Knowledges: Culture, Counterculture, Subculture

Peter Worsley, Author
Peter Worsley, Author New Press $35 (407p) ISBN 978-1-56584-383-7
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
Seeking to provide a survey of ""knowledge systems"" from the primitive to the postmodern, social scientist Worsley (The Trumpet Shall Sound) examines what vastly different cultures know and how that knowledge is distributed within those cultures as well as in the world at large. Using the primitive aboriginal tribe in Australia's Groote Eyland as a starting point and common thread, Worsley analyzes cultures as diverse as modern-day Japan, ancient Greece and the Disney Corporation, presenting a sampling of current and historical data on such disciplines as medicine, religion, science, politics and linguistics. Stunningly broad in conception and written in a dense, convoluted style, this work will swamp most general readers. Some background knowledge in the social sciences would doubtless help most readers to judge the soundness of Worsley's examination of how we define or perceive knowledge, and of his central argument for the irreducible plurality of knowledge systems. Nonetheless, his descriptions and analyses, based on a lifetime of study, should enthrall even readers new to the subject. (Jan.)
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