Geertz argues that Western, empirical science over-complicates the idea of "Human Nature" by disastrously oversimplifying it.
Many thinkers have poured many decades into books and debates and articles and arguments hacking the essential concept of mankind down to a set of simple, universal maxims - "man is selfish," "man needs god," "man is a slave his own bodily needs."
Our failure to find The One True Nature, separated from any specific culture, should be an important clue.
There is no such thing.
Much of Clause Levi-Strauss' work argued that scientific explanation does not consist (as we have been led to imagine) in the reduction of the complex to the simple.
Scientific advancement commonly consists in a progressive complication of what once seemed a beautifully simple set of notions but now seems an unbearably simplistic one
Whitehead once offered to the natural sciences the maxim "Seek simplicity and distrust it"; to the social sciences he might well have offered "Seek complexity and order it."
The rise of a scientific concept of culture amounted to, or at least was connected with, the overthrow of the view of "Human Nature" dominant in the Enlightenment
We have replaced it with a view that is not only more complicated, but enormously less clear. The attempt to clarify it, to reconstruct an intelligible account of what man is, has underlain scientific thinking about culture ever since. Having sought complexity and, on a scale grander than they ever imagined, found it, anthropologists became entangled in a tortuous effort to order it.
The Enlightenment view of man was that he was wholly of a piece with nature and shared in the general uniformity of composition which natural science, under Bacon's urging and Newton's guidance, had discovered there.
The notion that men are men under whatever guise and against whatever backdrop.