Social Structures and Natural SystemsIs a Scientific Assemblage Workable?
Trapped between the caricatured causalities of biological determinism and the sinister abdications of sociological relativism, socio-ecological interdisciplinarity stagnates. It has lost sight of the ambition of a long-term program and no longer works to conduct applied research on the concrete prerequisites for reliable cooperation, despite an accumulation of emergencies. The difficulty lies in the general and prolonged abandonment of necessary procedures under the influence of hidden philosophical presumptions. In the end, ecology, sociology, history, economics, agronomy, etc. are seriously handicapped by the absence of a common epistemology of comparative practice, an absence maintained by the dominant epistemology itself. Social Structures and Natural Systems seeks to demonstrate, with regard to social anthropology and ecology, a scientific compatibility of research subject to methodological requirements that are deductible from the conditions of the existence of science itself. All of this boils down to one observation: this book will be a success if, and only if, it becomes a beginning.
Introduction vii Chapter 1. Non-Negotiable Conditions for a Scientific Stereoscopy 1 1.1. Operating principles against metaphysical principles 2 1.1.1. Ventriloquist philosophy 3 1.1.2. Two materialisms and one idealism: the initial bet of science 8 1.1.3. Ontology: a catch-all concept and a bottomless pit 11 1.2. A “strong agenda” for interdisciplinarity? 17 1.2.1. Popperian demarcation, or exclusion decreed from the outside 17 1.2.2. Scientific self-management and the requirement of symmetry 20 1.2.3. Symmetry and reflexivity in the nature/culture couple 24 1.2.4. Two modes of interdisciplinarity 30 1.3. Materialism in the face of the ideal 34 1.3.1. The illusory sphere of the ideas 35 1.3.2. The three entries on human worlds 41 1.4. The line drawn on the side of science: frame of reference 45 1.4.1. The observation of the facts and the strangeness of mathematics 46 1.4.2. The permanent priority of the frame of reference 53 1.4.3. Scientific clarity and the impurity of scientists 58 1.5. “Reframed” comparison 62 Chapter 2. Relations above All (and Before Any Cause) 69 2.1. The power of bonding: social relations and ecological interactions 71 2.2. The polarity of relationship: domestication between nature and culture 77 2.2.1. The asymmetry of domestication 77 2.2.2. Symmetry and reflexivity in domesticators 84 2.2.3. Original asymmetry and historical symmetries 91 2.3. Relations in a process: the “causes” for the Neolithic 94 2.4. Locks and openings 106 2.4.1. Robert Cresswell’s locks: an analysis tool to be imposed 106 2.4.2. Palm wine and coffee: time is money 109 2.5. The vintage and the expert 113 2.5.1. Hierarchy takes time 115 2.5.2. The curse of the Languedoc vineyard 117 2.5.3. The oenologist, between technocracy and aesthetics 120 Chapter 3. Uncertain Ensembles, Imperfect Cohesion and Disruptive Events 129 3.1. Systems and structures: the search 131 3.1.1. Empirical or autochthonous ensembles 132 3.1.2. The structure and forgotten morphology 135 3.1.3. Systems open to all winds 139 3.1.4. Generalized structuralism, the subject and the event 145 3.2. The undesirable and sterilized event 152 3.2.1. Whitehead versus Braudel 152 3.2.2. The rot-proof event at the source of culture 160 3.3. Events and cohesion in an accelerated Neolithization 165 3.4. The event: a referee for theories? 171 3.5. The forgotten service of the fundamental in favor of the applied 175 Chapter 4. The Spiral of Research: Centrifugal and Centripetal Approaches 179 4.1. Ensembles, scales and frameworks: methodology versus methods 181 4.1.1. The “enriched” scales 181 4.1.2. Inclusions and overlaps among ensembles 184 4.1.3. Edges, ecotones, borders and ruptures 186 4.1.4. Complementarities and competitions 191 4.2. Spiral research: from center to periphery, or the other way around? 194 4.2.1. Centrifugal contrasts and centripetal understandings 195 4.2.2. The construction of the ecological niche 203 4.2.3. Constructions and mosaics 207 4.3. Solidary comparison and interdisciplinary 213 Conclusion 219 References 225 Index 241
Georges Guille-Escuret is Director of Research at the CNRS and a Researcher at the Norbert Elias Center in Marseille, France. He is a doctor of animal biology and social anthropology and has published more than a dozen books where the cooperation between the social sciences and ecology is regularly presented in the line of sight.
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