The most exciting aspect of anthropology is, for me, the business of interpretation of patterns of both structure and culture that leads on to the discovery of those latent processes that, while generally uncomprehended, are, nonetheless, essential to the conduct of social life. This amounts to the discovery, definition and revelation of the unobvious; and the potential for revelation of the unobvious is what distinguishes anthropological interpretation from mere ethnography, where ‘mere ethnography’ stands the registration of things said and done by the people put under the anthropologist’s gaze.

— Basil Sansom

What truly distinguishes anthropology, I believe, is that it is not a study of at all, but a study with. Anthropologists work and study with people. Immersed with them in an environment of joint activity, they learn to see things (or heard them, or touch them) in the ways their teachers and companions do. An education in anthropology, therefore, does more than furnish us with knowledge about the world - about people and their societies. It rather educates our perception of the world, and opens our eyes and minds to other possibilities of being. The questions we address are philosophical ones: of what it means to be a human being or a person, or moral conduct and the balance of freedom and constraint in people’s relations with others, of trust and respectability, of the exercise of power, of the connections between language and thought, between words and things, and between what people say and what they do, of perception and representation, and learning and memory, of life and death and the passage of time, and so on and so forth. Indeed the list is endless. But it is the fact that we address these questions in the world and not from the armchair - that this world is not just what we think about but what we think with, and that in its thinking the mind wanders along pathways extending far beyond the envelop of the skin - that makes the enterprise anthropological and, by the same token, radically different from positivist science. We do our philosophy out of doors. And in this, the world and its inhabitants, human and non-human, are our teachers, mentors and interlocutors.

— Tim Ingold