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The Western Illusion of Human Nature: With Reflections on the Long History of Hierarchy, Equality and the Sublimation of Anarchy in the West, and Comparative Notes on Other Conceptions of the Human Condition
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The Western Illusion of Human Nature: With Reflections on the Long History of Hierarchy, Equality and the Sublimation of Anarchy in the West, and Comparative Notes on Other Conceptions of the Human Condition

4.20  ·  Rating Details  ·  86 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
Reflecting the decline in college courses on Western Civilization, Marshall Sahlins aims to accelerate the trend by reducing "Western Civ" to about two hours. He cites Nietzsche to the effect that deep issues are like cold baths; one should get into and out of them as quickly as possible. The deep issue here is the ancient Western specter of a presocial and antisocial huma ...more
Paperback, 112 pages
Published June 24th 2008 by Prickly Paradigm Press
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Bryn Hammond
Jun 25, 2015 Bryn Hammond rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-history
On a ‘contempt for the human’ in Western ideas, that infiltrates every area of thought because it is in our Greek underpinnings.

The Judeo-Christian tradition is often blamed for our negativity towards the species, and I’ve often wondered sadly (yet with hope) what we’d be without the concept of Original Sin, in our heads’ history. But I’ve also been sick of ancient Greeks and their vaunted influence. I’m sorry – Sahlins is here asked to write in pamphlet-style, so I’ll write a pamphlet-style rev
...more
Anthony D Buckley
Feb 16, 2011 Anthony D Buckley rated it it was amazing
Prickly Paradigm Press has taken to printing “pamphlets”, shortish polemical works by important thinkers. This is the first I have seen, and it is pretty good. Its convoluted title is an agreeable spoof based on the titles of pamphlets from earlier times. The discussion itself, however, is no spoof.

Sahlins is an influential American social anthropologist, best known for a collection of essays, Stone Age Economics, dealing with hunters and gatherers. Here, he addresses a more abstract question, t
...more
Jason Williams
May 10, 2009 Jason Williams rated it really liked it
It's one of the better cold baths I've taken. As a critical-cultural theory enthusiast, it wasn't all new to me, although I hadn't known that Adams plagiarized Hobbes plagiarized Thucydides, or that Western cynicism went back that far (I knew Plato was kind of a dick, but not with such tradition behind him). With the overall argument about human nature, coupled with the assault on Western cynicism that has a history of self-fulfilled prophecies of fascism, I think Sahlins presents (almost) every ...more
Phakin
Dec 16, 2014 Phakin rated it it was amazing
"ในขณะทีมานุษยวิทยาแบบของเราเสนอวา มนุษยมีเนือแทโดยกำเนิดเปนสัตว ทีจำตองอาศัยวัฒนธรรมควบคุมไว - เพราะหากเรายังคงความเปนสัตวไวอยางครบถวน เรากยังคงเปนสัตวทีอยูเบืองลาง - ความคิดของชาวอเมริกันอินเดียกลับเหนวา สัตวนันเคยเปนมนุษย และยังจำตองเปนมนุษยอยูตอไป แมวาจะไมเปนมนุษยอยางชัดเจนนัก"- Viveiros de Castro

ดีงามมาก ๆ แนะนำเลย โดยเฉพาะสำหรับคนทีไมไดสนใจงานแนวมานุษยวิทยาเลย

ขอเสนอหลัก ๆ ของซาหลินสคือชีใหเหนวา คอนเซปตเรืองภาวะธรรมชาติ (State of Nature) ทีเปนหัวใจของการถกเถียงทางการเมือง ปรัชญา ฯลฯ ในปัจจุ
...more
Malte
Feb 29, 2016 Malte rated it really liked it
It is a short pamphlet, easily read and effectively makes the point that the debate about human nature for the last 2500 years basically has not progressed from an argument between "bad and savage" or "good and angel-like", and a medicine, politics and metaphysics that accompanies both positions. You can appreciate that Sahlins reduced this foolish history to a short book (as it says in the preface, it is like a cold bath: one should get into and out of it as quick as possible).

The comparative n
...more
Amari
Sep 04, 2009 Amari rated it it was amazing
Very, very good. Very good indeed. A bit involved at times, as one would expect, but mostly fairly easy reading. Calls into question just about everything, even if one has already considered the fundamental questions Sahlins addresses.
Ryan
Apr 16, 2012 Ryan rated it really liked it
An interesting and informal essay on the history of Western views of human nature. I appreciate Sahlins for calling out the cynical, self-loathing and essentialist views on this topic.
Orde
This is a pamphlet all right. But nonetheless it is worth reading. Sahlins retraces the idea of human nature in the West so familiar to us in its hobbesian form. There the Greeks, witnesses to the birth of western civilization already argue over man the dangerous creature that has to be restrained by the state. Thus it's always, all through history basically the question: Athens or Sparta? Rule of the equal (although still rather in its origin an aristocratic concept) or monarchy? Hobbes reads T ...more
Brian
Dec 31, 2015 Brian rated it it was amazing
I re-read this like once a year to remind myself that not every philosophical tradition treats humankind as repressed, selfish, and violent, and that perhaps we don't need coercive structures to manage these allegedly inherent traits.
Colin Bradley
Sep 03, 2013 Colin Bradley rated it liked it
Fascinating connections drawn and ethnographic data presented. Fallacious argumentative structure and conclusions drawn.
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