Top 78 Quotes & Sayings by Clifford Geertz

Explore popular quotes and sayings by an American scientist Clifford Geertz.
Clifford Geertz

Clifford James Geertz was an American anthropologist who is remembered mostly for his strong support for and influence on the practice of symbolic anthropology and who was considered "for three decades... the single most influential cultural anthropologist in the United States." He served until his death as professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.

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I don't think things are moving toward an omega point; I think they're moving toward more diversity.
It's always amusing to look at how something early in the 20th century was written in anthropology and how it's written now. There's been an enormous shift in how it's done, but yet you can't put your finger on someone who actually did it.
People keep asking how anthropology is different from sociology, and everybody gets nervous. β€” Β© Clifford Geertz
People keep asking how anthropology is different from sociology, and everybody gets nervous.
We need to think more about the nature of rhetoric in anthropology. There isn't a body of knowledge and thought to fall back on in this regard.
I think the American university system still seems to be the best system in the world.
We're getting closer to our nature.
Anthropology in general has always been fairly hospitable to female scholars, and even to feminist scholars.
Younger anthropologists have the notion that anthropology is too diverse. The number of things done under the name of anthropology is just infinite; you can do anything and call it anthropology.
Most anthropologists are doing straightforward ethnography, and should.
Has feminism made us all more conscious? I think it has. Feminist critiques of anthropological masculine bias have been quite important, and they have increased my sensitivity to that kind of issue.
I was trained in the '50s as a New Critic. I remember what literature was like before the New Critics, when people stood up and talked about Shelley's soul and such things.
I'm writing a review of three books on feminism and science, and it's about social constructionism. So I would say I'm a social constructionist, whatever that means.
I'm an inveterate fox and not a hedgehog, so I always think you should try everything. β€” Β© Clifford Geertz
I'm an inveterate fox and not a hedgehog, so I always think you should try everything.
I think what's known about neurology is still scattered and uncertain.
I think of myself as a writer who happens to be doing his writing as an anthropologist.
I don't feel that an atmosphere of debate and total disagreement and argument is such a bad thing. It makes for a vital and alive field.
The way in which mathematicians and physicists and historians talk is quite different, and what a physicist means by physical intuition and what a mathematician means by beauty or elegance are things worth thinking about.
I never leave a sentence or a paragraph until I'm satisfied with it.
Meaning is socially, historically, and rhetorically constructed.
My instincts are always against people who want to fasten some sort of hegemony onto things.
If I remember correctly, a writer is someone who wants to convey information. Language or writing is a code.
I do think the attempt to raise consciousness has succeeded. People are very aware of gender concerns now.
Gender consciousness has become involved in almost every intellectual field: history, literature, science, anthropology. There's been an extraordinary advance.
I don't write drafts. I write from the beginning to the end, and when it's finished, it's done.
I've often been accused of making anthropology into literature, but anthropology is also field research. Writing is central to it.
I think feminism has had a major impact on anthropology.
If there's ever a place where you can't argue that you can put the facts over here and the text over there and see if they fit, it is surely in anthropology.
I agree with Chomsky in almost nothing. When it comes to innate structures and so on, I'm very skeptical.
Anthropology never has had a distinct subject matter, and because it doesn't have a real method, there's a great deal of anxiety over what it is.
I think the perception of there being a deep gulf between science and the humanities is false.
I've written a lot of books which are written from the moon - the view from nowhere.
I had a hard time convincing students that they were going to North Africa to understand the North Africans, not to understand themselves.
The North African mule talks always of his mother's brother, the horse, but never of his father, the donkey, in favor of others supposedly more reputable.
Two people have been really liberating in my mind; one is Wittgenstein and the other is Burke. I read Burke before he was a secular saint, before everyone was reading him.
The point of literary criticism in anthropology is not to replace research, but to find out how it is that we are persuasive.
I don't have the notion that everybody has to write in some single academic style.
I think of myself as a writer who happens to be doing his writing as an anthropologist
I have a social philosophy; you have political opinions; he has an ideology. β€” Β© Clifford Geertz
I have a social philosophy; you have political opinions; he has an ideology.
Learning to exist in a world quite different from that which formed you is the condition, these days, of pursuing research you can on balance believe in and write sentences you can more or less live with.
Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun.
It may be in the cultural particularities of people β€” in their oddities β€” that some of the most instructive revelations of what it is to be generically human are to be found.
Culture is public, because meaning is
[Culture] denotes an historically transmitted pattern of meanings embodied in symbols, a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms, by means of which men communicate, perpetuate, and develop their knowledge about and attitudes toward life.
A religion is a system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing those conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic.
Believing, with Max Weber, that man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun, I take culture to be those webs, and the analysis of it to be therefore not an experimental science in search of law but an interpretive one in search of meaning.
There is an Indian story -- at least I heard it as an Indian story -- about an Englishman who, having been told that the world rested on a platform which rested on the back of an elephant which rested in turn on the back of a turtle, asked (perhaps he was an ethnographer; it is the way they behave), what did the turtle rest on? Another turtle. And that turtle? 'Ah, Sahib, after that it is turtles all the way down
Cultural analysis is intrinsically incomplete. And, worse than that, the more deeply it goes the less complete it is.
Younger anthropologists have the notion that anthropology is too diverse. The number of things done under the name of anthropology is just infinite; you can do anything and call it anthropology
Has feminism made us all more conscious? I think it has. Feminist critiques of anthropological masculine bias have been quite important, and they have increased my sensitivity to that kind of issue
My instincts are always against people who want to fasten some sort of hegemony onto things β€” Β© Clifford Geertz
My instincts are always against people who want to fasten some sort of hegemony onto things
Anthropology never has had a distinct subject matter, and because it doesn't have a real method, there's a great deal of anxiety over what it is
We don't know what we think until we see what we say.
One of the most significant facts about humanity may finally be that we all begin with the natural equipment to a live a thousand kinds of life but end in the end having lived only one
What we call our data are really our own constructions of other people’s constructions of what they and their compatriots are up to.
I agree with Chomsky in almost nothing. When it comes to innate structures and so on, I'm very skeptical
As a religious problem, the problem of suffering is, paradoxically, not how to avoid suffering but how to suffer, how to make of physical pain, personal loss, worldly defeat, or the helpless contemplation of others' agony something bearable, supportable- something as we say, sufferable.
A scholar can hardly be better employed than in destroying a fear.
To see ourselves as others see us can be eye-opening. To see others as sharing a nature with ourselves is the merest decency. But it is from the far more difficult achievement of seeing ourselves amongst others, as a local example of the forms human life has locally taken, a case among cases, a world among worlds, that the largeness of mind, without which objectivity is self-congratulation and tolerance a sham, comes.
If we wanted home truths, we should have stayed at home.
Understanding a people's culture exposes their normalness without reducing their particularity...It renders them accessible: setting them in the frame of their own banalities, it dissolves their opacity.
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