Anthropology as a Natural Science Clifford Geertz’s Extrinsic Theory of the Mind


Clifford Geertz set forth interpretative anthropology as a natural science, based on “the extrinsic theory of the mind”. Observation of the use of words and cultural symbols will determine theory meaning. Symbols are models or templates, and enter into the constitution of every perceived object or event we recognize or identify. We do not perceive what others perceive, but what they perceive “with”, “by means of”, or “through”. But the objects and events we or others perceive are already and from the first symbolic. Thoughts and emotions are articulated, generated and regenerated by words and other symbolic objects. Without, or before, words and symbols, there is only general, diffuse, ongoing flow of bodily sensation. This essay criticizes these theses in the light of the philosophy of mind and the phenomenology of perception.

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Lingis, A. (2014) Anthropology as a Natural Science Clifford Geertz’s Extrinsic Theory of the Mind. Open Journal of Philosophy, 4, 96-106. doi: 10.4236/ojpp.2014.42014.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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