Anthropologists who are committed to holism must come to terms with the risks of making mistakes. In this connection, warning students that the findings of science are provisional and subject to various distortions and biases may help to relieve some of the angst associated with holistic perspectives. Another point to be kept in mind is that the misinformation transmitted through a holistic text or introductory class is not likely to be as remote from current expert opinion as the usual non-academic sources of knowledge about biocultural evolution, such as creationism and New Age necromancy. Bear in mind that only a very small percentage of students take introductory courses in anthropology in order to prepare for graduate school; the great majority are only passing through, and one anthropology course is all they will ever take. Indeed, that one anthropology course may be the only course in the social sciences they will ever take. Given the facts that anthropology has so much to say, that its knowledge is vital for our ability to live as informed and responsible citizens of the world, and that there is so little time and space in which to say it, our students deserve to have us try to give them the most holistic view possible.Amen.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Marvin Harris on holistic anthropology
From Theories of Culture in Postmodern Times, page 139 (Altamira Press 1999):