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This philosophy of anthropology section is within philosophy of social science, so the term 'anthropology' is here taken as short for social and cultural anthropology. Philosophy of anthropology aims to contribute to our understanding of anthropology as a discipline through doing philosophy. Most works within this category fall into one or more of the following areas. (1) Attempts to answer questions about the nature or value of anthropology, e.g. what distinguishes anthropology from other disciplines? is it possible to pursue  anthropology as a science? what moral obligations does anthropology give rise to? (2) Attempts to identify the commitments of a given type of anthropology, e.g. functionalist anthropology, structuralist anthropology; and also philosophical evaluations of these commitments. (3) Attempts to define more general concepts that are closely connected to anthropological research, e.g. the concept of a culture, the concept of a belief system; and also assessments of their value to anthropology.

Key works Wittgenstein 1967, Quine 1957, Jarvie 1967 and Davidson 1973 are key works written by philosophers. A number of key works are by anthropologists reflecting on their discipline. See Malinowski 1922 (introductory chapter), Radcliffe-Brown 1940, Evans-Pritchard 1961, Lévi-Strauss 1969, Geertz 1973, Harris 1980, Sperber 1985, Sperber 1996, Clifford & Marcus 1986, Spiro 1986, Spiro 1996, Strathern 1987, Strathern 1987, Strathern 1990, Moore 1988, Csordas 1990, Gell 1992, Gell 1994, Abu-Lughod 1996,  Henare et al 2007 and Ingold 2014
Introductions Jarvie 1967 and Sperber 1985 are good places to start. Hacker 1992 is useful for understanding Wittgenstein's criticisms of Frazer. Lynch 1997 serves well as an introduction to what a conceptual framework is and whether there can be alternative conceptual frameworks. Zahle 2016 provides information on how participant observation relates to the divide between the natural and social sciences.
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1567 found
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1 — 50 / 1567
  1. What is Spoken of When We Speak About Being.Niel Bezrookove - manuscript
    τὰ ὄντα ἰέναι τε πάντα καὶ μένειν οὐδέν: Another look at being, asking what a interlocutor means to show by saying they feel themselves to be something. An ambiguity of the verb "to be" is disambiguated to reveal that it can be meant to show what something is and a process of being something. The relationship between being and essence is made by describing engagement through the encounter, giving us a non-exhaustive account of something's essence. Practice is then understood as (...)
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  2. “What is the Difference Between Your Response to Marilyn Strathern on Feminist Anthropology and Janaki Nair’s Response?”.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    Marilyn Strathern argues against the possibility of feminist research bringing about a paradigm shift in social anthropology. In an earlier paper, my interpretation of Strathern’s argument, or one of them, is similar to Janaki Nair’s response in broad outline. But it is different in detail and I also object to Strathern’s argument, whereas Nair endorses the argument she extracts. Here I identify differences and I object to the Nair-Strathern argument as well.
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  3. On the Very Idea of Symbolic Capital? Clarifying an Anthropologist’s Objection.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    Pierre Bourdieu’s social theory relies on concepts of four kinds of capital: economic, social, cultural, and symbolic. The anthropologist Pnina Werbner raises the issue of whether the concept of symbolic capital faces a paradox, because within some social groups one can only gain such capital by denying its value. There is a question of how best to clarify the paradox and I offer a clarification.
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  4. “What is the Difference Between Your Response to Marilyn Strathern on Feminist Anthropology and Patricia Uberoi’s Response?”.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    Patricia Uberoi extracts an argument from Marilyn Strathern: that feminist research cannot bring about a paradigm shift in social anthropology, because any feminist framework can be easily contained. I contrast Uberoi’s interpretation of Strathern with my own, and then draw attention to two possibilities that this containment argument overlooks.
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  5. Against the Diversity Objection to Group Worldview Description.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    This paper defends the practice of attributing a worldview to a group against the objection that this practice overlooks different views within the group and wrongly portrays the group as homogeneous.
