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Chagnon's new book - "Noble Savages" by Jay Knott (03/23/13)       ⇌ (Civilization and anti-Civilization)       

"My career began with the uneasy feeling that cultural anthropology was one of the last bastions of opposition to Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection."

Napoleon Chagnon has just released his memoir. It describes two fierce tribes amongst which he spent his career - the Yanomamö and anthropologists.

More about Chagnon's disputes with anti-civilization anthropology - http://f.acetio.us/wildcat/darkness.html

More about the paradox that "anti-civilization" is the establishment in academic anthropology - http://www.pacificaforum.org/leviathan-2-0---a-review-of-steven-pinker-s-the-better-angels-of-our-nature

In the review of Steven Pinker's latest book, above, I point out that the "anti-civilization" trend's allegation that academica is opposed to it is misguided. The trend in the anthropology establishment, especially in America, under the influence of Franz Boas, Margaret Mead, Marshall Sahlins, etc., is to tell us that the "noble savages" were corrupted by civilization - the Rousseauian view.

It is people like Chagnon, who defend a more Hobbesian position, who find themselves up against the establishment. He spells out the dispute: his research up the Orinoco suggested two controversial ideas: "The first was that warfare was common among the Yanomamö and that it was apparently not caused by capitalist exploitation, nor was it a reaction to oppression by Western colonial powers".

The second was that one of the main reasons for fighting was to acquire more women.

Altogether, Chagnon saw his findings as confirming Darwinism. This is unfashionable, to say the least. He sees the state as the result of the gradual growth of headman authority in larger and larger units, their size driven by competition with neighbors. This is of course debatable.

"For reasons I've never understood, 'science' and 'Marxism' were linked together"



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