Scientia, Society and Polydactyl Knowledge: Archaeology as a creative science

This source preferred by Timothy Darvill

Authors: Darvill, T.

Editors: Kristiansen, K., Šmejda, L. and Turek, J.

Pages: 6-23

Publisher: Oxbow Books

Place of Publication: Oxford

ISBN: 978-1-78297-770-4

The epistemic basis of knowledge creation has long been a subject of interest in archaeology and one that Evžen Neustupný has contributed to through his award-winning essay ‘Whither archaeology?’ and his book Archaeological Method with their central concern for theory, methods, and the validation of knowledge. Tensions between the epistemologies of east and west, and between sciences and the humanities, have been well to the fore in much of this and remain at the core of many wider debates within archaeology. But there is a bigger picture, and one that also has importance in theoretical, practical, and professional terms. Taking one step back from the epistemology of knowledge creation, this paper considers a broader ontology of knowledge, providing an excursion into the metaphysical nature of archaeological knowledge, its constitution, and its application in contemporary society. It is suggested that archaeology is essentially a creative science, and that on an international compass embraces many different but connected kinds of knowledge. Like the fingers on a hand, the separate digits of polydactyl knowledge are of equal value and interest albeit prioritized in different ways by different societies and subcultures.

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