Ecology, Meaning, and Religion

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Ecology, Meaning, and Religion

Author: Roy A. Rappaport

"Two enterprises have proceeded in anthropology since ts earliest days. One, objective in its aspirations and inspired by biological disciplines, seeks explanation and is concerned to discover laws and causes. The other, subjective in its orientation and influenced by philosophy, linguistics, and the humatities, attempts interpretation and seeks to elucidate meanings. I take any raditcal separation of the two to be misguided, for the relationship between tem, with all of its difficulty, ambiguity, and tension, is a reflection of, or metaphor for, the condition of a species that lives in terms of meanings in a physical world devoid of intrinsic meaning but subject to causal law. The concept of adaptatioon when applied to human society must take account of meaning as well as cause, and of the complex dynamic of their relationship." -from the book.


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"While many anthropologists of various epistemological persuasions would perhaps dismiss such topics as the business of priests rather than of scientists, Rappaport correctly perceives that the problem of man's religious consciousness is not only a legitimate object of anthropological study, it might well be the most critical test to which any cultural theory can be put. In Rappaport's essays, we see this test applied with studious logic, empirical relevance, and consistent regard to the naturalistic assumptions of ecological and evolutionary theory."
-Donal F. Tuzin, Ph.D. in American Anthropologist

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