Rationalism, empiricism, and Kant
Rationalism: the idea that human beings
achieve knowledge because of their capacity
to reason.
From the rationalist perspective, there are a
priori truths. Progress of the intellect over the
centuries has resulted from reason.
Plato (428–327 bce) and Leibnitz (Gottfried
Wilhelm Baron von Leibniz, 1646–1716)
Empiricism: we are born tabula rasa–with a
“clean slate.”
What we come to know is the result of our
experience written on that slate.
John Locke (1632-17045): We see and hear
and taste things; we accumulate experience;
we make generalizations. We understand
what is true from what we are exposed to.
And so, David Hume held, we can never be
absolutely sure that what we know is true.
Skepticism is a fundamental principle of
modern science.
The scientific method, as it’s understood
today, involves making incremental
improvements in what we know, edging
toward truth but never quite getting there –
and always being ready to have yesterday’s
truth overturned by today’s findings.
Kant (1724–1804): a way out
A priori truths exist: if we see those truths it’s
because of the way our brains are structured.
The human mind, he said, has a built-in
capacity for organizing sensory experience.
Today, many scholars to look to the human
mind itself (cognitive neuroscience) for clues
about how human behavior is ordered.
Noam Chomsky and B.F. Skinner
Chomsky: Any human can learn any language
because we have a universal grammar
already built into our minds. This is why
translation is possible across all languages.
Skinner: humans learn their language the
way all animals learn everything –by operant
conditioning, or reinforced learning.
Example: Babies learn the sounds of their
language because adults reward babies for
making the right sounds.
The dilemma of rationalism vs. empiricism
Empiricism holds that people learn their values and
that values are therefore relative.
Rationalism holds that there are transcendental
truths, which is are not subject to the principle of
Hume and others made the idea of a mechanistic
science of humanity as plausible as the idea of a
mechanistic science of other natural phenomena.
But … I consider myself an empiricist, but I accept
the rationalist idea that there are universal truths
about right and wrong.
The norms of science
Science is “an objective, logical, and
systematic method of analysis of
phenomena, devised to permit the
accumulation of reliable knowledge”
(Lastrucci 1963:6).
Consider the terms objective, method,
and reliable.
Objectivity is a delusion; striving for it is not.
The so-called method of science is three
assumptions: (1) reality is out there to be
discovered; (2) observation is the way to
discover it; and (3) material explanations for
observable phenomena are sufficient.
Using culture as an explanation is, in its own
appealing way, metaphysical.
Observation can be enhanced with
instruments. Humans can be enhanced by
training as instruments of observation.
Reliability: Something that is true in Detroit is
just as true in Vladivostok and Nairobi.
Knowledge can be kept secret by nations, but
there can never be such a thing as
Venezuelan physics or American biology.
From Democritus to Newton
The scientific method is barely 400 years old.
Its systematic application to human thought
and behavior is less than half that.
Aristotle insisted that knowledge should be
based on experience and that conclusions
about general cases should be based on the
observation of more limited ones.
But Aristotle did not advocate disinterested,
objective accumulation of reliable knowledge.
Until the 17th century, scholars relied on
metaphysical concepts to explain observable
phenomena. Even in the 19th century,
biologists still talked about vital forces as a
way of explaining the existence of life.
Democritus (460–370 bce) was a materialist
as was Lucretius (99-55 bce).
But without the technology we have today –
microscopes, compasses and sextants,
computers – these works had little impact.
Exploration, printing, and modern science
1413: Spanish ships began raiding the coast
of West Africa, hijacking cargo and capturing
slaves from Islamic traders.
The compass and the sextant made it
possible to go farther from Europe.
These breakthroughs were based on
empirical observation, as were those in
architecture and astronomy by the Mayans
and Egyptians.
The development of science required more.
Johannes Gutenberg (1397–1468)
First edition of the Bible from movable type in
By the end of the 15th, every major city in
Europe had a press.
Printed books provided a means for the
accumulation and distribution of knowledge.
Eventually, printing made organized science
possible. But writing hadn’t done it, and more
was still needed.
Martin Luther and literacy
Martin Luther (1483–1546) was born just 15
years after Gutenberg died.
Protestant Reformation began in 1517:
challenged the authority of the Roman
Catholic church to be the sole interpreter and
disseminator of theological doctrine.
This required literacy on the part of everyone,
not just the clergy. Literacy didn’t cause
organized science, but it helped make it
Galileo Galilei (1564–1642)
Founder of modern science.
