Re: science of complexity

Tibor Benke (benke@SFU.CA)
Tue, 18 Apr 1995 09:57:17 -0700

Dear Ruby,

You wrote:

> You are quite right about the hierarchy in which the
>disciplines are placed. The social sciences are considered the "soft"
>sciences, vis-avis mathematics and the physical sciences, which are
>viewed as the "hard" sciences, which are also viewed by these disciplines
>as being superior to the "soft" sciences. But since anthropology
>consists of both soft and hard sciences, i.e., the four fields, it
>seems to me that anthropology is an attempt to integrate the soft and
>hard sciences; in fact, to demonstrate the connections among them, which
>is what makes anthropology holistic.

For me, this thread started with lamentations about the presumed demise of
the four field approach at its birthplace, Culombia. (Though that thread
might have been entirely separate from this one, I *am* prone to confuse
things.) What I was concerned about, and have been concerned about in the
three years since I have followed this list and occasionaly contributed to
it, is that every time an issue arises where our ( i. e. Anthropologists)
affairs are affected, we (they) seem to regress to the common discourse
prevalent in the wider society, rather then applying our methods to
ourselves as we would apply them to 'others'. This only confirms the
arguments of those who would maintain that anthropology is nothing but 'an
organon' of the imperialist enterprise. The huge abyss that has opened up
between the 'hard' and 'soft' sciences and between the 'scientific and
'humanistic' perspectives should, by rights, be grist for our mill, the
very sort of problem that our research should be focused on, if not
solving, at least, providing novel means of approach to.

>It strikes me that what I've just
>said is simplistic, very obvious, and perhaps does not relate to the
>point you're making. If so, I apologize.

Apology accepted. We seem to be suffering from the curse of Babel, and
communication is getting more difficult as the means of communication


>@> Tibor Benke / (^)%(#)
>@> Graduate Student (MA program)
>@> Department of Sociology and Anthropology
>@> Simon Fraser University,
>@> Burnaby, B.C., Canada. V5A 1S6