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  6. Five Counterexamples to a Definition of Dirt.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    This paper considers five counterexamples to Mary Douglas's definition of dirt, one of which is extracted from a scene from George Eliot's novel Middlemarch and another from Marilyn Strathern's essay on anthropology at home.
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  7. “Writing the Exotic”: A Pastiche of Marilyn Strathern.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    This paper presents an attempted pastiche of the writing and thinking style of the distinguished anthropologist Marilyn Strathern. The claim about the consequence of avoiding the charge of exoticism resembles the paradox of analysis.
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  8. An Unmonstrous Family? Omissions in Kathleen Stock’s History of Gender Identity Theory.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    This is a one page handout identifying some notable omissions from her brief history of gender identity theory.
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  9. Unfreedom as Development? Innate Differences and the Wealth of Nations.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    I remark on the explanation that innate differences account for why some countries are wealthy and others poor. I draw a distinction between two versions of this explanation.
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  10. British Structural-Functionalist Anthropology, Feminism, and Partial Connections.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    Marilyn Strathern’s arguments against the possibility of feminist research bringing about a paradigm shift in social anthropology have led to a number of responses. Regarding one argument she presents, her own writings suggest a response: the argument that feminist research cannot bring about such a shift, because it is only concerned with part of society. A foray into the history of British social anthropology is of value for appreciating this argument and the response.
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  11. Why Bother? The Metaphor of Organizing in the Conceptual Schemes Literature.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    Much of the recent philosophy literature on the topic of alternative conceptual schemes responds to Donald Davidson. Davidson makes an argument by applying his system to the question, “Could others have an alternative system of concepts, an alternative conceptual scheme?” But he also remarks on the metaphor of organizing. A number of others have joined in. Why? This material may seem unimportant, but I present some reasons for why, and respond to other remarks, by P.M.S Hacker and Hans-Johann Glock.
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  12. How Well Do We Understand Our Own Societies? Kakonomia Again and Kathleen Stock on the Perspective of Love.Terence Rajivan Edward -
    How well do we understand our own societies? In this paper, I raise quite obvious puzzles for Diego Gambetta and Gloria Origgi’s depiction of Italy as a kakonomy and Kathleen Stock’s depiction of ordinary people.
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  13. Are Individuals a Problem for British Structural-Functionalist Anthropology?Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    In this paper, I consider the objection to British structural-functionalism that it is unable to deal with the significance of individuals. There are various ways in which individuals may pose a problem for it. I identify four ways, one of which is novel.
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  14. Its Many Varieties: Does Liberalism Merely Alternate Between Ethics and Economics?Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    I am not sure who said that liberalism merely alternates between ethics and economics – was it Karl Kraus? – but at first glance the claim is plausible. In this paper I argue that there are varieties of liberalism which do not. Some depend on a nature-culture distinction and some appeal to simplicity in a way that seems aesthetic. In the appendix I introduce a problem for utilitarianism.
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  15. “What is the Difference Between Your Objection to Marilyn Strathern on Feminist Anthropology and Kamala Visweswaran’s Objection?”.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    I respond to the charge that one of my objections to Marilyn Strathern’s rejection of feminist anthropology is the same as an objection made by Kamala Visweswaran. They may seem very similar to begin with, but I argue that there is both a difference in focus - in which premises we are concentrating on - and in method.
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  16. Literary Girls, by K*Thleen St*Ck: Chapter 5, Realism.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    In this paper, I present a pastiche of Kathleen Stock responding to Raymond Tallis’s defence of realism. It is followed by a note in which I briefly explain why I have approached this task by means of pastiche.
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  17. Coming of Age in the Ivy League: On the Social Construction of a Myth of Genius.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    By referring to notable analytic philosophers, this paper raises a question of to what extent a certain myth of genius of universal: that of the neglected genius who later finds recognition.
