From: Keith Henson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Thu 29 Jan 2004 - 02:36:10 GMT
At 08:38 PM 28/01/04 +0200, you wrote:
> > Keith wrote:
> > PS. The critique of social "science" in The Adaptive Mind is devastating.
>who wrote it? A search on Amazon turns up about a dozen different books.
Barkow, J.H./Cosmides, L./Tooby, J., eds. 1992. The Adapted Mind:
Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture. New York/Oxford:
Oxford University Press.
Up this thread on Monday I quoted 3 paragraphs.
There might have been too little white space to make it screen readable.
Begin quote *************
Thus, . . . the social sciences have largely kept themselves isolated from
this crystallizing process of scientific integration.
. . . social scientists . . . have tended to neglect or even reject the
central principle that valid scientific knowledge . . . should be mutually
consistent . . . . In consequence, this insularity is not just an accident.
For many scholars, it has been a conscious, deeply held, and strongly
articulated position . . . . Durkheim, for example, in his Rules of the
Sociological Method, argued at length that social phenomena formed an
autonomous system and could be only explained by other social phenomena
The founders of American anthropology, from Kroeber and Boas to Murdock and
Lowie, were equally united on this point. For Lowie, "the principles of
psychology are as incapable of accounting for the phenomena of culture as
is gravitation to account for architectural styles," and "culture is a
thing sui generis which can be explained only in terms of itself. ... Omnis
cultura ex cultura" (1917/1966, p. 25-26; p. 66).
Murdock, in his influential essay "The science of culture," summed up the
conventional view that culture is "independent of the laws of biology and
psychology" (1932, p. 200).
Remarkably, . . . this doctrine of intellectual isolationism, . . . has
only become more extreme with time. . . . many leading social scientists
now openly call for abandoning the scientific enterprise . . . .
For example, Clifford Geertz advocates abandoning the ground of principled
causal analysis entirely in favor of treating social phenomena as "texts"
to be interpreted just as one might interpret literature:
We should "turn from trying to explain social phenomena by weaving them
into grand textures of cause and effect to trying to explain them by
placing them into local frames of awareness" (1983, p. 6).
Similarly, Edmund Leach rejects scientific explanation as the focus of
"Social anthropology is not, and should not aim to be, a 'science' in the
natural science sense. If anything it is a form of art Social
anthropologists should not see themselves as seekers after objective truth.
..." (Leach, 1982, p. 52).
These positions have a growing following, . . . because they offer new
tools to extricate scholars from the unwelcome encroachments of more
They also free scholars from all of the arduous tasks inherent in the
attempt to produce scientifically valid knowledge: to make it consistent
with other knowledge and to subject it to critical rejection on the basis
of empirical disproof, logical inconsistency, and incoherence.
. . . .
"Not only have the social sciences been unusual in their self-conscious
stance of intellectual autarky but, significantly, they have also been
relatively unsuccessful as sciences.
This disconnection from the rest of science has left a hole in the fabric
of our organized knowledge of the world where the human sciences should be.
After more than a century, the social sciences are still adrift, with an
enormous mass of half -digested observations, . . . expressed in a babel of
incommensurate technical lexicons.
This is accompanied by a growing malaise, so that the single largest trend
is toward rejecting the scientific enterprise as it applies to humans.
We suggest that this lack of progress, this "failure to thrive," has been
caused by the failure of the social sciences to explore or accept their
logical connections to the rest of the body of science-that is, to causally
locate their objects of study inside the larger network of scientific
. . . what should be jettisoned is what we will call the Standard Social
Science Model (SSSM): The consensus view of the nature of social and
cultural phenomena that has served for a century as the intellectual
framework for the organization of psychology and the social sciences and
the intellectual justification for their claims of autonomy from the rest
Progress has been severely limited . . .. In place of the Standard Social
Science Model, there is emerging a new framework that we will call the
Integrated Causal Model.
This alternative framework makes progress possible by accepting and
exploiting the natural connections that exist among all the branches of
science, using them to construct careful analyses of the causal interplay
among all the factors that bear on a phenomenon.
In this alternative framework, nothing is autonomous and all the components
of the model must mesh.
**************** (end quote)
Which is why I make the case that memetics (if it is to be a useful field
of study) must fit seamlessly into the larger frame of evolutionary
psychology/sociobiology just as those fields mesh without a flaw into the
larger frame of evolutionary biology.
This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
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