Living with Concepts

Living with Concepts

Anthropology in the Grip of Reality


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This volume examines an often taken for granted concept—that of the concept itself. How do we picture what concepts are, what they do, how they arise in the course of everyday life? Challenging conventional approaches that treat concepts as mere tools at our disposal for analysis, or as straightforwardly equivalent to signs to be deciphered, the anthropologists and philosophers in this volume turn instead to the ways concepts are already intrinsically embedded in our forms of life and how they constitute the very substrate of our existence as humans who lead lives in language.

Attending to our ordinary lives with concepts requires not an ascent from the rough ground of reality into the skies of theory, but rather acceptance of the fact that thinking is congenital to living with and through concepts. The volume offers a critical and timely intervention into both contemporary philosophy and anthropological theory by unsettling the distinction between thought and reality that continues to be too often assumed and showing how the supposed need to grasp reality may be replaced by an acknowledgement that we are in its grip.

Contributors: Jocelyn Benoist, Andrew Brandel, Michael Cordey, Veena Das, Rasmus Dyring and Thomas Schwarz Wentzer, Michael D. Jackson, Michael Lambek, Sandra Laugier, Marco Motta, Michael J. Puett, and Lotte Buch Segal