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  18. Searle’s Contradictory Theory of Social Reality.Danny Frederick - manuscript
    John Searle, in several articles and books, has contended that institutions incorporating status functions with deontic powers are created by collective acceptance that is not analysable into individual acceptance. I point out three self-contradictions in Searle’s exposition.
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  19. Art and the Anthropologists.Gregory Currie - unknown - In .
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  20. World-Estrangement as Negative Anthropology: Günther Anders's Early Essays.Hannes Bajohr - forthcoming - Thesis Eleven:072551361986386.
    Review essay about Günther Anders, Die Weltfremdheit des Menschen, Munich 2018.
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  21. Demographic Cultures and Demographic Skepticism.Andrew Buskell - forthcoming - Review of Philosophy and Psychology:1-20.
    The social sciences often explain behavioral differences by appealing to membership in distinct cultural groups. This work uses the concepts of “cultures” and “cultural groups” like any other demographic category. I call these joint conceptualizations of “cultures” and “cultural groups” demographic cultures. Such demographic cultures have long been subject to scrutiny. Here I isolate and respond to a set of arguments I call demographic skepticism. This skeptical position denies that the demographic cultures concept can support metaphysically plausible and empirically principled (...)
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  22. Bones Without Flesh and (Trans)Gender Without Bodies: Querying Desires for Trans Historicity.Avery Everhart - forthcoming - Hypatia.
    In 2011 a 5000 year old 'male' skeleton buried in a 'female' way was discovered by an archaeological team just outside of modern-day Prague. This paper queries the impulse to name such a discovery as evidence of transgender identity, and bodies, in an increasingly ancient past. To do so, it takes up the work of Denise Ferreira da Silva, Sylvia Wynters, and Hortense Spillers as a means to push back against the impetus of naming such discoveries as transgender in order (...)
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  23. Respect for Subjects in the Ethics of Causal and Interpretive Social Explanation.Michael L. Frazer - forthcoming - American Political Science Review.
    Rival causal and interpretive approaches to explaining social phenomena have important ethical differences. While human actions can be explained as a result of causal mechanisms, as a meaningful choice based on reasons, or as some combination of the two, it is morally important that social scientists respect others by recognizing them as persons. Interpretive explanations directly respect their subjects in this way, while purely causal explanations do not. Yet although causal explanations are not themselves expressions of respect, they can be (...)
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  24. Ingold’s Animism and European Science.Jeff Kochan - forthcoming - Perspectives on Science:1-66.
    Anthropologist Tim Ingold promotes Indigenous animism as a salve for perceived failures in modern science, failures he claims also hobbled his own early work. In fact, both Ingold’s early and later work rely on modern scientific ideas and images. His turn to animism marks not an exit from the history of European science, but an entrance into, and imaginative elaboration of, distinctly Neoplatonic themes within that history. This turn marks, too, a clear but unacknowledged departure from systematic social analysis. By (...)
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  25. Confronting the Field: Tylor's Anahuac and Victorian Thought on Human Diversity.Chiara Lacroix - forthcoming - History of the Human Sciences:095269512110695.
    Victorian anthropologists have been nicknamed ‘armchair anthropologists’. Yet some of them did set foot in the field. Edward Burnett Tylor's first published work, Anahuac, or Mexico and the Mexicans, Ancient and Modern, described his youthful travels in Mexico. Tylor's confrontation with the ‘field’ revealed significant in tensions between the different beliefs and attitudes that Tylor held towards Mexican society. Contrasts between the evidence of Mexico's history and the present-day society of the 1850s led Tylor to see both progress and degeneration (...)
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  26. History and Structure in Anthropological Knowledge.G. Lantéri-Laura - forthcoming - Social Research: An International Quarterly.
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  27. Structural Dynamics in Political Anthropology: Some Conceptual Dilemmas.D. Kent Mccallum - forthcoming - Social Research: An International Quarterly.
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  28. 13. Rhuthmology as Poetics and Historical Anthropology.Pascal Michon - forthcoming - Rhuthmos.
