Yet the shift toward intersubjective, Self-Self relation challenges the boundaries of anthropological discourse and raises some crucial questions: Is this turn toward identification going to lead us to ever more insular forms of anthropology? Even to anthropology’s demise? On the other hand, on a less apocalyptic note, couldn’t we say that the new focus on the possibilities and limits of identification is making anthropology finally and truly possible by leading us toward greater depth of understanding, greater depth of feeling about those whom we write about?
. . . Daring to speak of his sorrow, of his loss, his rage, daring, yes, to privilege sentiments, he dares to be ‘feminine’—that is, feminine in the terms of our cultural logic and the way we ascribe genders to our writing. And immediately the sons come along to chastise him for not being macho enough.
“. . . but I say that anthropology that doesn’t break your heart just isn’t worth doing anymore.”
And I mean it. Really mean it. Because my heart is broken. Because the one person I wish had heard me sing this lament for him isn’t here. Can’t be here.
“Anthropology That Breaks Your Heart”
The Vulnerable Observer:
Anthropology That Breaks Your Heart
The Bible is written mostly by men, about men, for men mostly. Far and away, most translators of the Bible are men. Mostly, they want what Aristotle wants:
- Objectivity in observation
- A fixed original text
- A fixed equivalence in the target language
- Agency for the text (i.e., “And the intent of what the Word is saying here is, circumcise the foreskin of your heart Man of Judah—so come on you woman, don’t feel so excluded, since you have one too, don’t you?”)
- Authority in the text since it, the text itself, observes that, by nature, man is over woman in marriage, in public speaking, in teaching, and in body
- Language that is “felicitous, and that is “faithful,” to what men “describe” as “felicitous” and “faithful” language, which is what Aristotle means by objectivity in observation
- Insider status to the text, because it’s mostly by men, about men, and for men
Most of these men translators mostly feel—or rather think—that anything other than these things is going to lead to the demise of standards. In fact, the standard is logic, dimorphic logic. If it’s not objective—because cold heady objectivity is good—then it must be bad.
Of course, like most of the Bible translators, most translators of Aristotle’s treatises are also men. They want what most of the Bible translators want. They feel—or rather they understand that they should be—close to the texts because the texts are written by a man, with that big tool of Logic and defining macho Dialectic, for men.
[What few anglo-centric and euro-centric men realize is that we really are outsiders to the texts which are written for men of another time, another exclusive race. And in Aristotle’s case, any translation, especially one that breaks your heart, is not worth doing for it puts us in appropriative flux back to the daring Heraclitus, who is not macho enough:
The theory of Forms occurred to those who enunciated it because they were convinced as to the true nature of reality by the doctrine of Heraclitus, that all sensible things are always in a state of flux; so that if there is to be any knowledge or thought about anything, there must be certain other entities, besides sensible ones, which persist. For there can be no knowledge of that which is in flux.
Now Socrates devoted his attention to the moral virtues, and was the first to seek a general definition of these  (for of the Physicists Democritus gained only a superficial grasp of the subject and defined, after a fashion, "the hot" and "the cold"; while the Pythagoreans at an earlier date had arrived at definitions of some few things--whose formulae they connected with numbers--e.g., what "opportunity" is, or "justice" or "marriage"); and he naturally inquired into the essence of things;
for he was trying to reason logically, and the starting-point of all logical reasoning is the essence. At that time there was as yet no such proficiency in Dialectic that men could study contraries independently of the essence, and consider whether both contraries come under the same science.There are two innovations which, may fairly be ascribed to Socrates: inductive reasoning and general definition. Both of these are associated with the starting-point of scientific knowledge.
συνέβη δ’ ἡ περὶ τῶν εἰδῶν δόξα τοῖς εἰποῦσι διὰ τὸ πεισθῆναι περὶ τῆς ἀληθείας τοῖς Ἡρακλειτείοις λόγοις ὡς πάντων τῶν αἰσθητῶν ἀεὶ ῥεόντων, ὥστ’ εἴπερ ἐπιστήμη τινὸς ἔσται καὶ φρόνησις, ἑτέρας (15) δεῖν τινὰς φύσεις εἶναι παρὰ τὰς αἰσθητὰς μενούσας· οὐ γὰρ εἶναι τῶν ῥεόντων ἐπιστήμην.
Σωκράτους δὲ περὶ τὰς ἠθικὰς ἀρετὰς πραγματευομένου καὶ περὶ τούτων ὁρίζεσθαι καθόλου ζητοῦντος πρώτου (τῶν μὲν γὰρ φυσικῶν ἐπὶ μικρὸν Δημόκριτος ἥψατο μόνον καὶ ὡρίσατό πως τὸ θερμὸν καὶ (20) τὸ ψυχρόν· οἱ δὲ Πυθαγόρειοι πρότερον περί τινων ὀλίγων, ὧν τοὺς λόγους εἰς τοὺς ἀριθμοὺς ἀνῆπτον, οἷον τί ἐστι καιρὸς ἢ τὸ δίκαιον ἢ γάμος·) ἐκεῖνος δ’ εὐλόγως ἐζήτει τὸ τί ἐστιν·
συλλογίζεσθαι γὰρ ἐζήτει, ἀρχὴ δὲ τῶν συλλογισμῶν τὸ τί ἐστιν· διαλεκτικὴ γὰρ ἰσχὺς οὔπω τότ’ ἦν ὥστε δύνασθαι (25) καὶ χωρὶς τοῦ τί ἐστι τἀναντία ἐπισκοπεῖν, καὶ τῶν ἐναντίων εἰ ἡ αὐτὴ ἐπιστήμη· δύο γάρ ἐστιν ἅ τις ἂν ἀποδοίη Σωκράτει δικαίως, τούς τ’ ἐπακτικοὺς λόγους καὶ τὸ ὁρίζεσθαι καθόλου· ταῦτα γάρ ἐστιν ἄμφω περὶ ἀρχὴν ἐπιστήμης)· (30)]