chapter  2
The limits of criticism
Pages 5

The relationship between practices is more complicated than a straight-forward parallel between science and non-science would imply. The question of whether one practice can reasonably be criticised from the standpoint of another was examined by Peter Winch, in an article called ‘Understanding a Primitive Society. Since it is apparent that no such standard exists, independent of socially constructed beliefs and practices, Evans-Pritchard is revealed as having given an unduly high status to scientific thinking. The argument of Evans-Pritchard is not therefore that Western man is superior to what he embarrassingly calls ‘the savage’, but that science is superior to non-science as a way of making sense of the environment. In saying this, he is clearly adopting a scientific view. Winch correctly objects to the notion, on the grounds that Evans-Pritchard must have some conception of reality which is intelligible outside the context of scientific reasoning.