Successor to Claude Levi-Strauss at the College de France, Philippe Descola has become one of the most important anthropologists working today, and Beyond Nature and Culture has been a major influence in European intellectual life since its French publication in 2005. Here, finally, it is brought to English-language readers. At its heart is a question central to both anthropology and philosophy: what is the relationship between nature and culture? Culture - as a collective human making, of art, language, and so forth - is often seen as essentially different than nature, which is portrayed as a collective of the nonhuman world, of plants, animals, geology, and natural forces. Descola shows this essential difference to be, however, not only a specifically Western notion, but also a very recent one. Drawing on ethnographic examples from around the world and theoretical understandings from cognitive science, structural analysis, and phenomenology, he formulates a sophisticated new framework, the "four ontologies" - animism, totemism, naturalism, and analogism - to account for all the ways we relate ourselves to nature.
By thinking beyond nature and culture as a simple dichotomy, Descola offers nothing short of a fundamental reformulation by which anthropologists and philosophers can see the world afresh.
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Number of pages: 488
Weight: 794 g
Dimensions: 238 x 163 x 33 mm
"Few books have the merit to counter the established way of thinking by reformulating great questions on a new basis.... It is nevertheless what Philippe Descola's book achieves.... An important book which will be received passionately." (Le Monde)"