Best-known achievement: refutation of the
Ptolemaic (geocentric) theory of the heavens.
The Catholic Church reaffirmed its support for
the Ptolemaic theory.
In 1616 Galileo was ordered not to espouse
either his refutation of it or his support for
the Copernican heliocentric theory.
Galileo published in 1632: Dialogue
Concerning the Two Chief World Systems,
Ptolemaic and Copernican.
Between the direct observational evidence
that he had gathered with his telescopes and
the mathematical analyses that he developed
for making sense of his data, Galileo hardly
had to espouse anything. The Ptolemaic
theory was simply rendered obsolete.
This established science as an effective
method for seeking knowledge.
Galileo nearly published and perished,
but he did more than just insist that
scholars observe things rather than rely
on metaphysical dogma to explain
them. He developed the idea of the
Bacon and Descartes
Francis Bacon (1561–1626): focused on
induction, the use of direct observation to
confirm ideas and the linking together of
observed facts to form theories of how
natural phenomena work.
René Descartes (1596–1650): distinguished
between the mind and matter and argued for
the independent existence of the physical and
the mental world.
Descartes envisioned a universal
science of nature based on direct
experience and the application of
Isaac Newton (1643–1727)
Pressed the scientific revolution at Cambridge
Calculus, celestial mechanics and other areas
of physics.
Just as important: the hypothetico-deductive
model of science that combines both
induction (empirical observation) and
deduction (reason) into a single method.
Science, money and war
The scientific approach to knowledge making
was established just as Europe began to
experience the growth of industry and the
development of large cities.
Those cities were filled with uneducated
factory laborers. This created a need for
increased productivity in agriculture among
those not engaged in industrial work.
The new method for gaining knowledge
about nature promised bigger crops,
more productive industry, and more
successful military campaigns.
The Royal Society in England began in
London in 1644 with a group of philosophers
who did experiments.
The document that established the French
Academy of Science in 1666 included a
proposal to study “the explosive force of
gunpowder enclosed (in small amounts) in an
iron or very thick copper box.”
Easlea, B. 1980. Witch hunting, magic, and the new philosophy. Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey:
Humanities Press. Pp. 207, 216
Political support for science increased across
Europe: more scientists were produced; more
university posts were created for them to
work in; more laboratories were established
at academic centers.
Journals and learned societies developed as
scientists sought outlets for their work.
Publishing and sharing knowledge became a
material benefit, and the behaviors were soon
supported by a value, a norm.
Sience becomes an institution
European nations at war allowed enemy
scientists to cross their borders freely in
pursuit of knowledge.
In 1780, Reverend Samuel Williams of
Harvard University got permission from the
Massachusetts legislature to observe a solar
eclipse, predicted for 27 October, on an island
off the coast, across Penobscot Bay.
Science and safe passage …
The speaker of the Massachusetts House of
Representatives, John Hancock, wrote to the
commander of the British forces, saying:
“Though we are politically enemies, yet with
regard to science it is presumable we shall not
dissent from the practice of civilized people in
promoting it.”
The appeal worked. Williams got his free
From Newton to Rousseau
Physics and social science were developed at
about the same time, and on the same
philosophical basis, by two friends, Isaac
Newton and John Locke (1632–1704).
A formal program for applying the scientific
method to the study of humanity would come
200 years later from Auguste Comte, ClaudeHenri de Saint-Simon, Adolphe Quételet, and
John Stuart Mill.
Locke: the rules of science apply equally to
the study of celestial bodies and to human
behavior .
Essay Concerning Human Understanding : we
cannot see everything, and we cannot record
perfectly what we see, so some knowledge
will be closer to the truth than will other
Voltaire, Condorcet, and Rousseau
Descartes, Galileo, and Locke set the stage
for the eighteenth-century Enlightenment and
the development of social science.
Voltaire (François Marie Arouet, 1694–1778),
following Newton’s principles, proposed a
science to uncover the laws of history.
This was to be a science that could be
applied to human affairs and enlightened
those who governed so that they might
govern better.
Prediction of the behavior of planets
might be more accurate than prediction
of human behavior, but both predictions
should be based on better and better
observation, measurement, and reason.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Argued that humanity had started out in a
state of grace, characterized by equality of
relations, but that civilization, with it’s
agriculture and commerce, had corrupted
humanity and lead to slavery, taxation, and
other inequalities.