    Previous chapter Rhuthmology as Poetics and Historical Anthropology One of the unpublished sketches of The Birth of the Tragedy entitled The Dionysian Conception of the World ends up with a quite interesting theory of language, which anticipates some important features of discourse and poem theory developed in the second half of the 20th century. In order to accurately describe the Dionysian forms of expression, Nietzsche feels - Sur le concept de rythme – Nouvel article.
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  29. Marriage and its Limits.Daniel Nolan - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    Marriages come in a very wide variety: if the reports of anthropologists and historians are to be believed, an extraordinarily wide variety. This includes some of the more unusual forms, including marriage to the dead; to the gods; and even to plants. This does suggest that few proposed marriage relationships would require 'redefining marriage': but on the other hand, it makes giving a general theory of marriage challenging. So one issue we should face is how accepting we should be of (...)
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  30. Traditions in French Anthropology.Jean Pouillon - forthcoming - Social Research: An International Quarterly.
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  31. Discontents in Anthropology.Bob Scholte - forthcoming - Social Research: An International Quarterly.
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  32. Fear and Ethics in the Sundarbans. Anthropology in Amitav Ghosh’s "The Hungry Tide".Alessandro Vescovi - forthcoming - Governare la Paura. Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies.
    Amitav Ghosh's The Hungry Tide has been often interpreted from the point of view of postcolonial studies and environmental studies, overlooking the anthropological implications of the narrative. This paper investigates the worship and the myth of the sylvan deity Bonbibi, and of her counterpart, the demon Dakshin Rai. The goddess, endowed with an apotropaic function, protects the people who “do the forest” from the dangers of the wilderness, epitomized by tigers. According to anthropologist Annu Jalais, who accompanied Ghosh in the (...)
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  33. Paul Radin and Contemporary Anthropology.Arthur J. Vidich - forthcoming - Social Research: An International Quarterly.
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  34. Measuring Non-Han Bodies: Anthropometry, Colonialism, and Biopower in China's South-Western Borderland in the 1930s and 1940s.Jing Zhu - forthcoming - History of the Human Sciences:095269512110499.
    This article examines the biopower of non-Han bodies by considering the intersections of anthropology, racial science, and colonial regimes. During the 1930s and 1940s, when extensive anthropometric research was being undertaken on non-Han populations in the south-western borderlands of China, several anthropologists studied non-Han groups under the aegis of frontier administration. Chinese scholars sought to generate the physical characteristics of ethnic minority groups in the south-west of China, through the methodology of body measurement, in order to identify forms of social (...)
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  35. Whose Home Is the Field?Rosanna Dent - 2022 - Isis 113 (1):137-143.
    Twentieth-century field research in the human sciences has repeatedly rendered specific communities and people as subjects of study. As scientists layered field upon field in the same spaces, subjects have gained their own forms of expertise. This essay examines the history of research in Terra Indígena Pimentel Barbosa, in what is now Central Brazil, to argue that fields are composed of human relations and that historians of science have the moral responsibility to recognize that fields are almost always someone’s home. (...)
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  36. Do Anthropologists Use Rational Actor Models? The Case of Marilyn Strathern.Terence Rajivan Edward - 2022 - IJRDO - Journal of Social Science and Humanities Research 7 (3).
    Economics uses rational actor models, but what about anthropology? I present an interpretation of the influential anthropologist Marilyn Strathern according to which she engages in a kind of rational actor modelling, but a kind that is different from economic modelling.
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  37. Fare l'Europa attraverso l'Europa: Geosofia dei popoli europei per una geopolitica multipolare.Lorenzo Maria Pacini - 2022 - Rivista EVROPA 1 (1):22.
    Questa pubblicazione intende fornire uno sguardo sulla situazione dell’Europa, intesa come continente fatto di diverse entità politiche, etniche e culturali, in relazione alla geopolitica mondiale che sta cambiando la propria impostazione, diventando sempre più multipolare. L’approccio offerto dalla geosofia, affiancata alla noologia, permette di comprendere con quale fondamento etnosociologico ed identitario i diversi popoli possano prendere parte alla nuova configurazione del mondo multipolare, superando l’ideologia globalista e riconquistando il valore delle proprie identità.
