By George B. Bridgman
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Extra resources for Bridgman's Complete Guide to Drawing From Life: Over 1,000 Illustrations
This is a much more basic and fundamental book: it is about the epistemological foundations of anthropological theory, or the essential nature and ultimate source of anthropological knowledge. My primary concern here is to identify the means or method by which anthropological knowledge can best be achieved. H. Russell Bernard, whose textbook on research methodology is justly celebrated for its cogency and comprehensiveness, has observed that the word "method" has at least three meanings: First, method refers to epistemology, to sets of assumptions about how we acquire knowledge.
And third, method refers to techniques or sets of techniques for collecting and analyzing data [such as participant observation and componential analysis]. (Bernard 1994:168) In the same way, the word "theory" has at least three meanings. First, it refers to epistemology, to questions about the nature and source of knowledge, just as "method" does. , cultural materialism or structuralism). And third, theory refers to specific explanations of particular phenomena (such as the materialist explanation of Aztec cannibalism or the structuralist explanation of Bororo mythology).
It is not, however, my intention to provoke an emotional response from those who may not be predisposed to agree with me. The central premise of this book is that virtually all differences of opinion can ultimately be Page xvii resolved by appeal to the fundamental principles of logic and reason. The fact that I express my convictions in emphatic language does not mean that I fail to recognize the possibility that I could be mistaken. Indeed, I think it is virtually certain that this book will contain errors in analysis that I will eventually discover and regret.