Re: Anthro, History, Physics-Envy

Matthew S. Tomaso (Tomaso@MAIL.UTEXAS.EDU)
Thu, 12 Oct 1995 12:25:36 -0500

> one wonders what it is about anthropology that prevents
>us from creating our own independent paradigms and models? Might this
>not create a much stronger and more influential discipline? Can we cite
>Levi-Strauss as one such, or has he constructed his structuralism on
>linguistic models?

Structural linguistics ala Saussure and Peirce were the foundation upon
which Levi-Strauss based his structuralism. In fact, L-S has said several
times that what he does in his mythic interpretations IS linguistics on more
than an analogous sense. The historiography behind Levi-Strauss is right in
his own writing and his citations - it's not difficult to trace. And yet,
L-S' work, its elegance and analytical power (assuming you believe him),
lead him to make decidedly non-linguistic kinds of statements.
I don't have any problem with what Karl calls 'borrowing', since,
after all, all of our sciences diverged from common ancestry fairly recently
(in the historical/archaeological scale) and many of these ideas
(systematics and typology, as well as historical linguistics/evolution) are
directly related to things once held in common. Cross-fertilization often
yields a more useful organism, eh?

Matt Tomaso.
Anthropology. University of Texas at Austin.
Phone/Fax 512-453-6256