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Social Life Of Numbers / Edition 1

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Overview

Unraveling all the mysteries of the khipu—the knotted string device used by the Inka to record both statistical data and narrative accounts of myths, histories, and genealogies—will require an understanding of how number values and relations may have been used to encode information on social, familial, and political relationships and structures. This is the problem Gary Urton tackles in his pathfinding study of the origin, meaning, and significance of numbers and the philosophical principles underlying the practice of arithmetic among Quechua-speaking peoples of the Andes.

Based on fieldwork in communities around Sucre, in south-central Bolivia, Urton argues that the origin and meaning of numbers were and are conceived of by Quechua-speaking peoples in ways similar to their ideas about, and formulations of, gender, age, and social relations. He also demonstrates that their practice of arithmetic is based on a well-articulated body of philosophical principles and values that reflects a continuous attempt to maintain balance, harmony, and equilibrium in the material, social, and moral spheres of community life.

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Editorial Reviews

Hispanic American Historical Review
This is an extraordinary book. It is easily readable even for the non-mathematically inclined and non-Andeanists. It deals with issues of why one counts, what is counted, and how arithmetic operations are used in social life.
— Enrique J. Mayer
Hispanic American Historical Review - Enrique J. Mayer
This is an extraordinary book. It is easily readable even for the non-mathematically inclined and non-Andeanists. It deals with issues of why one counts, what is counted, and how arithmetic operations are used in social life.
Hispanic American Historical Review
This is an extraordinary book. It is easily readable even for the non-mathematically inclined and non-Andeanists. It deals with issues of why one counts, what is counted, and how arithmetic operations are used in social life.
-- Enrique J. Mayer
Booknews
Drawing on fieldwork in communities around Sucre, in south-central Bolivia, Urton (anthropology, Colgate U.) argues that the origin and meaning of numbers were and are conceived of by Quechua-speaking peoples in ways similar to their ideas about gender, age and social relations. He also demonstrates that their practice of arithmetic is based on a well-articulated body of philosophical principles and values that reflects a continuous attempt to maintain balance, harmony, and equilibrium in the material, social, and moral spheres of community life. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780292785342
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/1997
  • Edition description: 1ST UNIVER
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables
Acknowledgments
1. Anthropology and the Philosophy of Arithmetic
2. The Cardinal Numbers and Their Social Relations
3. Ordinal Numerals: The Reproduction and Succession of Numbers
4. Yupay: Counting, Recounting, and the Fabric of Numbers
5. Quechua Arithmetic as an Art of Rectification
6. Numbers and Arithmetic in Pre-Hispanic and Colonial Andean Societies
7. Conclusions
Appendix: Quechua Number Symbols and Metaphors Notes
Bibliography Index
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