The Human Enterprise: A Critical Introduction to Anthropological Theory

By James Lett | Go to book overview

7
The Importance
of the Emic/Etic
Distinction

Most introductory textbooks in anthropology describe the discipline as "holistic" and "comparative." The anthropological perspective is holistic because it tries to examine the whole of human experience. That is, unlike political scientists, sociologists, or economists, anthropologists try to look beyond political, social, or economic behavior to the interplay among all these factors of human life and to see the connections between them. Of course, anthropologists attempt to incorporate many more factors into their "holistic" analyses, including biological, ecological, linguistic, historical, and ideological variables. The anthropological perspective is comparative because it seeks its information and tests its explanations among all of the prehistorical, historical, and contemporary cultures to which anthropologists have access.

The anthropological approach may not always be holistic and comparative in practice, but anthropology is the only discipline among the social sciences that has established holism and comparison as ideals to be pursued. As a result, anthropology has been the only social science

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The Human Enterprise: A Critical Introduction to Anthropological Theory
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • About the Book and Author iii
  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Prologue: The Challenge of Theory 1
  • Part One The Philosophy Of Science 7
  • 2- The Activity Of Science 23
  • 3- The Concept Of Scientific Paradigms 31
  • Part Two The Anthropological Perspective 39
  • 4- The Science Of Anthropology 41
  • 5- The Domain Of Anthropological Inquiry 48
  • 6- The Concept Of Culture 54
  • 7- The Importance Of the Emic/Etic Distinction 61
  • 8- The Culture Of Anthropology 68
  • Part Three The Wisdom Of Eclecticism 75
  • 9- The Range Of Alternatives 77
  • 11- The Paradigm Of Structuralism 100
  • 12- The Paradigm Of Symbolic Anthropology 110
  • 13- The Question Of Paradigmatic Commitment 121
  • Part Four The Clash Of Paradigms 127
  • 14- The Sound And the Fury 129
  • 15- The Image Of Limited Good 134
  • 16- The Intractable Sacred Cow 141
  • Epilogue 153
  • Bibliography 157
  • Index 171
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