Teachers and their fresher students (was Re: Evidence . . . .

Gil Hardwick (gil@landmark.iinet.net.au)
Thu, 11 May 1995 05:07:30 GMT

In article <Admin.0x0z@oubliette.COM>, Eric Shook (Panopticon@oubliette.COM) writes:
>> Marvin Harris? Do you actually mean the paperback writer after the
>> fashion of Von Daniken and Wilson? Please any "serious anthropologist"
>> do give comment. Welcome indeed.
>Gil, are you taking a lot of drugs, or something? Or are you seriously of
>the opinion that Marvin Harris is a quack? Have you read any of his works?

No drugs, merely stimulating my new fresher student Bruce Scott into
doing a bit of thinking for himself. You might let him reply of his
own accord, Eric, were you at all interested in him actually learning
anything about anthropology.

>1. Why is Marvin Harris's book "Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches" so often used
>to supplement intro to cultural anthropology college courses, and why are
>so many of his books contained in the bibliographies of the anthropology
>texts used in colleges? Certainly he might occasion controversy, but I can
>hardly imagine that you would have ggod reason to damn him to the ranks of
>Von Daniken.

Damn Harris? Not at all! It is of relevance to my argument indeed that
you mention here the inclusion of his work in introductory texts.

I have mentioned his work for the same reason here, no doubt, since
Bruce had expressed his interest in the work, so as to supplement
his education. Why why don't you just let him write his own term
paper, and go tutor your own students?

As he proceeds into Honours, maybe in 3-4 years time, I have no doubt
that he will begin to develop an appreciation of the WHOLE context of
the human condition, not merely that small part constrained by the
material environment. That human culture in fact transcends and then
reimposes its own forms upon said environment with remarkable and I
must add fascinating and often breathtaking caprice.

One might trust too, that by then he will have managed to come to
terms with his overtly materialist interpretation, and gone on to
take all of the various theories into account before going off into
the wild somewhere to DO FIELDWORK. Then on returning thoroughly
disaffected and depressed, wondering what any of it has to do with
anything whatsoever, perhaps he may eventually come to grips with
the further idea that NONE of these theories sit in adversary to any
other theory AT ALL.

That it is only a few anthropolgists who decide for themselves that
some other anthropologists are their adversaries to start with. While
none of the Walmatjari really give a shit what anthropologists do in
any event.

In the meantime, I DO WISH Eric that Bruce would not go scurrying off
to hide behind your skirts all the time. How in heavens name do you
expect him to be learning anything.

>And please, don't respond to me with the same flim flam that you give the
>scsi.astro folk just because I am questioning you after you have read and
>responded to all of the "big bang" stuff. Take a moment to give me an
>earnest answer, and be your light hearted best. I am, after all, part of
>the sci.anthopology group, and although I am begining to wonder if you are
>over stressed, I have defended you twice so far upon occasions you are
>unaware. I would hate to get into the cycle with you. Its not like it would
>serve some leveling purpose. :-)

But you don't bother to read any of my stuff to start with, Eric,
else you would know my position on anthropological theory.

Else I'd not have to be so blunt with you too about taking up such a
Marvinesque (sounds better than "Harrisesque") position vis a vis
your own colleague.