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Boyer, L.B. (1977). Psychological Anthropology: Edited by Thomas R. Williams. The Hague and Paris: Mouton Publishers, 1975. 655 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 46:705-707.

(1977). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 46:705-707

Psychological Anthropology: Edited by Thomas R. Williams. The Hague and Paris: Mouton Publishers, 1975. 655 pp.

Review by:
L. Bryce Boyer

Any reader who expects that this book will coherently outline the relationship of anthropological thinking to the subdiscipline of culture and personality and that it will provide a critical look at current viewpoints and orientations is likely to be profoundly disappointed.

The book consists of a melange of twenty-eight papers chosen from over three hundred which were submitted to the Ninth International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, held in Chicago in 1973. Selected for inclusion without any statement by the editor as to why these articles were chosen, they are arranged in six untitled groups. Professor Williams, with perhaps undue modesty, has eschewed the obligatory challenge to state clearly some unifying theme and critical purpose and to draft a coherent perspective. Instead, he has opted for a questionable and ultimately contradictory approach to his chore.

I decided that I would proceed in my tasks through emphasizing the general doctrine of THE UNITY OF SCIENCE. This doctrine notes that all of the separate activities of scientists, however disparate their immediate purposes and aims may be, eventually do mutually support and sustain each other. I concluded … that I would not attempt to become … a judge of what does and does not constitute the contemporary field and "acceptable" research. Rather, I chose to proceed from a general philosophical position that given some minimal criteria for selecting papers my choices would finally support and sustain each other (p. 26).

Unfortunately, given the current state of the philosophy of the social sciences, which includes startlingly contradictory viewpoints, this "cumulative theory" of knowledge constitutes merely a "profession of faith" and the orientations of many of the chapters are latently or overtly contradictory.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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