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This philosophy of anthropology section is within philosophy of social science, so the term 'anthropology' is here taken as short for social and cultural anthropology. Philosophy of anthropology aims to contribute to our understanding of anthropology as a discipline through doing philosophy. Most works within this category fall into one or more of the following areas. (1) Attempts to answer questions about the nature or value of anthropology, e.g. what distinguishes anthropology from other disciplines? is it possible to pursue  anthropology as a science? what moral obligations does anthropology give rise to? (2) Attempts to identify the commitments of a given type of anthropology, e.g. functionalist anthropology, structuralist anthropology; and also philosophical evaluations of these commitments. (3) Attempts to define more general concepts that are closely connected to anthropological research, e.g. the concept of a culture, the concept of a belief system; and also assessments of their value to anthropology.

Key works Wittgenstein 1967, Quine 1957, Jarvie 1967 and Davidson 1973 are key works written by philosophers. A number of key works are by anthropologists reflecting on their discipline. See Malinowski 1922 (introductory chapter), Radcliffe-Brown 1940, Evans-Pritchard 1961, Lévi-Strauss 1969, Geertz 1973, Harris 2001, Sperber 1985, Sperber 1996, Clifford & Marcus 1986, Spiro 1986, Spiro 1996, Strathern 1987, Strathern 1987, Strathern 1990, Moore 1988, Csordas 1990, Gell 1992, Gell 1994, Abu-Lughod 1996,  Henare et al 2007 and Ingold 2014
Introductions Jarvie 1967 and Sperber 1985 are good places to start. Hacker 1992 is useful for understanding Wittgenstein's criticisms of Frazer. Lynch 1997 serves well as an introduction to what a conceptual framework is and whether there can be alternative conceptual frameworks. Zahle 2016 provides information on how participant observation relates to the divide between the natural and social sciences.
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1493 found
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  1. What is Spoken of When We Speak About Being.Niel Bezrookove - manuscript
    τὰ ὄντα ἰέναι τε πάντα καὶ μένειν οὐδέν: Another look at being, asking what a interlocutor means to show by saying they feel themselves to be something. An ambiguity of the verb "to be" is disambiguated to reveal that it can be meant to show what something is and a process of being something. The relationship between being and essence is made by describing engagement through the encounter, giving us a non-exhaustive account of something's essence. Practice is then understood as (...)
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  2. Against the Diversity Objection to Group Worldview Description.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    This paper defends the practice of attributing a worldview to a group against the objection that this practice overlooks different views within the group and wrongly portrays the group as homogeneous.
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  3. Do Anthropologists Use Rational Actor Models? The Case of Marilyn Strathern.Terence Rajivan Edward - manuscript
    Economics uses rational actor models, but what about anthropology? I present an interpretation of the influential anthropologist Marilyn Strathern according to which she engages in a kind of rational actor modelling, but a kind that is different from economic modelling.
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  4. Searle’s Contradictory Theory of Social Reality.Danny Frederick - manuscript
    John Searle, in several articles and books, has contended that institutions incorporating status functions with deontic powers are created by collective acceptance that is not analysable into individual acceptance. I point out three self-contradictions in Searle’s exposition.
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  5. Art and the Anthropologists.Gregory Currie - unknown - In .
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  6. World-Estrangement as Negative Anthropology: Günther Anders's Early Essays.Hannes Bajohr - forthcoming - Thesis Eleven:072551361986386.
    Review essay about Günther Anders, Die Weltfremdheit des Menschen, Munich 2018.
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  7. Bones Without Flesh and (Trans)Gender Without Bodies: Querying Desires for Trans Historicity.Avery Everhart - forthcoming - Hypatia.
    In 2011 a 5000 year old 'male' skeleton buried in a 'female' way was discovered by an archaeological team just outside of modern-day Prague. This paper queries the impulse to name such a discovery as evidence of transgender identity, and bodies, in an increasingly ancient past. To do so, it takes up the work of Denise Ferreira da Silva, Sylvia Wynters, and Hortense Spillers as a means to push back against the impetus of naming such discoveries as transgender in order (...)
