the “facts” never speak for themselves

Uncategorized March 2, 2015

The anthropological observer selects data according to an implicit cultural framework. The “facts” never speak for themselves. You might, when travelling in Africa, describe an event you see as follows: “Bert got into his jeep and drove off.” However, an African tribesmen might describe it very differently: “White man is sucked in by iron monster and is carried away.” Contained in what you take to be a simple neutral account of the facts are all the ingredients of your tacit point of view: that people act freely; that they act intentionally; that machines are inanimate; that they can be made to move; that science differs from magic. When do these implicit presuppositions of yours become explicit? On what common ground can they ever be confronted by those of your African counterpart?

Reuben Abel, Man is the Measure (123)