Interpretation and Vision: A Critique of Cryptopositivism

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Essay Excerpt

The present article is not in the main a critique of positivism, and I actually have great respect for some straight forward positivists (e.g., D'Andrade's psychocultural analyses, Lewis Binford's ingenious correlations). What the present essay does critique, as polemically as I am capable of being, is a set of self-proclaimed antipositivists who combine two things: (1) programmatic, ideological attacks on "positivism" and (2) practices in research and teaching that are in themselves positivistic in ways that will be set forth below. In extreme cases the practice of the self-proclaimed antipositivistsis more positivistic than that of the a vowed positivists under attack; it is certainly more positivistic than many kinds of post-positivistic, trans-positivistic, or simply apositivistic experimentation. What I am attacking, then, is the logical inconsistencies and the hypocrisy of the cryptopositivistic variant of interpretive, hermeneutic, symbolic, and many "postmodern" approaches. (Friedrich, 212)

About the Author

Paul Friedrich is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Chicago. (PhD, Yale 1957) Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, of Linguistics, and in the Committee on Social Thought, and Associate in Slavics, has done fieldwork in southwestern Mexico, South India, and among Russians. Other research includes the Aphrodite myth in Ancient Greece, and Proto-Indo-European, and American poetry. His current work is divided between anthropology and literary studies (e.g., Dostoevsky, Thoreau) and theoretical problems in ethnography, poetics, and world poetry. (Retired 6/96; still teaching)

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