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  8. Respect for Subjects in the Ethics of Causal and Interpretive Social Explanation.Michael L. Frazer - forthcoming - American Political Science Review.
    Rival causal and interpretive approaches to explaining social phenomena have important ethical differences. While human actions can be explained as a result of causal mechanisms, as a meaningful choice based on reasons, or as some combination of the two, it is morally important that social scientists respect others by recognizing them as persons. Interpretive explanations directly respect their subjects in this way, while purely causal explanations do not. Yet although causal explanations are not themselves expressions of respect, they can be (...)
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  9. History and Structure in Anthropological Knowledge.G. Lantéri-Laura - forthcoming - Social Research: An International Quarterly.
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  10. Structural Dynamics in Political Anthropology: Some Conceptual Dilemmas.D. Kent Mccallum - forthcoming - Social Research: An International Quarterly.
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  11. Department of Sociology and Anthropology University ofGuelph.Ken Menzies - forthcoming - History of the Human Sciences.
  12. 13. Rhuthmology as Poetics and Historical Anthropology.Pascal Michon - forthcoming - Rhuthmos.
    Previous chapter Rhuthmology as Poetics and Historical Anthropology One of the unpublished sketches of The Birth of the Tragedy entitled The Dionysian Conception of the World ends up with a quite interesting theory of language, which anticipates some important features of discourse and poem theory developed in the second half of the 20th century. In order to accurately describe the Dionysian forms of expression, Nietzsche feels - Sur le concept de rythme – Nouvel article.
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  13. Marriage and its Limits.Daniel Nolan - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    Marriages come in a very wide variety: if the reports of anthropologists and historians are to be believed, an extraordinarily wide variety. This includes some of the more unusual forms, including marriage to the dead; to the gods; and even to plants. This does suggest that few proposed marriage relationships would require 'redefining marriage': but on the other hand, it makes giving a general theory of marriage challenging. So one issue we should face is how accepting we should be of (...)
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  14. Traditions in French Anthropology.Jean Pouillon - forthcoming - Social Research: An International Quarterly.
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  15. Discontents in Anthropology.Bob Scholte - forthcoming - Social Research: An International Quarterly.
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  16. Fear and Ethics in the Sundarbans. Anthropology in Amitav Ghosh’s "The Hungry Tide".Alessandro Vescovi - forthcoming - Governare la Paura. Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies.
    Amitav Ghosh's The Hungry Tide has been often interpreted from the point of view of postcolonial studies and environmental studies, overlooking the anthropological implications of the narrative. This paper investigates the worship and the myth of the sylvan deity Bonbibi, and of her counterpart, the demon Dakshin Rai. The goddess, endowed with an apotropaic function, protects the people who “do the forest” from the dangers of the wilderness, epitomized by tigers. According to anthropologist Annu Jalais, who accompanied Ghosh in the (...)
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  17. Paul Radin and Contemporary Anthropology.Arthur J. Vidich - forthcoming - Social Research: An International Quarterly.
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  18. Why Kinship is Progeneratively Constrained: Extending Anthropology.Robert A. Wilson - forthcoming - Synthese.
    The conceptualisation of kinship and its study remain contested within anthropology. This paper draws on recent cognitive science, developmental cognitive psychology, and the philosophy of science to offer a novel argument for a view of kinship as progeneratively or reproductively constrained. I shall argue that kinship involves a form of extended cognition that incorporates progenerative facts, going on to show how the resulting articulation of kinship’s progenerative nature can be readily expressed by an influential conception of kinds, the homeostatic property (...)
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  19. Measuring Non-Han Bodies: Anthropometry, Colonialism, and Biopower in China's South-Western Borderland in the 1930s and 1940s.Jing Zhu - forthcoming - History of the Human Sciences:095269512110499.
    This article examines the biopower of non-Han bodies by considering the intersections of anthropology, racial science, and colonial regimes. During the 1930s and 1940s, when extensive anthropometric research was being undertaken on non-Han populations in the south-western borderlands of China, several anthropologists studied non-Han groups under the aegis of frontier administration. Chinese scholars sought to generate the physical characteristics of ethnic minority groups in the south-west of China, through the methodology of body measurement, in order to identify forms of social (...)
