chapter  5
35 Pages

Unifying science by creating community

The epideictic rhetoric of Sherwood Washburn
ByJohn P. Jackson, David J. Depew

This chapter looks at Sherwood Washburn following suit by expelling colleagues in physical anthropology who retained remnants of late nineteenth century views of phylogeny and the racist messages they carried. The conception of unity of science was more widespread in Washburn's formative years than logical empiricist historiography suggests. His methodological assumption that morphological structures determine behavioral and cognitive abilities was in service of finding in physical abnormalities signs of psychological deficiencies that would advance the cause of eugenics. Unity within and among the sciences was in some ways the Holy Grail of postwar American thinking. The intensity of Washburn's animus against Hooton, and by extension Coon, arose at several points of contestation. One was Hooton's view that classifying hominids is the aim and point of physical anthropology. From the perspective of the logical empiricist view of science that became ascendant in America by about 1960, the syncretism of Washburn's effort to integrate anthropology does not look much like scientific unification.