Psychological Anthropology: Approaches to Culture and Personality

Psychological Anthropology: Approaches to Culture and Personality

Psychological Anthropology: Approaches to Culture and Personality

Psychological Anthropology: Approaches to Culture and Personality

Excerpt

The purpose of this volume is twofold. On the one hand, it is an assessment of the up-to-date gains in the field of culture-andpersonality. Each of the contributors tries to achieve comprehensiveness within the scope of his particular assignment. Insofar as possible each brings together materials from diverse sources, from obscure journals to their ow yet unpublished field notes. On the other hand, each of them also attempts to indicate some of the most important problems yet to be tackled. All the contributors outline some of these problems, the hypotheses and methods most relevant to their investigation, and possible solution.

The American tradition in textbooks is that they contain materials from the beaten paths and are exercises in facts and principles generally endorsed by most or all scholars. Such a tradition fails to introduce the student to the vitality of an expanding and exciting discipline. This book is a textbook, but there will be many controversial spots in it. The reader will find no complete agreement among the contributors, nor between the contributors and the editor. This is a text in which differences in facts, theories, and points of view are not only pointed out, but also explored at some length, leading, in some instances, even to almost diametrically contrasting conclusions between the authors.

Another reason for our approach to this text is that, since the subdiscipline of culture-and-personality is only about twenty-five years old, we are severely limited by the availability of wellestablished facts and principles. If we only aim at the beaten paths, then we would have either to confine ourselves to the obvious or have little to say. Culture-and-personality has simply not had the accumulation of scholarly heritage enjoyed by older subdisciplines of the science of man such as archaeology or linguistics.

These two reasons are interrelated. The paucity in culture-andpersonality of beaten paths points to the need for growth. And growth is impossible without strong efforts to explore new and unsure grounds. In an interdisciplinary subject such as ours, exploration of new and unsure grounds will by definition be a major part of its endeavour for years to come.

Throughout this enterprise I am fortunate in having a group of . . .

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