Available Light: Anthropological Reflections on Philosophical Topics

Available Light: Anthropological Reflections on Philosophical Topics

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by Clifford Geertz
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691089566

ISBN-13: 9780691089560

Pub. Date: 07/02/2001

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Clifford Geertz, one of the most influential thinkers of our time, here discusses some of the most urgent issues facing intellectuals today. In this collection of personal and revealing essays, he explores the nature of his anthropological work in relation to a broader public, serving as the foremost spokesperson of his generation of scholars, those who came of age

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Overview

Clifford Geertz, one of the most influential thinkers of our time, here discusses some of the most urgent issues facing intellectuals today. In this collection of personal and revealing essays, he explores the nature of his anthropological work in relation to a broader public, serving as the foremost spokesperson of his generation of scholars, those who came of age after World War II. His reflections are written in a style that both entertains and disconcerts, as they engage us in topics ranging from moral relativism to the relationship between cultural and psychological differences, from the diversity and tension among activist faiths to "ethnic conflict" in today's politics.

Geertz, who once considered a career in philosophy, begins by explaining how he got swept into the revolutionary movement of symbolic anthropology. At that point, his work began to encompass not only the ethnography of groups in Southeast Asia and North Africa, but also the study of how meaning is made in all cultures—or, to use his phrase, to explore the "frames of meaning" in which people everywhere live out their lives. His philosophical orientation helped him to establish the role of anthropology within broader intellectual circles and led him to address the work of such leading thinkers as Charles Taylor, Thomas Kuhn, William James, and Jerome Bruner. In this volume, Geertz comments on their work as he explores questions in political philosophy, psychology, and religion that have intrigued him throughout his career but that now hold particular relevance in light of postmodernist thinking and multiculturalism. Available Light offers insightful discussions of concepts such as nation, identity, country, and self, with a reminder that like symbols in general, their meanings are not categorically fixed but grow and change through time and place.

This book treats the reader to an analysis of the American intellectual climate by someone who did much to shape it. One can read Available Light both for its revelation of public culture in its dynamic, evolving forms and for the story it tells about the remarkable adventures of an innovator during the "golden years" of American academia.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691089560
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
07/02/2001
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.26(h) x 0.72(d)

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xv

I. Passage and Accident: A Life of Learning 3

Overture 3

The Bubble 3

Changing the Subject 11

Waiting Time 19

II. Thinking as a Moral Act: Ethical Dimensions of Anthropological Fieldwork in the New States 21

III. Anti Anti-Relativism 42

IV. The Uses of Diversity 68

V. The State of the Art 89

Waddling In 89

Culture War 97

Deep Hanging Out 107

History and Anthropology 118

"Local Knowledge" and Its Limits 133

VI. The Strange Estrangement: Charles Taylor and the Natural Sciences 143

VII. The Legacy of Thomas Kuhn: The Right Text at the Right Time 160

VIII. The Pinch of Destiny: Religion as Experience, Meaning, Identity, Power 167

IX. Imbalancing Act: Jerome Bruner's Cultural Psychology 187

X. Culture, Mind, Brain / Brain, Mind, Culture 203

XI.The World in Pieces: Culture and Politics at the End of the Century 218

The World in Pieces 218

What Is a Country if It Is Not a Nation? 231

What Is a Culture if It Is Not a Consensus? 240

Index 205

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