By Chomsky Noam
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Given the fact that they are ‘magnified non-natural men’ and that they are ‘chiefs, aristocrats, commoners and slaves’, it seems odd that it should be nonsense to credit them with legs, a diet, and a habitat…) Concerning his own procedure, Leach tells us (p. 14): ‘…I make frequent reference to Kachin mythology but I…make no attempt to find any logical coherence in the myths to which I refer. Myths for me are simply one way of describing certain types of human behaviour…’ And, later, not only are myth and ritual one, so that it makes no sense to ask non-contextual questions about the former, but also (p.
The dotted circle represents a different—in this case, smaller—range of context taken into consideration. It may be that the sympathetic, positive interpretations of indigenous assertions are not the result of a sophisticated appreciation of context, but the other way round: that the manner in which the context is invoked, the amount and kind of context and the way the context itself is interpreted, depends on prior tacit determination concerning the kind of interpretation one wishes to find… After all, there is nothing in the nature of things or societies to dictate visibly just how much context is relevant to any given utterance, or how that context should be described.
What is relevant here is that if such a principle is made explicit and generalised, it would make nonsense of most sociological studies of the relationship of belief and conduct. We shall find anthropologists driven to employ the very opposite principle, the insistence on rather than refusal of contextual reinterpretation. 3. This is where Functionalism is relevant. The essence of Functionalism is perhaps the stress on context (rather than origin or overt motive) in the explanation of social behaviour.