Talk:Archaeological theory

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The neutrality of the section on Post-Processualism is questionable since the nature of Post-Processualism in comparison to Processualism is disputed and argued as possibly being invalid, while the section on Processualism is let to stand without argument. Egyptianboatmodel (talk) 07:04, 13 April 2008 (UTC)

Insofar as post-processualism existed as a scholarly, as opposed to social, movement it existed as a critique of processualism, so I think the whole post-processualism section would, if done properly, be a counterpoint to Processualism. The bigger problem is that the critique of post-processualism doesn't cite its sources. Alun Salt (talk) 12:50, 29 April 2008 (UTC)

You see my point. The Post-Processualism section as written does not stand as a counterpoint to Processualism and therefore I challenge its neutrality. I argue that instead of simply defining Post-Processualism this section advocates Processualism by attacking Post-Processualism, citations notwithstanding. Egyptianboatmodel (talk) —Preceding comment was added at 22:39, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Well let's see: processualism appears first in the article, because it's a chronological list. Post-processualism follows as a criticism of processualism, and at this point any casual reader like me might think that it represents the modern consensus. However, there are criticisms of post-processualism, too, so these are mentioned next. The final line of the section is a summing-up of processualism and not a criticism. That all seems perfectly fair. (talk) 02:16, 7 March 2009 (UTC)

Would using Bruce Trigger's book as a guild be a good idea?[edit]

I took a look at this page and found a major bleh--way to short for the matter at hand with huge hunks missing. I propose using Bruce Trigger's A History of Archaeological Thought sections to address some of these problems. I have to warn you Tigger's book is very system theory based

Here is a rough outline of the time periods Trigger uses:

  • Antiquarianism (antiquities collection) ancient times through c1860
Includes beginning of scientific archeology c1800
  • Imperial synthesis c1860-c1880
Deals with the use of racism and nationalism in archaeological interpenetration
  • Cultural-historical (Historical Particularism, National Archeology) c1880-present
National Archeology is still used in many parts of the world
  • Soviet Archeology c1850-c1980
Some ideas used in the 1930s appeared in Western models in the 1950s
  • Functionalism c1840-present
  • Neo-Evolution; c1946-present; New Archaeology c1959-present
Includes Binford's use of system theory the model use currently in the field.
Includes Intersocial Contact, neo-historism, neo-Marxism, and Contextual archaeology

What does everyone think?--BruceGrubb (talk) 15:58, 24 December 2009 (UTC)

Proposed merge with Philosophy of archaeology[edit]

These are essentially synonymous but theory is the more prevalent term by far. PatHadley (talk) 15:42, 2 June 2014 (UTC)

  • Oppose I can appreciate why you might suggest this, but I must object to such a merge as philosophy of archaeology refers to the broad search for theory in archaeology, as well as ethics, epistemology and ontology. Theory, on the other hand, refers to the application of various theories to archaeological problems and as such is a sub category of the philosophy of archaeology. There is an overlap, but I do not think they are the same thing. The conflation between them, I would suggest, is a confusion within the discipline, which may be helped in the long run by the higher level category of philosophy of archaeology. The Philosophy of archaeology was requested by the wiki:philosophy group and is attested to by a small but growing number of writings and therefore I would strongly argue for its retention as a separate entity. Cheers.� Dylanovsky (talk) 12:22, 3 June 2014 (UTC)
  • Support. User:Dylanovsky converts their !vote into a support by saying, "The conflation between them, I would suggest, is a confusion within the discipline". Quite simply, "philosophy of archaeology" doesn't exist, regardless of the wishes of the philosophy wikiproject, and Wikipedia isn't the place to create it. The current Philosophy of archaeology article WP:SYNTHs together a number of papers that have "philosophy" and "archaeology" in the title, but the authors of those papers would call what they're writing about theory. Since this discussion has stagnated for two years I'm going to WP:BOLDly go ahead with the merge. Joe Roe (talk) 07:24, 1 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose User:Joe Roe My objection stands as an objection and cannot be converted to support by misreading my words. You have clearly misunderstood what i meant by "confusion within the discipline". The conflation between philosophy and theory within archaeology does not negate the existence of a philosophy of archaeology, which has a wider remit than theory within the discipline. In fact your zeal to go ahead with this merge exhibits this confusion perfectly. I will be reverting this merge for the following reasons. You have not given any objective reason for the merge other than your belief it does not exist. You cannot know how authors would characterise their research. I believe the merge, whilst undoubtedly in good faith, is ideologically driven due to the confusion i described in my original objection. For this reason i think the separation is vital. Ethics, epistemology and ontology should not be placed under theory, as the hierarchy of knowledge is inverted, therefore a philosophy of archaeology page is required to allow for the proper categorisation of approaches and subjects of relevance to the discipline, and its proper placing in relation to the wider philosophy of science. Other disciplines have interests that overlap with archaeology within the philosophy of science and the proper connection is through philosophy at the highest level of abstraction in order to ensure coherence during integration of knowledge. The theory page does a good job of explaining the myriad theories and approaches within archaeology over the past century, however application of theories from outside the discipline is not the same as philosophy applied to the discipline.
As a way forward, i believe that a certain content on the theory page should eventually be transferred to the philosophy of archaeology where it is more naturally placed, however i think the discussion has a long way to go as the categorisation of higher level investigation in archaeology is in its infancy.
Generally, it is understood that there is a distinction between theory and philosophy even though they also overlap. Theory is intended as an explanation specific to an event or set of events, or some given thing. Philosophy is a manner of thought that includes such issues as ethics and the proper method of reasoning. Im happy to continue the discussion on the talk pages if you are concerned that there is a problem with this approach. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dylanovsky (talkcontribs) 14:12, 1 August 2016 (UTC)
The objective reason is that, per Pat's original proposal, by far the most common term for the application of philosophical thinking to archaeology (i.e. epistemology of archaeology, ontology of archaeology, forms of reasoning in archaeology, etc.) is referred to as "archaeological theory" in the literature. I understand the desire to systemise things, but it isn't the encyclopaedia's place to say how knowledge should be categorised or resolve "confusion" in our sources. We have to reflect what the sources say, and the impression currently given in philosophy of archaeology—that it is a separate endeavour encompassing archaeological theory and ethics—is pure WP:SYNTH without a single source to support it. Joe Roe (talk) 14:45, 1 August 2016 (UTC)
I agree the majority of archaeological sources within the discipline, particularly in the English tradition, use the term theory to encompass philosophical approaches as well. However, not all do, the distinction is noted and discussed in a number of papers. Merilee H Salmon discusses the difference between analytical philosophy of archaeology and the more general use of theory to cover philosophy in archaeology, and explicitly points the difference out, here. Alison Wylie, here, on the philosophy of archaeology and theory that she describes as distinct. There is also the fact that philosophy of archaeology is a subject not of concern only to archaeologists but is important in its connections to philosophy of biology, for example, here. On these examples alone i reject the WP:SYNTH position. The philosophy of archaeology indeed exists separately and is of interest to philosophers and many other disciplines, including astronomy, ecology, biology, robotics etc, whether archaeologists are aware of it are not, or whether they make the distinction or not. i appreciate that your view may be the predominant one within the discipline but i believe the encyclopaedia must reflect the widest scope of the knowledge, and in this archaeologists are not necessarily the final or only arbiters of what constitutes the philosophy of archaeology. And i say that as an archaeologist, which i will declare for reasons of transparency. I hope this goes some way to clarifying my position. Kodai (talk) 21:00, 1 August 2016 (UTC)