Re: buck passing and reductionism

Tibor Benke (benke@SFU.CA)
Mon, 23 May 1994 22:11:01 -0700

Tom Riley points out:

>Daniel Grossman suggests that I stated that Kroeber would have had
>anthropology explained by psychology. Not so. Kroeber writes that
>if there are laws of human behavior, they are to be found in psychology.
>Of course that's OK since Bloch wrote in the journal History and
>Theory that if there are laws in history they are to be found in
>anthropology. Always nice to pass the buck, I suppose.

Writing in Germany in the 'Twenties, Karl Mannheim remarked:

...Yet the scientist's way of thinking had fascinated the
analytic era to such a degree that none had dared as much
as broach, let alone offer to solve, certain essential questions,
for the only reason that they did not fit into the accepted
catalogue of sciences or with the general pattern of theoretic
prejudice. When general questions of principle nevertheless
came up in research and could not be thrust aside, the
specialists in the analytic era would refer them to experts
in some neighbouring field, who in turn would pass them
on with the identical excuse that it was out of place in their
particular scheme of investigation. In this prepetual game
of passing the buck the human studies not only risked in fact
omitting to answer the most vital questions in their own field,
but, which is worse, they were courting the danger of overlooking
the scientific obligation to tackle these problems.
(Mannheim,"On the Interpretation of 'Weltanscauung'" p. 37 in _Essays on
the Sociology of Knowledge_ (Paul Kecskemeti Ed.) . Rutledge & Kegan Paul,

Mannheim thought that the 'analytic era' was on the vane. But it seems,
his natural optimism got the better of him. The more things change, the
more they stay the same?

>@> (*)%(^)%
>@> Tibor Benke / (^)%(#)
>@> Graduate Student (MA program)
>@> Department of Sociology and Anthropology
>@> Simon Fraser University,
>@> Burnaby, B.C., Canada. V5A 1S6 >@>
>@> Nota Bene: The opinions herein expressed are merely my own ! >@> ^^^^^^^^^^^