Archaeology

Read e-book online Thinking from Things: Essays in the Philosophy of PDF

By Alison Wylie

During this long-awaited compendium of latest and newly revised essays, Alison Wylie explores how archaeologists comprehend what they recognize. interpreting the heritage and method of Anglo-American archaeology, Wylie places the tumultuous debates of the final thirty years in historic and philosophical standpoint.

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Download e-book for kindle: Thinking from Things: Essays in the Philosophy of by Alison Wylie

During this long-awaited compendium of latest and newly revised essays, Alison Wylie explores how archaeologists be aware of what they recognize. analyzing the heritage and technique of Anglo-American archaeology, Wylie places the tumultuous debates of the final thirty years in historic and philosophical viewpoint.

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Extra resources for Thinking from Things: Essays in the Philosophy of Archaeology

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Although these earlier episodes of debate are rarely acknowledged, they prefigure the controversy about the New Archaeology that erupted almost as soon as its programmatic core had been articulated; the unfolding of these debates is the focus of essays included in parts III and IV. Part II closes with two previously published essays. The first (chapter 5) is an analysis of the philosophical debate generated by arguments for scientific realism, a theory of science that, I argue, offers a much more congenial framework for the New Archaeology than does Hempelian positivism.

Salmon 1982; Levin 1976). What made postprocessual arguments so contentious a challenge to the New Archaeology was the fear that if the ideational dimensions of the past are in fact radically inaccessible to scientific modes of investigation, then a commitment to understand them will force a return to the speculative induction that a resolutely scientific archaeology was meant to displace. Indeed, the most confrontational postprocessualists did endorse precisely this conclusion. They insisted that there was, in effect, nothing to lose by expanding the scope of inquiry to include even the most elusive aspects of the past; the scientific ambitions of the New Archaeology are unrealizable in any case.

Smith 1977: 611), that link surviving elements of the archaeological record to the past events and conditions that produced them. In this archaeologists necessarily rely on auxiliary hypotheses—various forms of background and collateral knowledge—to establish the significance of archaeological data as evidence (M. Salmon 1975). By 1977 Lewis Binford had taken the point that archaeological data stands as evidence only under interpretation: “the scientist must use conceptual tools to evaluate alternative conceptual tools that have been advanced regarding the ways the world works” (1977b: 3).

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