Answering Daimã's Question

The Ontogeny of an Anthropological Epistemology in Eighteenth-Century Scotland

in Social Analysis
Author: Peter Gow 1
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  • 1 University of St Andrews pgg2@st-andrews.ac.uk
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This article seeks to describe the social preconditions of the emergence of science in Scotland since the Enlightenment and what came to be unknown in the process. It addresses the way in which the geologist James Hutton generated a specific category of 'men of scientific observation' as opposed to 'men of common observation'. In doing so, he, like other Enlightenment thinkers, transformed an existing spatial ordering of social relations into a temporal one. This formed one of the early steps in the development of a genuinely anthropological epistemology, whereby knowledge of the human lies with the 'primitive' other and with his or her knowledge of the world. Anthropology is thus the scientific observation of common observation and, as Lévi-Strauss pointed out, a specific form of common observation.

Social Analysis

The International Journal of Anthropology