Rousseau was not, however, a raving
romantic. He held that the state embodied
humanity’s efforts, through a social contract,
to control the evils brought on by civilization.
The Enlightenment philosophers, from Bacon
to Rousseau, produced a philosophy that
focused on the use of knowledge in service to
the improvement of humanity, or at least to
the amelioration of its pain.
The idea that science and reason could lead
humanity toward perfection seems naïve
today but …
Enlightenment and revolution
These ideas were part of the American
and French revolutions and are
reflected in the the writings of Thomas
Paine (1737–1809) and Thomas
Jefferson (1743–1826).
“We hold these truths to be self-evident . . .”
Auguste Comte (1798–1857)
Argued that the production of
knowledge had developed in three
(1) religion (capricious gods);
(2) metaphysics (essences);
(3) positive knowledge, based on reason
and observation.
Comte’s writings
The System of Positive Philosophy (1830–
1842) and The System of Positive Polity
There are, he claimed, “laws as well defined
for the development of the human species as
for the fall of a stone.”
Comte argued for the development of a
science of society.
John Stuart Mill on positivism 1866
“Whoever regards all events as parts of a
constant order, each one being the invariable
consequent of some antecedent condition, or
combination of conditions, accepts fully the
Positive mode of thought.”
“All theories in which the ultimate standard of
institutions and rules of actions was the
happiness of mankind, and observation and
experience the guides . . . are entitled to the
name Positive.”
Positivism gets a bad reputation
Comte, his mentor Henri de Saint-Simon
(1760–1825), and their followers
envisioned an elite class of philosophers
who, with support from the state, would
direct all education and advise the
The government would be composed of
capitalists “whose dignity and
authority,” Mill explained, “are to be in
the ratio of the degree of generality of
their conceptions and operations—
bankers at the summit, merchants next,
then manufacturers, and agriculturalists
at the bottom.”
Comte proposed his own religion; condemned
the study of planets that were not visible to
the naked eye; proposed that only men be
educated; advocated burning most books.
“As his thoughts grew more extravagant,” Mill
tells us, Comte’s “self-confidence grew more
outrageous. The height it ultimately attained
must be seen, in his writings, to be believed.”
Comte’s acolytes are gone, but the word
positivism still carries the taint of his ego.
The activist legacy of Comte’s positivism
Despite Comte’s excesses, his main ideas
continue to motivate many social scientists.
(1) The scientific method is the surest way to
produce knowledge about the natural world.
(2) Scientific knowledge is effective – it lets
us control nature, from the weather to buying
(3) Effective knowledge can be used to
improve human lives.
The mastery-of-nature metaphor
Some people are very uncomfortable with this
“mastery over nature” metaphor.
But few people would give up the material
benefits of science.
Over-prescription of antibiotics leads to drugresistant bacteria. Will we stop using
antibiotics? Or will we rely on more science to
fight the new bacteria?
The same principle applies to air conditioning
and its consequences.
Try getting people in Florida to give up air
conditioning one day in the summer, and
you’ll find out in a hurry about the weakness
of ideology compared to the power of
creature comforts.
If running air conditioners pollutes the air or
uses up fossil fuel, we’ll rely (we hope) on
more science to solve those problems, too.
Technology and Science
Ask people to list “the major contributions
that science has made to humanity” and
there is strong consensus: cures for diseases,
computers, satellite telecommunications …
Ask people to list “the major contributions
that the social and behavioral sciences have
made to humanity” and you get a long silence
and a raggedy list, with no consensus.
Effective social science
But social science is serious in terms of
control over nature.
Understanding the stimulus-response
mechanism in humans makes the treatment
and management of phobias possible, but it
also brought us attack ads in politics and Joe
Social science gave us state lotteries (taxes
on people who are bad at math) and social
Social Security
Otto von Bismarck asked his minister of
finance for a pension plan for retired German
Based on sound social science data, the
minister suggested that 65 would be just the
right age for retirement.
At that time, the average life expectancy in
Germany was under 60 and would not reach
65 until 1955.
In1934, life expectancy in the
U.S. for men was still under 65.
Today, with life expectancy close to 80,
social science data are part of the
political process to determine how
much leisure time people will have, and
what kinds of tax structures are needed
to support a medical system that caters
to the needs of 90-somethings.
Social science failures
School busing to achieve racial integration
was based on exemplary science, but no one
anticipated the reaction, called white flight,
in which whites abandoned cities for suburbs,
driving the inner cities into poverty as the tax
base went down.
