Re: Sociobiology and labels (was "WHAT!?!?")

Jay Bernstein (jbernst@PIPELINE.COM)
Sun, 5 May 1996 19:09:58 -0400

On Sun, May 5, 1996 13:50:43 at Jerome Barkow wrote:

>can anthropology continue to grow while
>using the simplistic psychology of a Malinowski or a Marvin Harris, a
>psychology incompatible with what much of academic psychology has been
>moving to, in recent years; or is it time for the discipline to at least
>catch up with the post-behavioristic, complex cognitive psychology of the

>nineties? The fact that this latter psychology is compatible with and in
>part influenced by evolutionary biology is probably not nearly as
>important for most anthropologists as is the fact that it is a complex
>rather than our usual simple, black-box, "drive" psychology.

This indeed is the challenge for psychological anthropology. Evolutionary
psychology is promising, but I believe there is still a future for
psychoanalysis and ethnoscience. I think Eric Wolf in his interview in
Current Anthropology said Culture and Personality was having a renaissance.

You implicitly raise the question of whether psychological functionalism is
worth keeping in anthropology. Many symbolist/interpretivists have
rejected it, but it seems to me the evolutionists kept it. Psychological
functionalism, even in Harris, has the advantage of parsimony in that it
says a man did something because it satisfied him (made him happy), rather
than saying he did it because his culture dictated it (the behavior or
result is culturally valued.)

Thanks for your thoughts.

Jay Bernstein