Sam Grace's Reviews > The Interpretation of Cultures

The Interpretation of Cultures by Clifford Geertz
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's review
Jul 20, 08

bookshelves: non-fiction, academic, favorites, anthropology-recs
Recommended for: anyone who can handle academic stuff
Read in July, 2008 — I own a copy

I'm rereading this and am amazed at how much I missed the last time I picked it up. Rather than attempt to break down why Geertz is so great or what he covers in this book, I'm just gonna include a couple of my favorite quotations:

"Believing, with Max Weber, that man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun, I take culture to be those webs, and the analysis of it to be therefore not an experimental science in search of laws, but an interpretive one in search of meaning." (5)

"...where an interpretation comes from does not determine where it can be impelled to go." (23)

"it may be in the cultural particularities of people - in their oddities - that some of the most instructive revelations of what it is to be generically human are to be found." (43)

In particular his essay "The Impact of the Concept of Culture on the Concept of Man" gave me an entirely new perspective relative to the doctrine of the psychic unity of mankind.

There's no doubt this is academic reading, but if there were ever a book that deserved to be read by everyone interested in culture, this is it.
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