Re: reply to Mizrach

Sat, 24 Sep 1994 17:36:15 +0000

>(1) No one writing implied that all small scale societies degrade their

And I didn't *say* so either (that they do or that anybody said they did)

> In fact, all of those pointing out that the noble, ecological,
>savage was a modern twist on an old myth did so the way any professional
>anthropologist would--with specific data on specific societies. There is
>nothing polemical about this procedure.

True, but the evaluative (as opposed to descriptive-etic) term "sick
societies" *is* polemical. This is what I was referring to.

>Just further specification of what we
>already know: the range of variation among human populations is too great for
>any single empirical generalization to fit all of them.

Indeed. Agreed.

>(2) Mizrach's point on the technological potential of large scale societies to
>implement their cultural premises in large scale disastrous ways echoes what
>several others have said and is well taken. Bateson had some very interesting
>things to say on this score--he is still well worth reading.

Yes. But then, I like what his daughter has to say too.

>(3) I doubt that elctronic media will ever result in faculty not teaching for
>two reasons. First, most faculty I know can't resist a captive audience
>appearing to hang on their every word.

The operative word being "appearing."

>Second, those most thoroughly engaged
>in research to which they are utterly committed need access to the classroom.
>This is the place where you are most likely to find out if your ideas hold
>water. This is because you are forced to make your ideas clear enough for
>students to comprehend and respond to. Second, once students comprehend your
>ideas, they are the ones most like to ask the naive questions that cut to
>the heart of the issue you are wrestling with. If you can't connect your
>theory to the most naive questions, then your theory is probably in need of
>repair or a long rest in the trash can.

*AGREED.* I am often the one with the "naive" questions from the back of
the room. But I would prefer the more precisely analytic term of "cutting
through all the B.S." as opposed to the less precise "naive."

>But you have to give the students
>enough background to understand the context of your own ideas. You prepare
>them to be discussants. In the process, of course, they learn a good deal
>about the issue under consideration. You can get naive questions from your
>colleagues, of course, but only from those colleagues who are adult enough to
>be too unselfconscious to care what their more self-conscious brethren
>think about their naivete.

Well put there, Mike.

> Mike lieber

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