ONE, TWO, THREE Cutting, Counting, and Eating

Common Knowledge 17 (1):111-116 (2011)


This piece is a response to Marilyn Strathern's article, “Binary License,” in the Common Knowledge symposium on “comparative relativism.” Arguing that, across noncoherent practices, there is room for different natures, the essay suggests that modes of relating (the briefly invoked example given is of divergent counting practices) do not need a shared conceptual apparatus in order to be combined. What is held in the juxtaposition of acts and practices seems to be the sense in which acts are not affected by how they are described. The main example given is of surgery, and the emphasis placed on how splitting open part of patient's body is never a matter of a point of view. But to know exactly what is going on in the operating theater, we might wish to ask how this act speaks to the act of intellectual bifurcation, splitting open what up to then had been a seamless argument. To know exactly what is going on in the operating theater, we might also wish to ask how this act speaks to persons cutting themselves off from one another

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