The Category of the Person: Anthropology, Philosophy, History

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Overview

The concept that people have of themselves as a 'person' is one of the most intimate notions that they hold. Yet the way in which the category of the person is conceived varies over time and space. In this volume, anthropologists, philosophers, and historians examine the notion of the person in different cultures, past and present. Taking as their starting point a lecture on the person as a category of the human mind, given by Marcel Mauss in 1938, the contributors critically assess Mauss's speculation that notions of the person, rather than being primarily philosophical or psychological, have a complex social and ideological origin. Discussing societies ranging from ancient Greece, India, and China to modern Africa and Papua New Guinea, they provide fascinating descriptions of how these different cultures define the person. But they also raise deeper theoretical issues: What is universally constant and what is culturally variable in people's thinking about the person? How can these variations be explained? Has there been a general progressive development toward the modern Western view of the person? What is distinctive about this? How do one's notions of the person inform one's ability to comprehend alternative formulations? These questions are of compelling interest for a wide range of anthropologists, philosophers, historians, psychologists, sociologists, orientalists, and classicists. The book will appeal to any reader concerned with understanding one of the most fundamental aspects of human existence.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521277570
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 309
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface; 1. A category of the human mind: the notion of person; the notion of self Marcel Mauss (translated by W.D. Halls); 2. The category of the person: a reading of Mauss's last essay N. J. Allen; 3. Categories, concepts or predicaments? Remarks on Mauss's use of philosophical terminology Steven Collins; 4. Marcel Mauss and the quest for the person in Greek biography and autobiography A. Momigliano; 5. A modified view of our origins: the Christian beginnings of modern individualism Louis Dumont; 6. Person and individual: some anthropological reflections J. S. La Fontaine; 7. Self: public, provate. Some African representations Godfrey Lienhardt; 8. Between the earth and heaven: conceptions of the self in China Mark Elvin; 9. Purity and power among the Brahmans of Kashmir Alexis Sanderson; 10. Of masks and men Martin Hollis; 11. An alternative social history of the self Michael Carrithers; 12 The person Charles Taylor; Conclusion; Steven Lukes; Bibliography; Index.

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