How does the ontological turn in anthropology redefine what modern, Western ontology is in practice, and offer the beginnings of a new ontological pluralism?
On a planet that is increasingly becoming a single, metaphysically homogeneous world, anthropology remains one of the few disciplines that recognizes that being has been thought with very different concepts and can still be rendered in terms quite different than those placed on it today. Yet despite its critical acuity, even the most philosophically oriented anthropology often remains segregated from philosophical discussions aimed at rethinking such terms. What would come of an anthropology more fully committed to being a source of (post-) philosophical concepts? What would happen to philosophy if it began to think with and through these concepts? How, finally, does comparison condition these two projects ? This book addresses these questions from a variety of perspectives, all of which nonetheless hold in common the view that “philosophy” has been displaced and altered by the modes of thought of other collectives. An international group of authors, including Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, Marilyn Strathern, Philippe Descola, and Bruno Latour, explore how the new anthropology/philosophy conjuncture opens new horizons of critique.
Introduction / Part I: Comparison, symmetry, pluralism / 1. Varieties of Ontological Pluralism, Philippe Descola / 2. On Ontological Delegation: The Birth of Neoclassical Anthropology, Gildas Salmon / 3. Connections, Friends and their Relations: An Issue in Knowledge-making, Marilyn Strathern / 4. We Have Never Been Pluralist: On Lateral and Frontal Comparisons in the Ontological Turn, Matei Candea / Part II: Conceptual Alteration: Theory and Method / 5. Anthropological Meditations, or, The Discourse on Comparative Method, Patrice Maniglier / 6. The Contingency of Concepts: Transcendental Deduction and Ethnographic Expression in Anthropological Thinking, Martin Holbraad / 7. Breaking Out of the Modern Circle: On Conceptual Issues of Critical Anthropology, Pierre Charbonnier / Part III: Life and Agency Outside Nature / 8. Thinking with Thinking Forests, Eduardo Kohn / 9. Nature from the Greeks: Empirical Philology and the Ontological Turn in Historical Anthropology, Arnaud Mace / 10. Moving to Remain the Same: Towards an Anthropological Theory of Nomadism, Morten Axel Pedersen / Part IV: Cosmopolitics and Alterity / 11. Metaphysics as Mythophysics. Or, Why I Have Always Been An Anthropologist, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro / 12. Metamorphosis of Consciousness: Concept, System, and Anthropology in the Thought of American Channels, Peter Skafish / 13. Ordering What Is: The Political Implications of Ontological Knowledge, Baptiste Gille / 14. A Dialog About a New Meaning of Symmetric Anthropology, Bruno Latour / Notes on Contributors / Bibliography / Index
the collection assembles an impressive cast of anthropologists and philosophers from across the Anglo-French academic divide ... a profound disciplinary recomposition arising from the encounter between anthropology and philosophy.
This is an exceptionally stimulating collection of essays by seriously brilliant writers. If you think the ontological turn is simply something to be for or against this is not for you. But if you are after some powerfully reflexive thinking that puts the comparative at the foundation of existence then this will not only make you ‘turn’, it will make you jump, dig tunnels and fly.
Inspired the turn among some anthropologists away from culture and nature, the editors of Comparative Metaphysics gather together a who's who of contemporary French, British, and American philosophy and anthropology to ask what discipline has the best chance to define the multiple, irreducible forms of thought that count as ontology and thus to open thought to the crisis of contemporary anthropogenic climate change.
Pierre Charbonnier is a researcher in Philosophy at the National Center for Scientific Research, EHESS, Paris.
Gildas Salmon is a researcher in Philosophy at the National Center for Scientific Research, EHESS, Paris.
Peter Skafish is a maître de conférences associé at the Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Sociale and the Collège de France, Paris.