Social Science

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 added in Tokyo in 1986. Written with a watch towards the long run as his personal distinct occupation used to be drawing to a detailed, this quantity provides a synthesis of the author’s significant rules approximately structural anthropology, a box he helped identify. Critiquing insights of his past writings at the courting among race, historical past, and civilization, Lévi-Strauss revisits the social concerns that by no means ceased to fascinate him.

He starts with the commentary 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 development. Anthropology, despite the fact that, may be the motor vehicle of a brand new “democratic humanism,” broadening conventional frameworks that experience limited cross-cultural understandings of the human , and offering a foundation for inquiries into what different civilizations, resembling these of Asia, can teach.

Surveying a global on the point of the twenty-first century, Lévi-Strauss assesses many of the dilemmas of cultural and ethical relativism a globalized society faces—ethical dimensions of financial inequality, the increase of alternative types of spiritual fundamentalism, the promise and peril of genetic and reproductive engineering. A laboratory of idea commencing onto the long run, Anthropology Confronts the issues of the trendy World is a vital addition to the canon of 1 of the twentieth-century’s such a lot influential theorists.

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Although, in the main, French public opinion approves of medical assistance when it allows a married couple to solve a fertility prob­lem, the French are undecided in the case of an unmarried couple or a woman wishing to be inseminated with the frozen sperm of her deceased husband. And they become downright disapproving for a couple who wants to have a child after the woman has reached menopause, for a single woman, or for a ho­mo­sex­ual couple wishing to have a child. From a psychological and moral point of view, it 50 THREE G REAT C ONTE M PORARY PROBLE M S seems that the essential question is one of transparency.

Human beings undoubtedly developed different cultures because of geographical distance, the particular characteristics of the environment in which they found themselves, and their ignorance about other types of so­ci­e­ties. But, alongside the differences attributable to isolation, there are equally im­por­tant ones attributable to proximity: a desire to set oneself apart, to distinguish oneself, to be oneself. Many customs came into being not from some internal necessity or favorable accident but solely from the desire not to be outdone by a neighboring group, one that subjected to precise norms a realm of thought or an activity about which the first group had not thought to promulgate rules.

It sees social life as a system, all of whose aspects are organically linked. The anthropologist readily acknowledges that, to achieve a more thorough knowledge of a certain type of phenomenon, it is indispensable that he divide up the whole, just as the jurist, the economist, the demographer, and the po­lit­i­cal scientist do. But what the anthropologist seeks is the common form, the invariant properties that reveal themselves behind the most diverse kinds of social life. To illustrate with an example certain considerations that may appear overly abstract, let us see how an anthropologist apprehends a few aspects of Japanese culture.

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