in the earth, linguistic anthropology, emphasizing the unique human capacity to communicate through articulate speech and the diverse languages of humankind, and social and/or cultural anthropology, emphasizing the cultural systems that distinguish human societies from one another and the patterns of social organization associated with these systems.

If there were a science of human beings it would be anthropology that aims at understanding the totality of experience through structural context

-William Dilthey