The Dialectics of Deeds and Words: Or Anti-the-Antis (and the Anti-Antis)

Essay Excerpt

Finally, in saying that reality is in part a cultural construct, one must remain aware that this construct is not to be confused with reality itself, which often gives us painful reminders of its truth. Beyond the prisms of false consciousness through which we myopically peer, there is indeed a real world, and anthropology still deals with our place in it. But we humans are not born as wet clay, plastic and malleable; humans are constituted, and we bend the world in our image. As a sapient species born into society with a disposition toward language and certain modes of thought, our feet are mired in dung, but our heads-our minds-reach upward to the stars. This eternal contradiction is the joy and centerpiece of our humanity, and the anthropological mission is to study and describe, in all its richness, the work of life.  (Murphy, 336)

About the Author

Robert Francis Murphy was a distinguished anthropologist and professor of anthropology at Columbia University in New York City, from the early 1960s to 1990. His field work included studies of the Munduruku (Mundurucu) people of the Amazon and the Tuareg people of the Sahara. He has since died on October 8, 1990. 

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