Ow, I hate doing splits

Sat, 15 Oct 1994 14:08:18 +0000

>I have been following the thread on AA with some interest and was
>dismayed by the note posted by Hugh Jarvis, but I do respect his
>privalage as co-owner and manager of the list to request a change in
>dialogue. I hope that the following does not violate his request.
>In simplistic terms, my spin on the whole issue revolves around what
>I, and probably most subscribers to the list, recognize as a major
>split in the profession, between humanistic and scientific approaches
>to understanding human behavior.

This is putting "the split" in C.P. Snow "Two Cultures" terms... but, of
course, phrasing it this way does seem to be kind of curious, considering
that my old anthro dept. used to advertise itself as "the place where the
sciences and the humanities meet." Perhaps I speak only for myself, but I
find anthro interesting because it is one of the few disciplines in which
some people seek to INTEGRATE (rather than pit one against the other)
science *and* humanism.
Some people would see your split in different terms. I've seen the
sciences/humanities split in anthro also couched as a
etic-nomothetic/emic-interpretive split or, of course, a pomo/mod split. To
me, it's just the same old left-brain/right-brain split...
Also, it reminds me of an old quote I saw once in Utne Reader, I
think. "There are two kinds of people in this world. People who think there
are two kinds of people, and those who don't."

> I may be wrong, but it seems like
>the crux of the problem is that humanists believe that all approaches
>to knowledge are equally valid and therefore criticism of any given
>approach, theory, etc is not valid

As usual, people seem to assume (fallaciously) that humanism always goes
hand in hand with relativism, nihilism, lack of objective standards, or
whatever their least favorite dead philosopher of science's mistake was...
Clearly, they've not seen two humanists argue. *Some* *pomo* humanists
might agree with that statement (though I doubt it), but I suspect an Allan
Bloom-style humanist would not, because they would say that humanistic
approaches which do not involve truth, beauty, and freedom (or whatever
their favorite philosophical criteria are) are not valid.
The "classical" definition of humanism is, of course, any inquiry
dedicated to advancing the human condition. Thus, science is often (though
not always) a humanistic endeavor.

>, whereas scientists demand
>empirical support for theories and that some approaches are not

I think that even people who have not read philosophy of science (and, yes,
even humanists) would agree that 1) theories need empirical support and 2)
some approaches are not valid. However, (in)validity of propositions for
humanists might be determined on a wider basis than just 1). The theory
that people will die painfully if placed in barrels of frozen water is
testable, (and was tested by the Nazis), but on humanistic grounds might be
considered invalid...

>Obviously, these two approaches are not compatible.

If they are not compatible within anthropology, which proclaims itself the
locus where they are supposed to be compatible, then they are not
compatible anywhere.

>Can a single organization such as AAA accomodate such these different
>approaches through the publication of a single journal, annual
>meeting, newsletter, etc?

Can one brain accomodate two hemispheres? Biologically it has to, although
the "split" often prevents it from accomplishing what it needs to.

>If not, then individuals belonging to the
>group that feels most trod upon can simply spend their energies and
>dollars on societies that meet their needs.

And yet another group will go on seeking victim status. It's like they say:
"These days, you're nobody if you're not somebody's victim."

Curmudgeonly Yours,

! Seeker1 [@Nervm.Nerdc.Ufl.Edu] (real info available on request) !
! CyberAnthropologist, TechnoCulturalist, Guerilla Ontologist, Chaotician !
! Discordian Society, Counter-Illuminati Operations Branch !
! "One measures a circle beginning anywhere." -- Charles Fort

Version: 2.2