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  20. Kinmaking, Progeneration, and Ethnography.Rob Wilson - 2022 - Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science 91:77-85.
    Philosophers of biology and biologists themselves for the most part assume that the concept of kin is progenerative: what makes two individuals kin is a direct or indirect function of reproduction. Derivatively, kinship might likewise be presumed to be progenerative in nature. Yet a prominent view of kinship in contemporary cultural anthropology is a kind of constructivism or performativism that rejects such progenerativist views. This paper critically examines an influential line of thinking used to critique progenerativism and support performativism that (...)
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  21. People of the Book: Empire and Social Science in the Islamic Commonwealth Period.Musa al-Gharbi - 2021 - Socius 7.
    Social science is often described as a product of 19th century Europe, and as a handmaiden to its imperial and colonial projects. However, centuries prior to the Western social science enterprise, Islamic imperial scholars developed their own ‘science of society.’ This essay provides an overview of the historical and cultural milieu in which 'Islamic' social science was born, and then charts its development over time through case studies of four seminal scholars -- al-Razi, al-Farabi, al-Biruni and Ibn Khaldun -- who (...)
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  22. Renegades or Liberals? Recent Reflections on the Boasian Legacies in American Anthropology. [REVIEW]Nicholas Barron - 2021 - History of the Human Sciences 34 (3-4):362-373.
  23. L'intelligenza artificiale e il mercato dell'ozio.Piercosma Bisconti & Davide Orsitto - 2021 - In Praecurrit Fatum. Roma: La Lepre Edizioni. pp. 167-178.
    La crescita esponenziale delle tecnologie di AI come il machine learning e le reti neurali, nonché l'integrazione tecnica dei sistemi cyber-fisici nella produzione, nei servizi logistici e nei processi industriali, rende il mondo dell'industria 4.0 sempre più vicino ed accessibile nei paesi industrializzati. La repentina transizione odierna dai processi di produzione di massa verso l'economia dell'informazione, che scaturisce da queste innovazioni, crea zone di ombra e penombra sul futuro incerto del mercato del lavoro umano. Come in ogni rivoluzione tecnologica, la (...)
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  24. Geoethics Beyond Enmeshment: Critical Reflections on the Post-Humanist Position in the Anthropocene.Vincent Blok - 2021 - In Geo-Societal Narratives. cham: pp. 29-54.
    In philosophical reflections on geoethics, it is primarily the question of what it means to be ‘part’ of the Earth system that is critically reflected upon. As the current geological era of the Anthropocene disrupts the dichotomy between Human agency and the Earth system, philosophers criticise a humanist account of geoethics and call for a post-humanist account. In this chapter, we critically engage with one specific proponent of the post-humanist position, Timothy Morton. We introduce his version of the post-humanist position (...)
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  25. Efficiency Versus Enjoyment: Looking After the Human Condition in the Transition to the Bio-Based Economy.Vincent Blok & Roeland Christiaan Veraart - 2021 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 34 (6):1-19.
    In this paper, we criticize the current focus of the bio-based economy on efficiency and control and demonstrate the contradictions that this causes. We elucidate these tensions by comparing the BBE to alternative conceptions of economy that emphasise the relevance of both the human condition and unfathomable nature in the macro ecological transition project. From Emmanuel Levinas’s philosophy, we take and extrapolate two major concepts—il y a and enjoyment—that help to re-evaluate the status of both nature and the human subject (...)
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  26. Parallel Structures: André Leroi-Gourhan, Claude Lévi-Strauss, and the Making of French Structural Anthropology.Jacob Collins - 2021 - History of the Human Sciences 34 (3-4):307-335.
