Last night I was at a pub with some people (all anthropologists).
We were having a good time there, and one of us suddenly raised a question; the famous quote "Anthropology is the most humanistic of the sciences and the most scientific of the humanities." is known as Kroeber's, but the source is virtually unknown.
Well... he teaches an introductory anthropology course this term, and tried to check the citation for next lecture. He could find out the phrase in Eric Wolf's Anthropology, but there, Wolf was also quoting the phrase without further information. So he searched through the internet for three hours and asked some people around him who he thought may know, but all eventually failed.
There were seven of us but no one has seen the phrase in Kroeber's works, so, we did all sorts of guesswork about the "truth" of this quote (for fun, of course).
Is there someone who knows where this quote comes from? Or is there a hidden mystery behind this, known to some but not to the others? I may win something (a cup of coffee maybe) if I can find out the "truth" first.
Many thanks in advance!! : )
Well, now I look on Google I find Eric Wolf saying that he wrote that phrase in his book Anthropology in 1964, p. 88. Sadly, there doesnt seem to be a searchable copy.
Actually, Nikos, I find your version much more elegant.
Dead ends indeed! Difficult to say whether Eric Wolf's quote was originally Kroeber's, since I can't find it either. It puts me in mind of the maxim attributed to Evans-Pritchard that 'there is only one method in social anthropology - the comparative method - and that is impossible'. Rodney Needham refers to it in his 'Polythetic Classification' essay, and adds that he heard E-P say it, but he couldn't find it in his writings.
As for Maurice Bloch's mention (in 'The Past and the Present in the Present') of the 'long conversation' with regard to Malinowski, I wonder whether this isn't so much a quote as Bloch's interpretation of Malinowski's method.
Rather along the lines of Heesun's deal (there's a cup of coffee in it for anyone who can help!), my own unfindable quote is something I once read about Malinowski's output (Sex and Repression and Coral Gardens, I think) which said something like anthropology's first two professional interests were 'sex and metaphysics'. Pithy and a bit flippant - I was convinced it was Edmund Leach, but no luck. This has been annoying me for a long time!