Anthropology Confronts the Problems of the Modern World by Claude Lévi-Strauss

By Claude Lévi-Strauss

Anthropology Confronts the issues of the trendy World is the 1st English translation of a sequence of lectures Claude Lévi-Strauss brought in Tokyo in 1986. Written with an eye fixed towards the long run as his personal individual occupation used to be drawing to a detailed, this quantity provides a synthesis of the author’s significant principles approximately structural anthropology, a box he helped identify. Critiquing insights of his past writings at the courting among race, heritage, and civilization, Lévi-Strauss revisits the social concerns that by no means ceased to fascinate him.

He starts with the remark that the cultural supremacy loved via the West for over centuries is at an finish. worldwide wars and genocides within the 20th century have fatally undermined Western religion in humanity’s development via medical growth. Anthropology, although, could be the automobile of a brand new “democratic humanism,” broadening conventional frameworks that experience constrained cross-cultural understandings of the human , and supplying a foundation for inquiries into what different civilizations, comparable to these of Asia, can teach.

Surveying a global near to the twenty-first century, Lévi-Strauss assesses the various dilemmas of cultural and ethical relativism a globalized society faces—ethical dimensions of monetary inequality, the increase of other different types of spiritual fundamentalism, the promise and peril of genetic and reproductive engineering. A laboratory of notion commencing onto the longer term, Anthropology Confronts the issues of the fashionable World is a vital addition to the canon of 1 of the twentieth-century’s so much influential theorists.

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They result for the most part from indirect reconstructions on the basis of written documents. We are linked to our past, not by an oral tradition that pre26 THE END OF THE W EST ’ S C ULTURAL SUPRE M A C Y sumes lived contact with people, but by books and other documents stacked in libraries, by means of which critics venture to reconstitute the faces of their authors. And, at present, we communicate with the vast majority of our contemporaries through all sorts of intermediaries—written documents or adminis­ trative mechanisms—which enormously increase our contacts but which at the same time confer on them an inauthenticity.

Perhaps anthropology reveals an evolution of the same type, though the content and meaning of each stage differs from those conceived by Comte. We now know that peoples called “primitive,” who know nothing of agriculture and stock breeding or who practice only a rudimentary agriculture, who sometimes lack a knowledge of pottery and weaving, and who live primarily on hunting, fishing, and the gathering of wild plants, do not have a gnawing fear 38 THE END OF THE W EST ’ S C ULTURAL SUPRE M A C Y of starving to death or anxiety about being unable to survive in a hostile environment.

And fi­nally, these relations and notions pervade the entire field of life and social activities. Real, postulated, or inferred, they entail rights and duties that are well de­fined and different for each type of related individual. More generally, we can say that, in these so­ci­e­ties, kinship and marriage constitute a common language capable of expressing ev­ery social relationship: not only familial but also economic, po­lit­ic­ al, religious, and so forth. 46 THREE G REAT C ONTE M PORARY PROBLE M S SPERM DONORS, SURROGATE MOTHERS, AND SOCIAL FILIATION The first imperative of a human society is to reproduce itself, in other words, to maintain itself over time.

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