Complementary Paradigms in Cultural Anthropology

  • Tadeusz Mich Catholic University of America
Keywords: anthropological paradigms, myth, science, interpretation, explanation


Two of the competing ways of knowing in cultural anthropology are the paradigms of interpretation as presented in the work of Clifford Geertz and the scientific model as represented by Roy Rappaport. This article studies the similarities between the two paradigms in anthropology by comparing mythical and scientific ways of interpreting the cosmos with the interpretative and scientific ways of interpreting ways of knowing in anthropology. To this purpose I have selected one version of a creation myth, the Kaypulaquena myth of the Yucuna Indians from the Amazon and one scientific model of interpreting the universe, the Big Bang Theory. The problem I address is how myth and science approach the world. The study focuses on similarities between the Yucuna mythical way of interpreting the world and the Big Bang Theory way of approaching the cosmos. My assumption is that in both paradigms there are similarities in the use of epistemological assumptions and metaphors.


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