    This article reframes our understanding of French structural anthropology by considering the work of André Leroi-Gourhan alongside that of Claude Lévi-Strauss. These two anthropologists worked at opposite poles of the discipline, Lévi-Strauss studying cultural objects, like myths and kinship relations; Leroi-Gourhan looking at material artifacts, such as stone tools, bones, arrowheads, and cave paintings. In spite of their difference in focus, these thinkers shared a similar approach to the interpretation of their sources: Each individual object was meaningful only as part (...)
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  27. Hat Sizes and Craniometry: Professional Know-How and Scientific Knowledge.Peter Cryle - 2021 - History of the Human Sciences 34 (2):46-65.
    This article examines the relation between commercial activity and knowledge-making, looking at hatmakers in order to open up a more general question about the overlap between the knowledge practices of 19th-century science and those of everyday commercial culture of the time. Phrenology also claims attention here, since it can be said to have occupied an intermediate position between science and commerce. From time to time during the first half of the century, phrenologists attended to hatmakers in the hope of gleaning (...)
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  28. Ampliando o “cuidado de si” em Foucault: Paul Veyne e sua nova forma de se fazer “Crítica” a partir de Marcel Mauss.Gustavo Ruiz da Silva - 2021 - Boletim Historiar 1 (8):3-21.
    Este artigo visa mapear como Marcel Mauss (no que concerne às questões da Dádiva e da Teoria da Reciprocidade) foi absorvido por Paul Veyne no que circunda dois estudos de casos: o primeiro deles sendo a noção de “Evergetismo”, trabalhada em “Le pain et le cirque: sociologie historique d'un pluralisme politique”; e o segundo deles a noção de “Imagem de si”, construída por Veyne para fazer uma “crítica”(conceito agora reformulado de modo positivo e não vingativo) à leitura do “cuidado de (...)
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  29. Hans-Georg Gadamer "Was Ist der Mensch?" / "What is Man?" (1944). Edited and Translated by Facundo Bey.Hans-Georg Gadamer & Facundo Bey - 2021 - Phainomena 116 (30):255-280.
    The essay “Was ist der Mensch?” appeared for the first time in December 1944 in the German magazine with a hundred years of tradition edited by the publisher J. J. Weber Illustrierte Zeitung Leipzig [Illustrated Magazine Leipzig]. This special cultural edition, entitled Der europäische Mensch [The European Man], which was distributed exclusively abroad, was to be the last volume of the magazine after its final regular issue in September 1994 (No. 5041). Only in 1947, the text was republished, with the (...)
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  30. Antiexcepcionalismo humano y el problema de la identidad.Mª Dolores García-Arnaldos - 2021 - Revista Iberoamericana de Bioética 16:1-10.
    El posthumanismo es un término que engloba numerosos análisis teóricos con un denominador común: el excepcionalismo humano, es decir, la posición privilegiada del ser humano respecto al resto del universo. El propósito de este artículo es analizar hasta qué punto la estructura no naturalista de lo humano ha difuminado la distinción tradicional entre lo humano y lo que no es humano y, al mismo tiempo, presentar brevemente el desacuerdo existente dentro del posthumanismo. El objetivo es cuestionar las múltiples formas en (...)
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  31. La completezza dell’incompletezza. Linee interpretative per un’analisi del desiderio di rinascere alla filosofia.Elia Gonnella - 2021 - Dialegesthai. Rivista Telematica di Filosofia 22.
  32. Ontologia del tra. Metamorfosi e incontro per un’antropologia fenomenologica.Elia Gonnella - 2021 - Itinera - Rivista di Filosofia E di Teoria Delle Arti 22:227-258.
    Metamorphosis seems problematic for our occidental point of view. Becoming in general is viewed as an error or exception by our classic standpoint. In fact, it is strongly against identity and law of non-contradiction: A is fundamentally something different from B and for A it is impossible to be at the same time B. We need to think A as what-becomes-B in order to make metamorphosis possible. Anyway, how can A become B? As a matter of fact, this very claim (...)
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  33. Digging the Channels of Inheritance: On How to Distinguish Between Cultural and Biological Inheritance.Maria Kronfeldner - 2021 - Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 376.
