Re: Columbia and 4-fields

Tue, 4 Apr 1995 14:19:06 CST

R. Thornton raises some good points about the difficulties of teach
anthropology's four subfields in a single program; how much more
challenging is the task in a single, one-semester course! Still, we
ought to keep trying. I wonder if a department, once fragmented, ever
comes together; and whether students who do not get a four-field
introduction ever get a coherent idea of what Anthropology is--the
vision it can afford into the human condition? True, when any of us
teaches a four-field intro course, some segments of the course will be
covered more competently than others. But that is always the case in
any course of any kind. Competence is a matter of degree, and a
well-trained PhD in Anthropology ought to know much more about each
subfield than practically all students taking the course. Thornton
states the axiom, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing," to which I
always want to respond by asking, "Is complete ignorance really
preferable?" --Bob Graber