Re: Anthro-L

David H Weinlick (wein0079@MAROON.TC.UMN.EDU)
Mon, 22 Apr 1996 14:52:35 -0600

>This is an open letter to all maybe its premature , maybe I am impatient
>but, I feel that what I am about to say needs to be said. The other day
>I posted a request to anyone who has physical anthro as a speciality
>to give some feedback on a current research project. Granted I would not
>"demand" that anyone respond. However, in the few days since the post
>the only things that have been posted have for the most part been crap
>and drivel. Almost none of it is even pertinent to the topic of
>Anthro. Most of the "serious stuff" that ever is posted to this list
>serve is oriented more to the realm of sociology or philosophy. The
>irony of this is with regard to the philosophy stuff is that many of the
>things posted are so wrong it leads me to really wonder if any of the
>people who post the stuff have ever taken a reasoning course.
>It is also ironic that the "socio-cultural folks can't even agree on
>what the hell truth is. I certainly hope that you folks don't consider
>yourselves "scientists." It seems to me that you cannot be a scientist
>if you can't at least accept the concept that the world is knowable.
>On that topic the concept of "subjective" truth is baloney.
>How the heck can there be "more" than one truth in a given instance.
>What ones thinks they see is not necessarily the truth. If one were
>to allow for relativistic and subjective truth then we give power
>and creedence to ideas like racism.
>Anyway, I am unsubscribing to this list because the socio/cultural folks
>have a definite stranglehold on it. This is clear when the next ten or
>fifteen posts after a legitimate post are meaningless drivel. This it
>also should be pointed out is norm on Anthro-L since I have been on it
>Maybe one out of every ten posts has been
>specifically focused on anthro and even fewer on phys. or arch.
>The irony of this letter is that it will get many more responses than
>my posts that I wanted responses to.
>Matthew Joanis
>"Those who desire to give up Freedom in order to gain Security,
>will not have, nor do they deserve, either one."
> -- Thomas Jefferson

Perhaps the problem here is that you have placed your critique of these
threads in the realm of philosophy. Since this is an anthropology
listserv, the discussions of *truth* are based within an anthropological
frame of discussion. This can be seen in the concern about the truth being
one in which truth is that which is meaningful for human interaction, that
which produces the subject of our inquiry, culture. It seems only
reasonable that anthropologists are concerned primarily with what
intersubjective truths give meaning to the lives of peaople, since this is
not always synonymous with empirical truth. There is a body of academic
discussion which is anti-empiricist, and there is good reason to consider
the value of such an enterprise, since human beings are not purely
empirical in character.
As to whether or not anthropology is a science, that is a semantic
distinction which can be argued depending on the definition of science one
is operating under. However, there is no undisputed dictum of academia
which insists that science is the only valuable scholarly pursuit. So
what's your point?

Dave Weinlick
Department of Anthropology
University of Minnesota