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  38. A Bite of the Forbidden Fruit: The Abject of Food and Affirmative Environmental Ethics.Anne Sauka - 2022 - Open Philosophy 5 (1):281-295.
    This article explores the negative framing of environmental concern in the context of food procurement and consumption, through the lens of the myth of Eden considering the ontological and genealogical aspects of the experienced exile from nature. The article first considers the theoretical context of the negative framing of food ethics. Demonstrating the consequences of the experience of food as abject, the article then goes on to discuss the exile from Eden as an explanatory myth for the perceptual inbetweenness of (...)
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  39. Objects of Authority: A Postformalist Aesthetics.Jakub Stejskal - 2022 - New York, USA: Routledge.
    Is the celebrated elegance of Cycladic marble figurines an effect their Early Bronze Age producers intended? Can one adequately appreciate an Assyrian regal statue described by a cuneiform inscription as beautiful? What to make of the apparent aesthetic richness of the traditional cultures of Melanesia, which, however, engage in virtually no recognizable aesthetic discourse? Questions such as these have been formulated and discussed by scholars of remote cultures against the backdrop of a general scepticism about the prospects of escaping the (...)
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  40. Kinmaking, Progeneration, and Ethnography.Rob Wilson - 2022 - Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science 91:77-85.
    Philosophers of biology and biologists themselves for the most part assume that the concept of kin is progenerative: what makes two individuals kin is a direct or indirect function of reproduction. Derivatively, kinship might likewise be presumed to be progenerative in nature. Yet a prominent view of kinship in contemporary cultural anthropology is a kind of constructivism or performativism that rejects such progenerativist views. This paper critically examines an influential line of thinking used to critique progenerativism and support performativism that (...)
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  41. Why kinship is progeneratively constrained: Extending anthropology.Robert A. Wilson - 2022 - Synthese 200 (2):1-20.
    The conceptualisation of kinship and its study remain contested within anthropology. This paper draws on recent cognitive science, developmental cognitive psychology, and the philosophy of science to offer a novel argument for a view of kinship as progeneratively or reproductively constrained. I shall argue that kinship involves a form of extended cognition that incorporates progenerative facts, going on to show how the resulting articulation of kinship’s progenerative nature can be readily expressed by an influential conception of kinds, the homeostatic property (...)
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  42. People of the Book: Empire and Social Science in the Islamic Commonwealth Period.Musa al-Gharbi - 2021 - Socius 7.
    Social science is often described as a product of 19th century Europe, and as a handmaiden to its imperial and colonial projects. However, centuries prior to the Western social science enterprise, Islamic imperial scholars developed their own ‘science of society.’ This essay provides an overview of the historical and cultural milieu in which 'Islamic' social science was born, and then charts its development over time through case studies of four seminal scholars -- al-Razi, al-Farabi, al-Biruni and Ibn Khaldun -- who (...)
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  43. Renegades or Liberals? Recent Reflections on the Boasian Legacies in American Anthropology. [REVIEW]Nicholas Barron - 2021 - History of the Human Sciences 34 (3-4):362-373.
  44. Geoethics Beyond Enmeshment: Critical Reflections on the Post-Humanist Position in the Anthropocene.Vincent Blok - 2021 - In Geo-Societal Narratives. cham: pp. 29-54.
    In philosophical reflections on geoethics, it is primarily the question of what it means to be ‘part’ of the Earth system that is critically reflected upon. As the current geological era of the Anthropocene disrupts the dichotomy between Human agency and the Earth system, philosophers criticise a humanist account of geoethics and call for a post-humanist account. In this chapter, we critically engage with one specific proponent of the post-humanist position, Timothy Morton. We introduce his version of the post-humanist position (...)
