Re: sci.anthro ???

Norman Sides (
16 Aug 1995 23:15:38 -0700

david yost ( wrote:
: Does anything in this group have to do with science ?
: First time reading it,boy!

I agree with your assessment of this group. There seems to be very little
science here. I first checked it out a few months ago and even naively
posted a question concerning theoretical issues. I got no responses, of
course. This appears not to be a forum where substantive issues are
discussed. The most active thread I saw was a discussion of breast and
penis size, or the one involving professional sniping between an Australian
anthropologist and his American counterparts. Well, maybe the breast and
pudenda thread wasn't entirely frivolous, but if you're looking for
serious scientific discussion of society, culture, human behavior or the
nature of social change, this aint the place.

Is it just this group, or is cultural anthropology itself moribund? With
the loss of the world's aboriginal peoples or their cultural
assimilation, has anthropology lost its focus? If so, it is because the
theoretical foundations of the science were never fully developed in the
first place. What is culture? I've seen many definitions, but none was
more than simply descriptive - and inadequately descriptive at that. This
isn't too surprising considering the complexity of the phenomena
involved, but if anthropology can't get more rigor in its own central
concepts, it's not really an adequate science.

There's lots of stuff going on in the world today: events and processes
which would seem to be the proper subject matter of a vigorous and
productive social science. I think a few conceptual revolutions are going
to have to occur, though, if anthropology is to shake off its apparent
lethargy and begin shedding more light on these events and processes.