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As Wide as the World Is WiseReinventing Philosophical Anthropology$
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Michael Jackson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780231178280

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231178280.001.0001

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Identity and Difference

Identity and Difference

(p.51) 2. Identity and Difference
As Wide as the World Is Wise

Michael Jackson

Columbia University Press

Chapter two considers the seemingly incompatible perspectives of philosophy and ethnography. While philosophy has traditionally presumed to make universal claims about the human condition, modern socio-cultural anthropology has, for the most part, avoided such claims, preferring a vision of human diversity, ethnic distinctiveness, and moral relativism. The challenge for reinventing philosophical anthropology is working out how we can accommodate both these orientations, recognizing difference and sameness, dissonance and consonance. I evoke Schönberg’s atonal music, Adorno’s negative dialectics, and Keats’ negative capability in taking up the question of how it is possible to do justice to both our empirical knowledge of the linguistic, cultural, and individual diversity of humankind and our quest to identify modes of thought, action and being that are common to all humanity and, in many cases, are shared with other life forms.

Keywords:   Philosophy, ethnography, Philosophical anthropology, subjectivity

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