The list of failures in the physical and
biological sciences is equally impressive:
alchemy, cold fusion …
Important lessons in all this
(1) Science isn’t perfect but it isn’t going
away because it’s so effective.
(2) The social and behavioral sciences are
much more powerful than most people think
they are.
(3) The power of social science, like that of
all sciences, comes from the same source.
(4) Effective knowledge in any science can be
used to enhance or degrade our lives.
Understanding begins with questions about
how things work.
Do good fences really make good neighbors?
Why do women earn less, on average, for the
same work as men in most industrialized
Why is Barbados’s birth rate falling faster than
Saudi Arabia’s?
Why is there such a high rate of alcoholism on
Native American reservations?
Why do nation states, from Italy to Kenya,
almost universally discourage people from
maintaining minority languages?
Why do public housing programs often wind
up as slums? If advertising can get children
hooked on cigarettes, why is public service
advertising so ineffective in lowering the
incidence of high-risk sex among
The reaction against positivism
Ferdinand C. S. Schiller (1864–1937):
since the method and contents of
science are the products of human
thought, reality and truth could not be
“out there” to be found, as positivists
assume, but must be made up by
human beings.
Wilhelm Dilthey (1833–1911)
Argued that the methods of the physical
sciences were inappropriate for the
study of human beings.
Human beings live in a web of
meanings that they spin themselves. To
study humans, he argued, we need to
understand those meanings.
This humanist argument goes back to
Protagoras’ (485–410 bce) dictum:
“man is the measure of all things” –
truth is decided by human judgment.
Humanism has been historically at odds
with the philosophy of knowledge
represented by science.
Humanists do not deny the
effectiveness of science for the study of
nonhuman objects, but emphasize the
uniqueness of humanity and the need
for a different (that is, nonscientific)
method for studying human beings.
Similarly, scientists do not deny the
inherent value of humanistic
To explore whether King Lear is to be
pitied as a pathetic leader or admired as
a successful one is an exercise in
seeking humanistic knowledge.
The answer to the question cannot
possibly be achieved by the scientific
method, but examining the question
and producing many possible answers
leads to insight about the human
Humanism and subjectivity
Humanism sometimes means a commitment
to subjectivity – to using our own feelings,
values, and beliefs to achieve insight into the
nature of human experience.
Trained subjectivity is the foundation of
clinical disciplines, like psychology, as well as
the foundation of participant observation
ethnography, the basis of all cultural
anthropology. It isn’t something apart from
social science.
Humanism and uniqueness
Humanism sometimes means an
appreciation of the unique in human
Writing a story about the thrill or the pain
of giving birth, about surviving hand-tohand combat, about living with AIDS – or
writing someone else’s story for them, as
ethnographers often do – are the activities
of a natural science of experience.
My own view is that we need more, not
less, science, including anthropology, to
weaken false ideologies – racism,
sexism, ethnic nationalism.
History of anthropology
Anthropology developed in France,
England, and Germany and from the
beginning, there was tension between
scientists and humanists.
In the 19th century, this split played out
between those who wanted to focus on
culture and those who wanted to focus
on biology – between those who
wanted to study the diversity of human
behavior and thought across the world
and those who were more interested in
the diversity of the human form across
the world.
Racial thinking
This reflected racial thinking, an ancient
explanation of differences in culture and
people who are shaped and colored so
differently from us (whether us was
ancient Chinese or ancient Greek or 19th
century Europe) must practice their
different ways of life because of those
physical differences.
Racial thinking remains with us today,
though the arguments have gotten
more sophisticated and, as a
consequence, more dangerous.
More about this later in the course. For
now: there is no evidence that
differences in people’s values or
behaviors are in any way caused by
differences in their genes at the
individual or the population level.
Slavery and anthropology
The Society for the Observers of Man was
founded in France in 1799 by “a union of
naturalists and medical men” to promote the
study of natural history.
They mounted a three-year expedition to
what would become Australia and the
surrounding islands. Among the scientific
crew were a couple of anthropologists whose
duty it was to carry out measurement of
bodies and customs.
The Aborigines Protection Society was
founded in London in 1838.
England abolished the slave trade in 1807
and slavery in 1833; Sweden did so in 1813;
Spain in 1821.
In France, the Ethnological Society of Paris
was founded in 1839 as a scientific, rather
than as a philanthropic institution. A similar
group was founded in New York.
