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34, 2010, 40405

Further Thoughts
G E R Lloyd

The editors kindly offered me the opportunity to record some reactions, though naturally I cannot attempt a measured response to all the points that this rich set of contributions has raised. That might require more than just another article, maybe a further monograph. But I feel I owe it to those who have engaged in this debate to make the following points. First, I started my article by pointing out the dangers of different specializations talking past one another. The contributors to this collection come indeed from many different disciplines and I must admit that they have largely shown that my fears were ill-founded. Of course the questions they focus on differ and that includes entertaining divergent views on where the chief problems lie and how to go about clarifying them. There are, however, I would say, not just considerable grounds for optimism about the possibilities of communication across disciplines, but also some convergence on substantial points. In particular, there is a widely shared perception of the unsatisfactoriness of certain dichotomies that have beset the discussion, the binarism between rationality and irrationality (Rochberg), those between biology and culture (Foley), or nature and culture (Daston) and the innate and the acquired (Bateson) and especially the supposed antinomy between universalism and relativism (Descola, Hacking, Salmond and Salmond, Schaffer, Strathern, Viveiros de Castro) where several contributors insist that various brands of relativism are perfectly compatible with some claims to human universals. Differences, profound ones, of course, persist: as Schaffer puts it, opposition is true friendship. I have not convinced everyone that my own approach can be fruitful. Some suggest that I need radically to overhaul some basic assumptions (Hacking, Ingold, Salmond and Salmond). Others question my use of ancient materials, which they suspect of being too intellectualist or dismiss as reflexive. Those materials are certainly beyond the reach of the type of experimental investigation favoured by modern cognitive science (Boyer) though perhaps not in principle beyond the evolutionary biology Foley discusses. The question of what the proper unit of comparison should be remains highly problematic (Blackwell, Ginzburg, Zhang). But in some cases, the lesson I would derive is not that I need to go back to the drawing board and start all over again, but rather, if anything, that I should extend the mode of analysis on which I embarked. Multidimensionality, in particular, as I used it, does not go far enough, for it itself may be said to be multidimensional (Strathern). Incommensurability, which figured in my book as something of a threat, when given a multidimensional reading
Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining 2010 Published by Maney on behalf of the Institute DOI 10.1179/030801810X12772143410520

Published by Maney Publishing (c) IOM Communications Ltd



(as by Viveiros de Castro) can be converted into an opportunity for exploration rather than a denial of the possibility of mutual intelligibility. Certainly that is in the spirit of the pluralism that I advocated, often by way of a critique of the hegemonic assumptions that have long bedevilled discussion. The extent to which the collection exhibits a convergence on the need to overhaul those assumptions and adopt a more genuinely ecumenical as well as interdisciplinary approach is, for me, the most encouraging aspect of this rather bold, pioneering, collaboration.

Published by Maney Publishing (c) IOM Communications Ltd