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Anthropology as Ethics: Nondualism and the Conduct of Sacrifice

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Anthropology as Ethics

Nondualism and the Conduct of Sacrifice

T. M. S. Evens

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418 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-224-7 25% OFF! $120.00/£85.00 $90.00/£63.75 Hb Published (May 2008)

ISBN  978-1-84545-629-0 25% OFF! $34.95/£24.00 $26.21/£18.00 Pb Published (May 2009)

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Anthropology as Ethics is concerned with rethinking anthropology by rethinking the nature of reality. It develops the ontological implications of a defining thesis of the Manchester School: that all social orders exhibit basically conflicting underlying principles. Drawing especially on Continental social thought, including Wittgenstein, Merleau-Ponty, Levinas, Dumont, Bourdieu and others, and on pre-modern sources such as the Hebrew bible, the Nuer, the Dinka, and the Azande, the book mounts a radical study of the ontology of self and other in relation to dualism and nondualism. It demonstrates how the self-other dichotomy disguises fundamental ambiguity or nondualism, thus obscuring the essentially ethical, dilemmatic, and sacrificial nature of all social life. It also proposes a reason other than dualist, nihilist, and instrumental, one in which logic is seen as both inimical to and continuous with value. Without embracing absolutism, the book makes ambiguity and paradox the foundation of an ethical response to the pervasive anti-foundationalism of much postmodern thought.

T. M. S. (Terry) Evens is Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received his Ph.D. at the University of Manchester in 1971. He has held visiting appointments at the University of Chicago, the Ecoles des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, the University of Calcutta, and Asmara University, Eritrea. He is author of Two Kinds of Rationality: Kibbutz Democracy and Generational Conflict (1995), and co-editor of the collections, Transcendence in Society: Case Studies (1990) and The Manchester School: Practice and Ethnographic Praxis in Anthropology (2006). Drawn especially to theory and phenomenology, he has sought from the beginnings of his professional career to isolate, identify, and critically explore philosophical underpinnings of empirical anthropology.

Subject: Theory & Methodology in Anthropology


Organization and Key Usages

Introduction: Nondualism, Ontology, and Anthropology


Chapter 1. Anthropology and the Synthetic a Priori: Wittgenstein and Merleau-Ponty
Chapter 2. Blind Faith and the Binding of Isaac—the Akedah
Chapter 3. Excursus I: Sacrifice as Human Existence
Chapter 4. Counter-Sacrifice and Instrumental Reason—the Holocaust
Chapter 5. Bourdieu’s Anti-dualism and “Generalized Materialism”
Chapter 6. Habermas’s Anti-dualism and “Communicative Rationality”


Chapter 7. Technological Efficacy, Mythic Rationality, and Non-contradiction
Chapter 8. Epistemic Efficacy, Mythic Rationality, and Non-contradiction
Chapter 9. Contradiction and Choice among the Dinka and in Genesis
Chapter 10. Contradiction in Azande Oracular Practice and in Psychotherapeutic Interaction


Chapter 11. Epistemic and Ethical Gain
Chapter 12. Transcending Dualism and Amplifying Choice
Chapter 13. Excursus II: What Good, Ethics?
Chapter 14. Anthropology and the Generative Primacy of Moral Order

Conclusion: Emancipatory Selfhood and Value-Rationality

Notes References

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