Re: The Real Place of Fuzziness in Anthropology

Paul Gorman (
20 Aug 1996 15:53:13 GMT

Joel and Lynn Gazis-Sax ( wrote:

: I can't say that I am much impressed with your response. You still
: don't get the point.

You seem to say this a lot. Perhaps you are not making your point as
well as you might?

: The map is not the territory as Korsinski (sp.) tells us. Having the hill
: on the map is not the same as walking on it. And some maps are more useful
: than others. Topographic maps were an improvement on earlier maps because
: they simulated undulations on the earth's surface. But they were still
: not the same as the earth's surface. Period. No amount of mental exercise
: can make them so.

No arguments here.

: will decrease. Beyond that certain period, scientists can be only marginally
: better than psychics in predicting /precise/ events. And thus one of the
: promises of classificatory systems is defeated by itself and that is the
: promise that some day we will be able to predict anything.

?I don't understand. Surely you know that we cannot measure the position
and momentum of an electron simultaneously. Uncertainty exists at a very
basic level in our universe and is accepted. That alone seems to rule
out the ability to 'predict anything'. You seem to be preaching to the

: Could there be a better model out there? Chaos theory might be the start
: of that better model. Those of us with social science backgrounds have
: seen our most cherished beliefs torn to pieces by a single fact. Understanding
: human society is maddening. Our subjects talk back, they tell us when they
: think we are wrong about them. This perspective puts a different light
: on the ability of Science to know all.

Science places distinct limits on the boundries of human knowledge. You
do not seem to understand this. In principle *nothing* can be known to
be true. Certain things can rationally be assumed to be true. Other things
can irrationally be assumed to be true. It seems to me that science assumes
as little as it can get away with rationally and proceeds from there (i.e.
it assumes that the percieved world is real and working from that attempts
to model how that percieved world behaves). It does not (at least in
it's present day incarnation) pretend that *everything* can be known --
indeed it places absolute boundries on the knowledge we can have of the
world around us.