Re: Mimesis and Alterity jargon

Sat, 8 Oct 1994 11:36:18 -0400

David DeGusta has written:
>>The advantage of the word "mimesis" is that it has a precise meaning and long,
>>long history in the human sciences.
> Do you mean sociocultural anthropology when you say "human
>sciences"? I ask, not out of rhetorical bluster, but because I'm a graduate
>student in biological anthropology (which fits the definition of a "human
>science") and have never heard of mimesis. I've read papers on mimicry and
>its relation to evolutionary theory, but don't recall that term. Have I
>missed or forgotten something? Or were you using "sciences" in its most
>general and imprecise meaning (which is okay by me)?

I refer to what are called the social and behavioral sciences by the
term "human sciences," those that deal with the specifically human
phenomenon of culture and which overlap somewhat with what are called
the "humanities." Philosophers and sociologists have made use of the
term mimesis for some time. Interesingly, though, my "Little Oxford
Dictionary" defines mimesis as follows: "n. *Biol.* close external
resemblence of an animal to another that is distasteful or harmful to
predators at first." Apparently, classically trained biologists drew an analogy
between the human faculty and the more limited animal one to imitate, in
this case in order to dissimulate.

Raf Alvarado