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3 - Disciplines

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 December 2009

W. C. McGrew
Affiliation:
Miami University
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Summary

Some of the most interesting phenomena defy the boundaries imposed upon them by academicians. Instead, these entities send out tentacles that cross disciplinary divides, or bridge even greater epistemological barriers, such as art versus science. Thus, language engages more than linguists, intelligence more than psychometricians. Culture is one of these phenomena, and its cross-disciplinary (but not necessarily interdisciplinary) nature can be seen as a mixed blessing.

At least four traditional academic disciplines have a significant intellectual stake in the concept of culture (McGrew, 1998). Each of them asks different sorts of questions and uses different sorts of methods to answer them (see Table 3.1). Anthropology mostly asks ‘what’ questions, addressing issues of phenomenology. Archaeology mostly asks ‘when’ questions, addressing issues of history. Psychology mostly asks ‘how’ questions, addressing issues of mechanism. Zoology mostly asks ‘why’ questions, addressing issues of adaptation. If culture is to be explained, then arguably all four disciplines must make their contributions (McGrew, 2001a, 2003b). The aim of this chapter is to explore what those contributions have been and might be, especially in cultural primatology.

ANTHROPOLOGY

Anthropology invented the culture concept, but no longer owns it. With its inception in the nineteenth century came priority, and so jurisdiction for anthropology (Kuper, 1999). Culture remained the core concept of the discipline for at least a century, and even now, most of the membership of the American Anthropological Association label themselves as cultural anthropologists, outnumbering all other sub- fields combined.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Cultured Chimpanzee
Reflections on Cultural Primatology
, pp. 31 - 49
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2004

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  • Disciplines
  • W. C. McGrew, Miami University
  • Book: The Cultured Chimpanzee
  • Online publication: 29 December 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511617355.004
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  • Disciplines
  • W. C. McGrew, Miami University
  • Book: The Cultured Chimpanzee
  • Online publication: 29 December 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511617355.004
Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • Disciplines
  • W. C. McGrew, Miami University
  • Book: The Cultured Chimpanzee
  • Online publication: 29 December 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511617355.004
Available formats
×