    Theories of cultural evolution rest on the assumption that cultural inheritance is distinct from biological inheritance. Cultural and biological inheritance are two separate so-called channels of inheritance, two sub-systems of the sum total of developmental resources traveling in distinct ways between individual agents. This paper asks: what justifies this assumption? In reply, a philosophical account is offered that points at three related but distinct criteria that (taken together) make the distinction between cultural and biological inheritance not only precise but also (...)
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  34. The Difficulty of Understanding: Complexity and Simplicity in Moral Psychological Description.Camilla Kronqvist & Natan Elgabsi - 2021 - Scientia Moralitas 6 (2):78-103.
    The social intuitionist approach to moral judgments advanced by social psychologist Jonathan Haidt presupposes that it is possible to provide an explanation of the human moral sense without normative implications. By contrast, Iris Murdoch’s philosophical work on moral psychology suggests that every description of morality necessarily involves evaluative features that reveal the thinker’s own moral attitudes and implicit philosophical pictures. In the light of this, we contend that Haidt’s treatment of the story about Julie and Mark, two siblings who decide (...)
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  35. Facing Janus: Reflections on Social and Political Change.Nicole Torres & Andrew Gurevich - 2021 - Anthropology of Consciousness 32 (1):107-119.
    This article is based on a conversation between the President of the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness and the Editor‐in‐Chief of its journal. The aim of this conversation is threefold: (1) to engage a broader audience within the field of the anthropology of consciousness, (2) to discuss the recent history of the organization and its current direction, and (3) to recognize why concrete efforts toward a practice of decolonization is essential to maintaining the relevance of an anthropology of consciousness.
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  36. Identifying the Explanatory Domain of the Looping Effect: Congruent and Incongruent Feedback Mechanisms of Interactive Kinds.Tuomas Vesterinen - 2021 - Journal of Social Ontology 6 (2):1-27.
    Winner of the 2020 Essay Competition of the International Social Ontology Society. -/- Ian Hacking uses the looping effect to describe how classificatory practices in the human sciences interact with the classified people. While arguably this interaction renders the affected human kinds unstable and hence different from natural kinds, realists argue that also some prototypical natural kinds are interactive and human kinds in general are stable enough to support explanations and predictions. I defend a more fine-grained realist interpretation of interactive (...)
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  37. Rethinking Incest Avoidance: Beyond the Disciplinary Groove of Culture-First Views.Robert A. Wilson - 2021 - Biological Theory 16 (3):162-175.
    The Westermarck Effect posits that intimate association during childhood promotes human incest avoidance. In previous work, I articulated and defended a version of the Westermarck Effect by developing a phylogenetic argument that has purchase within primatology but that has had more limited appeal for cultural anthropologists due to their commitment to conventionalist or culture-first accounts of incest avoidance. Here I look to advance the discussion of incest and incest avoidance beyond culture-first accounts in two ways. First, I shall dig deeper (...)
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  38. Der Anthropos im Anthropozän. Die Wiederkehr des Menschen im Moment seiner vermeintlich endgültigen Verabschiedung.Hannes Bajohr (ed.) - 2020 - De Gruyter.
    Mit dem Begriff des Anthropozäns kehrt der in der Folge des Poststrukturalismus lange verrufene Begriff des Menschen wieder in die Geisteswissenschaften zurück. Der Band betrachtet den Beitrag der philosophischen Anthropologie zur Anthropozändebatte, diskutiert das Verhältnis der Kategorie "Mensch" zu jener des "Anthropos" und der "Spezies" und untersucht "negative Anthropologie" als mögliche Zwischenstellung zwischen Post- und Neohumanismus.
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  39. The Ethics of Everyday Life: Moral Theology, Social Anthropology, and the Imagination of the Human. By Michael Banner. Pp Xiii, 223, Oxford University Press, 2014, £20.00/$35.00. [REVIEW]Nathan L. Cartagena - 2020 - Heythrop Journal 61 (2):372-373.
  40. L’anthropologie a-t-elle une philosophie?Philippe Descola, Emmanuel Alloa & Mariana Larison - 2020 - Cités 1:23.
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  41. The Human Swarm: How Our Societies Arise, Thrive, and Fall. [REVIEW]Hugh Desmond - 2020 - Quarterly Review of Biology 95:341-341.
