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Beyond the Juxtaposition of Nature and Culture

Lawrence Krader, Interdisciplinarity, and the Concept of the Human Being

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Edited By Cyril Levitt and Sabine Sander

The essays contained in Beyond the Juxtaposition of Nature and Culture represent an attempt by scholars from Canada, Germany, and Mexico to come to grips with the innovative work of the American philosopher and anthropologist Lawrence Krader who has proposed nothing less than a new theory of nature, according to which there are at least three different orders—the material-biotic, the quantum, and the human—which differ from one another according to their different configurations of space-time, and which cannot be reduced the one to the others. Each author takes up Krader’s theory in relation to its impact on their own discipline: sociology, anthropology, the study of myth, the theory of labor and value, economics, linguistics, and aesthetics. The question of how nature and culture can be integrated within a theoretical framework which links them in difference and nexus and allows each their non-reductive space leads each of the contributors to move in their thinking beyond the old dualisms of materialism and idealism, fact and value, nature and culture.

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Variations of the Embodied Self: George H. Mead, Ernst Cassirer, and Lawrence Krader on the Human Being between Nature and Culture (Sabine Sander)

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Variations of the Embodied Self: George H. Mead, Ernst Cassirer, and Lawrence Krader on the Human Being between Nature and Culture

SABINE SANDER

Introduction

Throughout the history of philosophical anthropology, scholars have attempted to solve the conundrum of whether nature or culture exerts a greater influence on the development of the human being: are we solely the product of socialization within a particular culture, or is there an underlying nature that is genetically inherited and therefore universal to all of the human kind? Already in ancient sources, the study of language appealed to many thinkers as the paradigmatic approach for investigating this riddle. Newborns do not speak, but every infant learns a language or languages and thereby acquires the tools to live in the world. Many scholars tried to determine whether there is a natural tongue, a sort of inborn language, that humans would naturally speak if not raised within a specific linguistic-cultural realm. There are well-known experiments of this: for example, Egyptian King Psamtik, in 300 BC, brought two babies to a deaf-mute shepherd in the desert to find out what language they would start to speak. He assumed that Phrygian would be the original language, because their first word was bekos, Phrygian for bread. In all probability they were just imitating the bleating of the sheep as the only sounds they heard (Herodotus 440 BC, Book II, online).

The Medieval historian Salimbene di Parma...

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