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  45. Efficiency Versus Enjoyment: Looking After the Human Condition in the Transition to the Bio-Based Economy.Vincent Blok & Roeland Christiaan Veraart - 2021 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 34 (6):1-19.
    In this paper, we criticize the current focus of the bio-based economy on efficiency and control and demonstrate the contradictions that this causes. We elucidate these tensions by comparing the BBE to alternative conceptions of economy that emphasise the relevance of both the human condition and unfathomable nature in the macro ecological transition project. From Emmanuel Levinas’s philosophy, we take and extrapolate two major concepts—il y a and enjoyment—that help to re-evaluate the status of both nature and the human subject (...)
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  46. Interpreting and Developing Heidegger’s Analytic of Dasein as Philosophical Anthropology, with a Focus on the ‘Revelatory Moods’ of Anxiety, Boredom and Joy.James Cartlidge - 2021 - Dissertation, Central European University
    This dissertation articulates and defends a conception of philosophical anthropology by reading Martin Heidegger’s ‘analytic of Dasein’ as an exemplary case of it and developing its account of anxiety and boredom. I define philosophical anthropology in distinction to empirical anthropology, which I argue is concerned with specificity and difference. Anthropology investigates human beings and their societies in their historical specificity, situated in context, thereby contributing to the understanding of the differences between human beings and their societies across the world and (...)
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  47. Pêro Vaz de Caminha e a Figura da Repetição: Uma Revisitação Histórico-filosófica da Carta do Achamento do Brasil.Eurico Carvalho - 2021 - Portuguese Studies Review 29 (2):9-53.
    The Letter from Pero Vaz de Caminha to the King of Portugal, Manuel I, is a unique document because its account of first contact with a people unknown in Europe up to that time may be regarded as evidence of the anthropological impossibility of a neutral gaze. This is an asymmetric testimony, as we do not possess (for obvious reasons) the Amerindian counterpart of European discourse. Although the letter’s author is someone who fully assumes the objectivity claim, we must not (...)
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  48. Parallel Structures: André Leroi-Gourhan, Claude Lévi-Strauss, and the Making of French Structural Anthropology.Jacob Collins - 2021 - History of the Human Sciences 34 (3-4):307-335.
    This article reframes our understanding of French structural anthropology by considering the work of André Leroi-Gourhan alongside that of Claude Lévi-Strauss. These two anthropologists worked at opposite poles of the discipline, Lévi-Strauss studying cultural objects, like myths and kinship relations; Leroi-Gourhan looking at material artifacts, such as stone tools, bones, arrowheads, and cave paintings. In spite of their difference in focus, these thinkers shared a similar approach to the interpretation of their sources: Each individual object was meaningful only as part (...)
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  49. Hat Sizes and Craniometry: Professional Know-How and Scientific Knowledge.Peter Cryle - 2021 - History of the Human Sciences 34 (2):46-65.
    This article examines the relation between commercial activity and knowledge-making, looking at hatmakers in order to open up a more general question about the overlap between the knowledge practices of 19th-century science and those of everyday commercial culture of the time. Phrenology also claims attention here, since it can be said to have occupied an intermediate position between science and commerce. From time to time during the first half of the century, phrenologists attended to hatmakers in the hope of gleaning (...)
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  50. Ampliando o “cuidado de si” em Foucault: Paul Veyne e sua nova forma de se fazer “Crítica” a partir de Marcel Mauss.Gustavo Ruiz da Silva - 2021 - Boletim Historiar 1 (8):3-21.
    Este artigo visa mapear como Marcel Mauss (no que concerne às questões da Dádiva e da Teoria da Reciprocidade) foi absorvido por Paul Veyne no que circunda dois estudos de casos: o primeiro deles sendo a noção de “Evergetismo”, trabalhada em “Le pain et le cirque: sociologie historique d'un pluralisme politique”; e o segundo deles a noção de “Imagem de si”, construída por Veyne para fazer uma “crítica”(conceito agora reformulado de modo positivo e não vingativo) à leitura do “cuidado de (...)
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