The "TRUTH" for Anthropology
John Pastore (venture@CANCUN.RCE.COM.MX)
Fri, 26 Apr 1996 21:29:00 +0000
On 26 Apr 96 at 1:47, Holly Swyers wrote:
> Mr. Joanis has some noteworthy points. Most notably on 4-25-96:
> start quote==============
> BUT, since it has been VERY clear that that my view is considered
> "wrong" by many on this list, as evident by the response my post
> provoked, than it is clear that those who subscribe to the
> relativist and subjectivist world view are contradicting themselves.
Let's take a good look at this as Holly suggests with Anthropology
being only part of the overall picture.
At Ageanet, they are at odds with the "myths" of the reality of Homer
and his Odyssey, and the "realities" of the myths. At writers.mit,
they are fractured over fictionalizing what is non-fiction, and
making non-fiction out of fiction. At Aztlan, they are paralyzed
between what is "germane", as provided by "collaborative" evidence,
and any evident collaboration of what is "germane". In sci.
archaeology they are all hyper about whether an idea is
hyperdiffusionist or an idea is totally independent of any diffusion.
In sci.archaeology.moderated they are moderating over what is to be
moderated. Everywhere, every group is polarized and paralyzed.
Always there is this, and always there is that. The adducers, the
deducers. The so-called "socio/culturists", the
ethnoeccentric/abberationists, the "relativists/subjectivists", the
static/objectivists, x's and the y's, the p's and the u's, etc.,
etc. The theoroticians and the investigators --even further
sub-categorized as sexist theoroticians, racist reserchers, and so
on, and so on.
And never, absolutely never, the Galileos, and Pasteurs who first
theorized, and then also investigated, and arrived finally at
results. How did they do it, without being by present modes, the
hopelessly debilitating targets for the being the so-called one or
the other --or not be hopelessly split-personalities?
Maybe Galileo and Pateur were, and worse. Maybe they were sexist and
racist to boot. Galileo to invent the telescope to prove the ladys's
bottom down the Via Veneto was round, or Pasteur who, so pure,
overlooked chocolate milk. Yikes! I not only think not, but also they
knew how not to be either just objective or just subjective: but
Yet round and round it goes. And who fabricates the labels and
supplies the fuel? Not those who have a compulsion to pidgeon-hole
everything into the most fractionalized, categorizied,
sub-departamentalized slot in a slit, so there can be those others?
Was that what Galileo and Pasteur were doing? I'm sure not. They
wouldn't have been able to get their heads out of the holes within
the holes long enough to come up with what they did.
Prejudice, has become more of a method than a state of being.
Embraced by scientists who flaunt their objectivity, while incapable
being both objective and subjective , they, under the guise of
differing 'schools' of thought, perpertrate their predjudice to all
those concepts, and those people voicing those concepts, which they
simply do not, or cannot understand, to thus percieve those people as
opposing their favorite abstractsions, and, in turn, worthy of their
senseless categorizations. It is never the "socio/cultural school of
though" for example, it is always: "those socio/culturists".
In every, inevitable, incidence of such caterwalling (?) that I have
witnessed, its always characterized by a complain that no one is
listening to them, and then, when that doesn't work, somehow also
complain of a provocation of a so-called response. Armed with what a
definition of what truth must be, they categorize and lambast the
rest for their "b.s", "inability to reason", "realize the truth",
etc. etc. until they come full circle using the same arguments
already put to them. Why?
