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 chain of lectures Claude Lévi-Strauss introduced in Tokyo in 1986. Written with an eye fixed towards the long run as his personal extraordinary profession was once drawing to an in depth, this quantity provides a synthesis of the author’s significant rules approximately structural anthropology, a box he helped identify. Critiquing insights of his previous 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 off with the statement that the cultural supremacy loved by means of the West for over centuries is at an finish. international wars and genocides within the 20th century have fatally undermined Western religion in humanity’s development via medical growth. Anthropology, in spite of the fact that, might be the automobile of a brand new “democratic humanism,” broadening conventional frameworks that experience constrained cross-cultural understandings of the human situation, and delivering a foundation for inquiries into what different civilizations, reminiscent of these of Asia, can teach.

Surveying an international near to the twenty-first century, Lévi-Strauss assesses a number of the dilemmas of cultural and ethical relativism a globalized society faces—ethical dimensions of financial inequality, the increase of alternative varieties of non secular fundamentalism, the promise and peril of genetic and reproductive engineering. A laboratory of idea beginning onto the long run, Anthropology Confronts the issues of the trendy World is a crucial addition to the canon of 1 of the twentieth-century’s so much influential theorists.

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But even countries that allow transparency seem to agree on the need to separate repro­ duction from sexuality, and even, as it were, from sensuality. To limit ourselves to the most simple case, that of sperm donation, public opinion judges it allowable only if it takes place in a lab­o­ra­tory and through the intervention of a doctor, an ar­ti­fi­cial method that excludes any personal contact, any sharing of emotions or eroticism between the donor and the receiver. And yet, for both sperm donation and egg donation, this preoccupation with having things take place anonymously seems to run counter to the universal situation, even in our own so­ci­e­ties, where that type of ser­vice is rendered “close to home”—albeit discreetly—more often than one would think.

32 THE END OF THE W EST ’ S C ULTURAL SUPRE M A C Y At the start of the Renaissance, the human universe was circumscribed by the limits of the Mediterranean Ba­sin. People had only an inkling that some­ thing more existed. But they had already understood that no portion of humanity could aspire to understand itself except with reference to others. In the eigh­teenth and nineteenth centuries, humanism expanded in concert with geographical exploration. China, India, and Japan were gradually added to the overall picture.

Yanagida 20 THE END OF THE W EST ’ S C ULTURAL SUPRE M A C Y Kunio’s monumental enterprise a century later appears still to have belonged within the tradition of that school, at least in the eyes of the Western observer. In Korea, anthropological research also began in the eigh­teenth century, with the work of the Silhak school, which was concerned with rural life and popular customs in its own country and not, as in Europe, among remote peoples. By collecting a multitude of little facts that, for a long time, historians judged unworthy of their attention, by fill­ing in the gaps and inadequacies of the written documents through direct observations, by attempting to learn how people recollect the past of their little group—or how they imagine it—and how they experience the present, we succeed in constituting archives of an original type and in setting up what Yanagida Kunio called bunkagaku, the “science of culture,” in a word, anthropology.

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