Re: Winks and twitches

Matthew Hill (mhhill@WATARTS.UWATERLOO.CA)
Wed, 3 Apr 1996 18:55:19 -0500

Just to be disputatious, I would suggest that meaning is idiosyncratic
and thus irrelevant to the anthropological endevour. I know that is not
spelled right but it looks better than any of the seven alternatives I
have tried. Culture is shared. There is simply no way of knowing whether
meanings are.

On Wed, 3 Apr 1996, SS51000 wrote:

> J. McCreery makes the excellent point that it is often possible to bring
> empirical evidence to bear on the question of what a piece of behavior
> means (or meant). My criticism that Geertz aimed to insulate meaning
> from empirical study was perhaps misguided. I would like to refocus by
> suggesting instead that by thinking of behavior as a way to get at
> meaning, and meaning as the constituent of culture, we mire ourselves in
> the swamp of cultural idealism. I insist that scientific progress is
> obstructed by defining culture as a "web of significances," as if it
> generated behavior and artifacts but did not consist of them. In sum:
> What gripes me is not so much Geertz's non-empiricism, but his
> not-too-subtle commitment to idealist explanation. --Bob Graber

Matthew Hill (