I suggest, its a combination of the thinking processes having simply
passed over there heads, as busy as their heads are in the holes of
the holes they find themselves while pidgeon-holeing, and reediting
their dictums --the single, most common item they muster, when
addressing a science: their idea or perception of 'empiric' truth --
and its universality-- as has been taught with the scientific
method. They rile themselves into a dedicated passion for the
singular, concept of objectivity to determine the singular empiric
When a discussion passes the bounds of such mentality, they then
introduce and try to force a game of one-upmanship even when that's
not the game, even until the collective thinking process of those
who want to pursue the train of thought is reduced to that, their,
lowest common of denominators. It always gets silly, and
Well, there is more than one 'empirc' veiw and measure of reality,
just as there are more than one realty and even as there are
Non-Ordinary Realities, even as those with such limited perceptions
have never even begun to consider, much less look for. There are
insturments to detect realities different from mere microscopes and
telescopes. There are realities yet discovered, much less
mentalities or insturments to detect them. There are already
'empiric' methodologies which not only arrive at the same
observations as 'empiric' observations, but also other methodologies
for making other but equally valid observations. And there are
motives for all of them which arrive at results, and those which
Let me try to explain simply, if for no other reason, but to free
this discussion of such endless convolutions made by such absolute
claims for anyone's particular perception of 'empiric' TRUTH, its
singularity, and, time alllowed. its unversality, so maybe we can
Lets define three ways of thinking, so we can dispense with one and
go on with the other: arithmatic, geometric, and expanding (for the
lack of better terms):
1 + 1 = 2, 2 + 2 = 4, and so on. That is an arithmatic progression,
and that arrives at reliable and valid predictions when you are
measuring linear, two-dimensional concepts. This is, as I am sure is
agreeable, sensible, logical, non-b.s., etc.. In music, something
like the polyphony of a Gregorian Chant.
Then there is geometric which is more like the progression of square
roots, and three-dimensional concepts. In music, something like the
triades of Beethovens 9th. OK?
Then there is expansive. Hmmm. Difficult to explain, but for many, no
matter how well explained wouldn't make a difference anyway, and I
know while this is obviously known by others on this list it may be,
nevertheless, helpful to a few --so bear with me its for their sake
to know, and ours to get on.
Lets throw all the parts, and I mean all the parts, of a computer on
a table. Does that make a computer? No. It must be organized, and
functioning. And then what happens? You have something larger than
the some of the parts. What is that something? In this case, it is a
computer. Before it was just a mess of parts.
So when a science is not 'functioning' because anyone, and I mean
anyone, limits, say, anthropology, to just one of its components or
even just what is perceived as a set of some of its components, such
as supposedly a single, universal 'empric' method of investigation
but without, as Snowden and Calo are seraching for: a cohesive
theory, what have you got? You've got a mess of some components, and
certainly not the TRUTH of Anthropology, its methodologies,
teminologies, etc. etc., much less just the plain, old, "logical",
"sensical", even arithmatic TRUTH of anything else. Anthropology
lacks Culture --left out of the sum of the parts, because it could
not be measured.
So why am I calling the third thinking methodology "expanding"? Well,
because when the cohesive theory bound all the components of the
computer to function, the WHOLE became more, and SOMETHING ELSE than
the mere sum of the parts. It expanded to be something else.
And even when the cohesive theory is found, the TRUTH of it must be
flexible enough to evolve, to the new forms of being that comes about
by existing in this must be expanding universe --and all its varying
There is no TRUTH in the sense of how the categorizers look for it.
It cannot be percieved, and detected to conform to even the 'empiric'
methodologies of any science, or train of thought, no matter how
arithmatically, or even geometrically attempted, because the TRUTH is
not a thing, it is even more than the function of a whole, full
complement of well organized components.
And because the universe is expanding, and changing by the its mere
expansion, so is the TRUTH. And no science, or scientist, can claim
it any more than a glob of ever expanding mercury can be grabbed.
Even at the best of times, the very best anyone can do, is only be
closer to the truth, and the best any train of thought can be is stay
as close apace to however close they can get to that forever
expanding, elusive, snipe hunt called "The Search for TRUTH."
How does that get us anywhere? Well maybe a little closer. Culture
must be a vital component of a FUNCTIONING Anthropology. Given the
variables of differing cultures and their mulitplicity, and their
respective perceptions of their varying realities, it would seem that
a WHOLE Anthropology will need new concepts for multiple 'empirical'
methodologies --free of the singularity that a supposed
'universality' imposes. If the cohesive theory is to emerge it must
start there at the beginning. The science itself, like all sciences,
will then evolve as its cohesive ideas, and concepts are articulated
in its new terminology. No?
In the end, the TRUTH is always stranger than fiction.
Ka Xiik Keech Ya Utzil,
Writer/Guide in 'El Mayab'
("The Mayan Homeland")