Evolutionary anthropology came under fire in the fin de siècle from within anthropology itself. There were numerous contributing factors, including a new emphasis on the importance of anthropologists doing their own fieldwork rather than examining the reports of others. But in terms of cultural theory, the most important criticism was that of the American anthropologist Franz Boas (1858-1942). A German immigrant to the United States, he was influenced by German Romantic philosophy, including Herder’s insistence on cultural particularity. In 1896, Boas published an influential critique of Tylor’s science, “The Limitations of the Comparative Method of Anthropology,” in which he persuasively challenged the basic notions of psychic unity and independent invention upon which Victorian evolutionary anthropology rested. Boas had been actively contesting evolutionary orthodoxy since at least 1887, when he objected to the typological arrangement of ethnographic artifacts within American national museums, insisting that they should instead be displayed with other objects from their originating culture (Stocking, Shaping of American Anthropology 61-67). He argued throughout his work for cultural pluralism, for “cultures” in the plural, and with him began the final shift in anthropological thought from the traditional universalism to the new, particular theory of culture that characterized twentieth-century thought.
Second, pluralism is not just tolerance, but the active seeking of understanding across lines of difference . Tolerance is a necessary public virtue, but it does not require Christians and Muslims, Hindus, Jews, and ardent secularists to know anything about one another. Tolerance is too thin a foundation for a world of religious difference and proximity. It does nothing to remove our ignorance of one another, and leaves in place the stereotype, the half-truth, the fears that underlie old patterns of division and violence. In the world in which we live today, our ignorance of one another will be increasingly costly.
How we go about explaining and defending the Faith depends very much on our audience. This second volume of Dr. Jeff Mirus’ collected essays in apologetics includes essays written between 2004 and 2011 which primarily address those who are either not religious at all, not Christian, or at least not Catholic. These topics include natural theology, the argument from conscience, the nature of Revelation, the Resurrection of Christ, the role of the Bible, the primacy of Peter and the authority of the Church. This volume also includes the eleven-part “Why Be Catholic” series. The author holds his . from Princeton University and has written frequently on apologetics over the past forty years.