Quote: Marshall Sahlins on Claude Levi-Strauss

A couple of years ago, the AAA solicited comments about Claude Levi-Strauss from Marshall Sahlins: “On the anthropology of Claude Levi-Strauss”.

Finally, one finds more than one suggestion in Levi-Strausss works that since anthropologists are of the same intellectual nature as the peoples they study, they have possibilities of knowing the cultures of others that are in some respects more powerful than the ways natural scientists know physical objects. The more one learns about the composition of rocks, the less they are like anything in human experience. Unlike the way rocks will always appear to us, science shows there are spaces between and within the molecules, and beyond that, at the level of quantum mechanics our knowledge defies all common sense of space and time. But if natural science starts off with the experientially familiar and ends in the humanly remote, anthropology works the other way around. One might begin with something distant or even obnoxious to us, say cannibalism in the Fiji Islands, and yet end by determining it to be logical.