In Paris, Paul Broca (1824–1880) tells us that
the naturalists and the humanists divided
along predictable lines: for abolition of slavery
and neutral – just the facts.
When France finally abolished slavery in the
mid-19th century, the Ethnological Society of
Paris collapsed.
In New York, according to Broca, the
Ethnological Society of New York went on,
consumed with the debate about slavery.
The Anthropological Society of Paris
was founded in Paris in 1859 where
humanists and scientists might voice
differences of opinion and to present
data on the accumulating evidence
about the cultural and biological
diversity of humankind.
The Ethnological Society of London was
founded in London in 1843 – by as a
breakaway faction of the Society for the
Protection of Aborigines – in order to
maintain a political stand and blocked
the acceptance of naturalists.
The Anthropological Society of London was
founded in 1864 for those who rejected the
political activism of the Ethnological Society.
In 1868, Thomas Huxley became the
president of the Ethnological Society – which
made having two groups unnecessary.
They merged in 1871 as the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland,
the name it retains today.
From 1839 to 1871, while British
anthropology was thrashing itself into a
series of disciplines, American
anthropologists were gathering data
about American Indians.
Slavery was the political issue on both
continents, but the need for data
remained a constant as well.
In Europe, gathering data about the
diversity of human cultures required
long expeditions – in the day of sailing
ships, with month-long crossings of the
Atlantic and no Internet cafes.
In the U.S., scholars had to go no
further than the remnants of American
Indian communities to find what was,
to them, exotic kinship systems, foods,
marriage customs, child-rearing
practices, ways of acting in war, and so
While the Europeans invented
anthropological field research, they did
increasingly little of it because of
political obstacles. The countries were
at war with one another over colonial
expansion rights.
Unilinear evolutionism
After Darwin, the idea of evolution swept the
scientific world.
Lewis Henry Morgan (1818–1881) and others
sought schemes to account for the diversity
of human customs across the world.
In the spirit of the time, they assumed that
there must be some universal evolutionary
sequence that mirrored the universal
biological sequence that was emerging for
Savagery, barbarism, and civilization
They assumed that Europeans were at the
top of some cultural evolutionary ladder.
All peoples went through the same
evolutionary phases to get from simple to
The details of the schemes varied, but the
idea was the same: savagery, barbarism, and
The level of any society was measured
in terms of how closely it matched
Western Europe in key areas of custom:
religion, kinship, and economic and
political behavior.
So: at the end of the 19th century…
Comte’s followers trying to forge a
nonmetaphysical science of society.
The Enlightenment idea of progress and the
hoped-for role of science in human progress.
Darwin’s solution to the question of biological
Studies of jurisprudence, history, economics
as the classical basis of modern society.
The end of unilinear evolution
Assumptions: mass marriage and no idea of
what caused paternity.
This led to tracing descent and the distribution of
property through women.
But there was also female infanticide because
of the need for physical security that men
provide in the context of an assumed war-ofall-against-all social environment.
Female infanticide led to bride capture and, in
some cases, polyandry.
The discovery of fatherhood led to polygyny
and the takeover by men of economics and
politics, even where matriliny prevailed in
Cousin marriage and bride capture were
explained by the assumed shortage of brides
and the need to maximize food production in
H/G societies.
Other strange customs were explained as
Edward Westermarck’s challenge
1891: Westermarck publishes the History of
Human Marriage.
All combinations of marriage customs exist in
all levels of society.
The idea of universal, historical evolutionary
schemes, was crushed.
Cultural evolutionary schemes of different
stripes went on until the 1920s, but in the
U.S., at least, it died.
Franz Boas 1858-1942
1889: Boas comes to the U.S. and is
appointed to the first chair of anthropology,
at Clark University. Moves to Columbia
University in 1899. Alfred Kroeber graduates
in 1901.
Historical particularism – kinship
terminologies and marriage customs could
diffuse anywhere in the world, as new words
do in languages.
Historical particularism
The real work of anthropology, then,
according to Boas, was the historical
reconstruction and the recording of the
different cultures as faithfully as
British functionalism 1910-1930
Bronislaw Malinowski and A. R.
Radcliffe-Brown promote functionalist
explanations for cultural diversity.
The biological model: People have basic
needs; the institutions of society meet
those needs.
The structural model
Societies are organisms and institutions
adapt to those needs.
