By Robert Feleppa
This ebook surveys numerous theoretical controversies in anthropology that revolve round reconciling the target description of tradition with the impression of inquirer pursuits and conceptions. It relates them to discussions by way of fans of W.V. Quine who see the issues of anthropological inquiry as indicative of conceptual difficulties within the uncomplicated assumptions operative within the self-discipline, and within the research of language commonly. Feleppa bargains a revised view of the character and serve as of translation in anthropology that offers a believable account of the issues that conventional semantics introduces into anthropology, whereas heading off the serious methodological import Quine envisions.
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Extra info for Convention, translation, and understanding: philosophical problems in the comparative study of culture
I view indeterminacy problems as calling for a reconsideration of the character of the translational enterprise and its criteria of success and objectivity. There is, I shall argue, an important difference between the task of an inquirer explaining the significance of symbolic behavior and that of one engaged in non-interpretive explanation. The difference concerns, in part, the rule-governed nature of symbolic behavior, as opposed to the merely law-governed nature of the phenomena studied, say, by a physicist.
4 Essential to Quine's argument are two more points generally acknowledge by anthropologists: (1) The vast majority of translations depend critically on the imposition of linguistic categorizations with which translators and receptor-language speakers are familiar. 5 Page 4 Unfortunately, while Quine's radical indeterminacy thesis provides, as is well and indisputably recognized, valuable and deep insights into the nature of meaningfulness and into various problems of semantics and translation, it seems to have completely "devalued" a number of important insights by anthropologists.
A philosophical-psychological thesis of ''intentionality" complements a number of philosophical programs that give epistemological concerns high priority, insofar as it provides a partial answer to questions as to what and how we know. Its fundamental point is that mental phenomena Page 8 are essentially different in kind from physical phenomena in that the former, and not the latter, are always directed toward intentional (or "inexistent") objects. 11 The objects in question (either the propositions believed or the concepts manifested in them) are not reducible to designated physical objects, relations, or states of affairs, owing, among other things, to the possibility of false belief.