    The rise and fall of societies has traditionally been subject matter for history and sociology, but with The Human Swarm, the author establishes the human society as a legitimate object of study for evolutionary biologists. Societies are different from groups of cooperating individuals in that they have a social identity that sets the terms for group membership. In ant colonies, identity is manifested by a unique scent; in whale pods, by unique sounds; and in human groups, by a wide range (...)
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  42. The Government of the Body: A Reconstruction of the Physiological Chapters in Nemesius of Emesa’s De Natura Hominis.David Lloyd Dusenbury - 2020 - Early Science and Medicine 25 (5):480-506.
    This contribution argues that the physiological and psychological chapters of Nemesius of Emesa’s highly influential conspectus of late-antique anthropology, De natura hominis, are not random memoranda on the human organism or disjecta membra extracted from a range of late-antique sources. On the contrary, it is claimed here that De natura hominis 6-28, in which the medical anthropology of the Platonic–Galenic tradition comes to the fore, mark a decisive phase in the argument of Nemesius’ text. The human is defined by Nemesius (...)
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  43. “Most Unusual” Beauty Contests: Nordic Photographic Competitions and the Construction of a Public for German Race Science, 1926–1935.Andrew D. Evans - 2020 - Isis 111 (2):284-309.
  44. Constructing the Field in Interwar Social Anthropology: Power, Personae, and Paper Technology.Freddy Foks - 2020 - Isis 111 (4):717-739.
  45. Il canto dell’entusiasmo. Quotidianità ed entusiasmo: un’analisi a partire da Karl Jaspers.Elia Gonnella - 2020 - Studi Jaspersiani 8:145-163.
    Starting from Jaspers’ analysis of attitudes in Psychologie der Weltanschauungen and analyzing their causes, we find an essential description of the human being. The human condition of being in the world (Heidegger, Jaspers) can be troubled (Freud, Jung). However, this is characteristic for human life (Jaspers, Schellenbaum). Among all attitudes, the enthusiastic one is the more consistent with human being’s dynamic nature (Bergson, Jaspers, Schellenbaum). The human being feels himself deeply touched (Scheler, Jaspers) and becomes stunned. The aim of the (...)
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  46. L'incommensurabilità della solitudine. Riflessioni sull'incontro.Elia Gonnella - 2020 - Dialegesthai. Rivista Telematica di Filosofia 21.
  47. L’Homme Parfait: L’Anthropologie Médicale de Harvey, Riolan, Et Perrault (1628-1688), Written by Sarah Carvallo, 2017. [REVIEW]Anita Guerrini - 2020 - Early Science and Medicine 25 (1):85-87.
  48. Inner Animalities: Theology and the End of the Human. By Eric Daryl Meyer. Pp. 228, NY, Fordham University Press, 2018, $32.00. [REVIEW]Daniel P. Horan - 2020 - Heythrop Journal 61 (2):347-348.
  49. Secular Translations: Nation‐State, Modern Self, and Calculative Reason by TalalAsad , Vii + 222 Pp. [REVIEW]Timothy Jenkins - 2020 - Modern Theology 36 (1):218-220.
  50. Was ist der Mensch? Ein Streifzug durch die philosophische Anthropologie.Geert Keil - 2020 - In Ulrich Lüke & Georg Souvignier (eds.), Der Mensch – ein Tier. Und sonst? Interdisziplinäre Annäherungen. Freiburg: Herder. pp. 19-44.
    1. Die Frage nach der Natur des Menschen und die Rede vom „Menschenbild“ 2. Die anthropologischen Definitionsformeln 3. Die Zuständigkeitsfrage 4. Die abenteuerliche Kürze der Definitionsformeln 5. Der Mensch-Tier-Vergleich 6. Warum sollte die menschliche Natur unwandelbar sein? 7. Kategorische und graduelle Unterschiede 8. Ausblick: Die Transformationsthese.
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