inane, sterile and pernicious!

So, mindful of the rather patchy nature of my grasp on anthropological theory, I have been dutifully skimming plowing through the RAT. Ye supernatural figures and diminutive teleosts, this book is a marvel of convoluted and exclamatory verbiage. Using jargon = teh suck.

I have found a couple of gems of anti-evolutionary sentiment, though. This is the kind of social evolutionism involving grade-scales of savagery-barbarism-civilisation, dreamt up by Morgan and Tylor and co before the Boasian-influenced relativists shook that all apart. The funny thing is that nearly a century later, some social anthropologists would (I'm sure) take the same anti-evolutionist stance towards modern cultural evolutionary theory, although they might not express it in such amusing terms.

I leave Harris's intro sentences as a fine example of his love affair with the the "-ism". 

The most splendid example of this debauchery in the ranks of the higher empiricists is that of Bertholdt Laufer. I quote in extenso, because it represents the nadir of the negativism and antiscientism which was associated with historical particularism. 

"The theory of cultural evolution, to my mind the most inane, sterile and pernicious theory ever conceived in the history of science (a cheap toy for the amusement of big children), is duly disparaged… culture cannot be forced into the straightjacket of any theory whatever it may be, nor can it be reduced to chemical or mathematical formulae. Nature has no laws, so culture has none. It is as vast and free as the ocean, throwing its waves in all directions…" [Laufer 1918] (p. 293)

I think I shouldn't be as amused as I am. Cos Nature has no laws, you know. 

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