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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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Krader’s Encompassing “Weltanschauung”: His Concepts of Art, Techne, and Science, and the Ethno-history of Mesoamerica (Brígida von Mentz)

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Krader’s Encompassing “Weltanschauung”: His Concepts of Art, Techne, and Science, and the Ethno-history of Mesoamerica

BRÍGIDA VON MENTZ

Introduction

Lawrence Krader’s view of the world (Weltanschauung) was encompassing and was oriented always beyond the dichotomy of nature and culture. In this essay to honor his work and legacy, and especially his last opus,1 Noetics: The Science of Thinking and Knowing (2010), I want to focus on that worldview by briefly referring to his non-dogmatic and non-speculative way of understanding the varieties of human knowledge: those generated by the physical, biological, or mathematical sciences, and scientific achievements more generally, but also those contained in myths, poetry, psychology, and art. I will also briefly discuss his concepts of art, techne, and science in his Noetics, and relate them to the ethno-history of Mesoamerica.

The eighteenth-century German writer Johann Gotthold Ephraim Lessing once wrote that “books make you wise but not a human being” [“Bücher machen gelehrt doch nicht zum Menschen”2]. Therefore, to portray Lawrence Krader as a human being, and not only as a wise man, I will include some subjective and personal experiences I had with our author, refer to the circumstances of our meeting, and describe what themes we discussed during more than ten years of reciprocal visits and correspondence. I shall also mention his relation to Mexico and to the Mesoamerican culture (that I will review more closely here), and to...

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