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Philippe Descola

Natures in Question Collège de France Autumn Colloquium

Philippe Descola is an anthropologist and professor at the Collège de France, and holds the chair in the anthropology of nature.

With contributions by Geoffrey Lloyd, Jean-Noël Robert, Philippe Descola, Étienne Anheim, Stéphane Van Damme, Alain Wijffels, Frédéric Keck, Alain Prochiantz, Justin Smith, Anne Cheng, François Ost, Claudine Tiercelin, Marie-Angèle Hermitte, Alain Fischer, and Clément Sanchez
Nature is not what it used to be…
Due to the many meanings with which it has been endowed, nature has for a long time formed the principal axis for a number of oppositions in European thought: nature and culture, nature and the supernatural, nature and art, nature and spirit, nature and history…
An increasing number of studies, which are looked at in this book, cast doubt on the general nature of those categories and on their relevance. Today, for example, we know that many animals, such as finches and chimpanzees, are capable of exhibiting cultural differences, or that the most isolated ecosystems on the planet, in the interior of Australia and in Amazonia, bear the mark of human influence…
Is the erosion of the boundaries of nature absolute, or are we nonetheless witnessing the endurance of certain fundamental discontinuities between humans and non-humans?