Gerda Lerner: No Conceptual Framework is Value-Free

Gerda Lerner, The Creation of Patriarchy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986), 15.

The shreds of hard evidence – tools, graves, pottery shards, the remains of dwellings and shrines, the ambiguous artifacts on cave walls, skeletal remains and the story they tell – all these lie before us in bewildering diversity. We tie them together with myths and speculation; we match them against what we know of “primitive” people surviving into the present; we use science, philosophy, religion to construct a model of that distant past before civilization began.

The approach we use in interpretation – our conceptual framework – determines the outcome. Such a framework is never value-free. We ask the questions of the past we want answered in the present.

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