Both are part of a revolt against both
evolutionism and historical
Structural functionalism
Auguste Comte and Emile Durkheim: social
realities are separate from biological and
psychological realities and deserve their own
study, on their own terms.
A. R. Radcliffe-Brown took this up and
focused on the whole social system and its
needs rather than on the needs of individuals.
Institutions are functional when they serve to
perpetuate the whole social system, and
dysfunctional when they don’t.
People in this scheme were like molecules in
a system.
The molecules could be replaced by functionally
similar ones that played similar roles in service to
the longevity of the organism, and the proper
object of study, therefore was society itself.
Radcliffe-Brown rejected what he called
fanciful reconstructions of institutions or
customs – like where religious symbols come
Malinowski’s and Boas’s greatest contributions were their ethnographic
Malinowski in the Trobriands
Boas in Alaska and the NW Coast of N.A.
Manlinowski’s books (The Sexual Life of
Savages, Coral Gardens and Their Magic,
and The Argonauts of the Western Pacific)
are still in print.
Teleological reasoning
Functionalism is an excellent model for
fieldwork and for understanding how
things work.
But it is inadequate for explaining the
diversity of cultural forms because of its
teleological reasoning.
Cultural materialism
Cultural materialism: This paradigm holds
that culture and social institutions are shaped
by infrastructural conditions.
Cultural materialists argue that the structural
components of society – including the
economy and governance – ultimately are
shaped by the infrastructure.
Agriculture was selected for, in the history of
human experience, by peoples who found it
more advantageous.
Cultural materialism is based on the
principle of the priority of the
infrastructure and differs from Marx’s
materialist paradigm by including the
needs of reproduction, as well as the
needs of production in the mix of things
that shape structural and superstructural components of society.
Marxism is a materialist philosophy –
the base of society, including the means
of production, continually feed back into
the infrastructure and then the
structure of society.
Cultural materialism places the mode of
production in the infrastructure itself.
It also is not based on the Marxist
ideology against capitalism. Cultural
materialists see capitalism as an
emergent phenomenon, based on
changes in the infrastructure around the
Against materialism: structuralism
Structuralists, like Claude Levi-Strauss, argue that
culture is part of the human brain and that there are
fundamental, binary oppositions: hot-cold, malefemale, culture-nature, raw-cooked.
Binary oppositions are reflected in cultural
The job of anthropology is to analyze expressions of
culture and to discover the underlying schema.
Cultural schemas are contained in kinship, language,
art, and other expressive behavior.
Structuralists like Radcliffe-Brown begin with
the idea that the whole is more than the
From a materialist perspective, structuralism
is a plan for studying one component of
society, the mental superstructure.
Materialists and structuralists are both
concerned with understanding myth, but they
have different perspectives on first principles.
Symbolic anthropology
Symbolic and interpretive anthropology
is most associated with Clifford Geertz.
The goal of ethnography, says Geertz, is
to understand the cultural context that
produces symbolic behaviors, like a
purposeful wink.
Geertz on winking:
What makes symbolic behaviors
meaningful to members of a culture?
Beliefs must be understood in context –
in terms of a cultural system that gives
meaning to both everyday events and
extraordinary events.
It follows that action is driven by meaning.
The materialist paradigm is inappropriate for
this level of analysis.
Symbolic analysis is often applied to religion,
myths, and performance, but it can be
applied to any outcome, behavioral or
artifactual, and to organizational structures.
Postmodernism is a critique of science as a
so-called project of modernity.
Two components to the modernist
perspective: one is epistemological and the
other is ideological.
Like the humanists who rejected 19th century
positivism, post-modernists assert that our
essential subjectivity makes truth elusive.
The critical stance
Furthermore, science has worked
against the legitimate aspirations of
oppressed people.
Jean Baudrillard, Jean-François Lyotard
and others argue that we are in postmodern times – a time when meaning
has been destroyed.
Today, anthropology is a very complex
Medical anthropology, ecological
anthropology, political anthropology,
economic anthropology
The various paradigms and
epistemological perspectives are
represented in these fields.
Religion and science have both failed to
provide clear answers to questions in which
we are all interested – not just questions
about life and death itself, but questions of
the moment.
Post-modernism and relativity: As a
consequence, people look for answers
anywhere they can.
The dilemma of relativism remains.
Next time – biological anthropology
Morgan studied the Iroquois himself in
the 1860s and surveyed the Indian
agents across the country for
information on the kinship terminologies
of native peoples in America.

Why Conduct Qualitative Research?