Available Light Anthropological Reflections on Philosophical Topics

ISBN-10: 0691089566
ISBN-13: 9780691089560
Edition: 2001
Authors: Clifford Geertz
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Description: 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  More...

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Book details

List price: $32.95
Copyright year: 2001
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 7/22/2001
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 288
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.25" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.880
Language: English

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 Lightoffers 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.

Clifford Geertz, an American anthropologist, is known for his studies of Islam in Indonesia and Morocco and of the peasant economy of Java. But he is also the leading exponent of an orientation in the social sciences called "interpretation". Social life, according to this view, is organized in terms of symbols whose meaning we must grasp if we are to understand that organization and formulate its principles. Interpretative explanations focus on what institutions, actions, customs, and so on mean to the people involved. What emerges from studies of this kind are not laws of society, and certainly not statistical relationships, but rather interpretations, that is to say, understanding. Geertz taught for 10 years at the University of Chicago and has been the Harold F. Linder professor of social science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.

Preface
Acknowledgments
Passage and Accident: A Life of Learning
Overture
The Bubble
Changing the Subject
Waiting Time
Thinking as a Moral Act: Ethical Dimensions of Anthropological Fieldwork in the New States
Anti Anti-Relativism
The Uses of Diversity
The State of the Art
Waddling In
Culture War
Deep Hanging Out
History and Anthropology
"Local Knowledge" and Its Limits
The Strange Estrangement: Charles Taylor and the Natural Sciences
The Legacy of Thomas Kuhn: The Right Text at the Right Time
The Pinch of Destiny: Religion as Experience, Meaning, Identity, Power
Imbalancing Act: Jerome Bruner's Cultural Psychology
Culture, Mind, Brain / Brain, Mind, Culture
The World in Pieces: Culture and Politics at the End of the Century
The World in Pieces
What Is a Country if It Is Not a Nation?
What Is a Culture if It Is Not a Consensus?
Index

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