Re: Put in on the ground

karl h schwerin (schwerin@UNM.EDU)
Wed, 27 Sep 1995 13:58:27 -0600

On Sat, 23 Sep 1995, John McCreery wrote:

> Matt Tomaso writes,
> snip <

> I'll second that. I wonder, too, if it is possible to find an example which
> falls in neither the "We must remember that..." or the "In the grand sweep
> of things...." categories. The bit from Churchland I quoted a few
> messages back about the human brain's having evolved like other brains
> to coordinate muscular action falls into the first category. Bob Graber's
> ideas about population size and social complexity fall into the second.
> Like Matt, I find that as what I am talking about becomes more specific,
> evolution fades into the background. Doesn't disappear, mind you; just
> doesn't offer much in ways to cope with detail beyond an admonition to
> keep an eye on material circumstances, demography and such as well as what
> the folks in question say they think they're doing. But that's what good
> historians, generals, business leaders, etc., do anyway. So what's to
> get excited about?
> John McCreery

Go back and look at Marshal Sahlins & Elman Service 1959. *Evolution and
Culture* for an excellent discussion of the distinction between "general
evolution" ("in the grand sweep of things") and "specific evolution"
("the details"). Subsequently, I think we can consider most of the work
done by the cultural ecologists to fall into the category of "specifics"
or "the details" of evolution. The kinds of questions they dealt with
were significant, with evolution hardly fading into the background -
perhaps it *was* mundane (lacking the excitement and glory of the "grand
sweep of things"), but then it was also much more closely linked to daily
life and the chores of existence (survival).

Karl Schwerin SnailMail: Dept. of
Anthropology Univ. of New Mexico Albuquerque, NM 87131

Much charitable endeavor is motivated by an unconscious
desire to peer into lives that one is glad to be unable
to share. . . . . Edward Sapir