Anthropology, Ethnology All books
How can violence can be put in the service of religion ? What political gains can be made from cruelty ? How does a belief system encompassing hatred end in the massacre of entire populations ? Through reflections on, amongst other things, the Bible, Muslim law, the situation in Colombia, the ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia and the genocide of the Rwandan Tutsi, this book, the product of a seminar organised at the Collège de France by Françoise Héritier in 1995, benefits from a multi-disciplined approach in order to identify and understand a phenomenon which has occasionally plunged societies into a destructive frenzy. Françoise Héritier is a professor at the Collège de France where she heads the Laboratory of Social Anthropology.
Where do our ideas come from ? Some, just from ourselves, or at least we believe so, but the majority come from others which we then pass on in our turn. The age-old philosophical question on the origins of ideas is analysed here in relation to their mode of dissemination. In his search for the natural element of culture, Dan Sperber presents in this book an epidemiology of ideas which describes how they spread by passing from one person to another, undergoing transformations which are in the same category as mutations. He also investigates how these ideas establish themselves in the long-term by occupying our mental world without our conscious knowledge, which allows us to participate in our culture. Dan Sperber, an anthropologist, is the research director of CNRS.
The author explores the taboo regarding the incest of the second type which concerns blood relations of a same sex who share the same sexual partner. She makes us understand that the categories which we use to determine what is incestuous and what is not are founded on representations of the identical and the different, which are themselves derived from the difference in the sexes.
Is the sense of morality universal, is it inherent to human nature? The members of this symposium gathered around Jean-Pierre Changeux ponder the diversity of moralities and question themselves about the conflicts due to cultural differences and the possibility of attaining a common morality which would be intrinsic to human nature.