Anthropology Confronts the Problems of the Modern World by Claude Lévi-Strauss, Jane Marie Todd, Maurice Olender

By Claude Lévi-Strauss, Jane Marie Todd, Maurice Olender

Anthropology Confronts the issues of the fashionable 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 unusual profession was once drawing to an in depth, 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 dating among race, heritage, and civilization, Lévi-Strauss revisits the social matters 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 development. Anthropology, in spite of the fact that, will be the automobile of a brand new “democratic humanism,” broadening conventional frameworks that experience constrained cross-cultural understandings of the human situation, and offering a foundation for inquiries into what different civilizations, resembling these of Asia, can teach.

Surveying an international on the point of 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 types of spiritual fundamentalism, the promise and peril of genetic and reproductive engineering. A laboratory of inspiration commencing onto the longer term, Anthropology Confronts the issues of the fashionable World is a crucial addition to the canon of 1 of the twentieth-century’s such a lot influential theorists.

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Anthropology, following on the aristocratic humanism of the Renaissance and the bourgeois humanism of the nineteenth century, thus 35 THE END OF THE W EST ’ S C ULTURAL SUPRE M A C Y marked the advent, for the finite world that our planet had become, of a doubly universal humanism. In seeking its inspiration within the most humble soÂ�ciÂ�eÂ�ties, long held in contempt, anthropology proclaims that nothing human can be alien to humankind. It thus founds a democratic humanism that goes further than those that preceded it, those, that is, that were created for the privileged and on the basis of privileged civilizations.

I can offer you no better example than the testimony of an American anthropologist who was public affairs ofÂ�fiÂ�cer for General MacArthur during€the occupation of Japan. I read an interview with him in which he recounts how the publication of Ruth Benedict’s famous book The Chrysanthemum and the Sword in 1946 dissuaded the American occupiers from imposing on Japan the abolition of imperial rule, contrary to their first intention. Ruth Benedict, whom I knew well, had never gone to Japan before writing her book; and, as far as I know, she worked 43 THE END OF THE W EST ’ S C ULTURAL SUPRE M A C Y in€ very different fields.

Must we recognize the individual’s right to reproduce “alone,” so to speak? Does a child have the right to gain access to essential information concerning his sperm donor’s ethnic origin and general health? To what extent and within what limits can one violate the biological rules that the followers of most religious faiths continue to consider divinely instituted?

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