Anthropology in the United States - When Dialogue is the Discipline:
A Multi-Level Evolutionary Consideration of Knowledge Production ?
Dan T.A. Eisenberg
In the United States anthropology is a field with a history of applying a holistic integration of multiple perspectives in the study of humans. Perhaps as a microcosm of interdisciplinary work more generally, despite some successes, this integration has often not succeeded. There exists much antagonism inside anthropology departments, represented by some of the founding institutions splintering into different more specialized departments. Both the successes and failures of anthropology and interdisciplinary work more generally may be productively understood through an evolutionary view of the production of knowledge. Here I apply the fundamentals of evolutionary theory to larger and smaller groups than the individual to describe how science works. The faults and assets of both multi-level selection theory and the social sciences may be understood through this evolutionary view of knowledge production. I suggest that both often tell emotionally compelling stories that can cloud our logical judgment and that both attempt to integrate to higher level analyses at the risk of ignoring the facts they build upon at lower levels. To ameliorate this situation I suggest a relentless empiricism at all levels of analysis including more effort placed on the development of measures of the subjects of interest. Finally, I urge the reader to view the worth of this theory according to how much it inspires testable hypothesizes and furthers the course of understanding the world.