The guiding inspiration of this book is the attraction and distance that mark the relation between anthropology and philosophy. This theme is explored through encounters between individual anthropologists and particular regions of philosophy. Several of the most basic concepts of the discipline—including notions of ethics, politics, temporality, self and other, and the nature of human life—are products of a dialogue, both implicit and explicit, between anthropology and philosophy. These philosophical undercurrents in anthropology also speak to the question of what it is to experience our being in a world marked by radical difference and otherness.
In The Ground Between, twelve leading anthropologists offer intimate reflections on the influence of particular philosophers on their way of seeing the world, and on what ethnography has taught them about philosophy. Ethnographies of the mundane and the everyday raise fundamental issues that the contributors grapple with in both their lives and their thinking. With directness and honesty, they relate particular philosophers to matters such as how to respond to the suffering of the other, how concepts arise in the give and take of everyday life, and how to be attuned to the world through the senses. Their essays challenge the idea that philosophy is solely the province of professional philosophers, and suggest that certain modalities of being in the world might be construed as ways of doing philosophy.
This book will be of interest to social scientists, philosophers and literary scholars.
Introduction. Experiments between Anthropology and Philosophy: Affinities and Antagonisms
Veena Das, Michael Jackson, Arthur Kleinman, and Bhrigupati Singh
1. Ajàlá’s Heads: Reflections on Anthropology and Philosophy in a West African Setting
2. The Parallel Lives of Philosophy and Anthropology
3. The Difficulty of Kindness: Boundaries, Time, and the Ordinary
4. Ethnography in the Way of Theory
5. The Search for Wisdom: Why William James Still Matters
6. Eavesdropping on Bourdieu’s Philosophers
7. How Concepts Make the World Look Different: Affirmative and Negative Genealogies of Thought
8. Philosophia and Anthropologia: Reading alongside Benjamin in Yazd, Derrida in Qum, Arendt in Tehran
Michael M. J. Fischer
9. Ritual Disjunctions: Ghosts, Philosophy, and Anthropology
10. Henri Bergson in Highland Yemen
Steven C. Caton
11. Must We Be Bad Epistemologists? Illusions of Transparency, the Opaque Other, and Interpretive Foibles
12. Action, Expression, and Everyday Life: Recounting Household Events
Veena Das is Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Anthropology at The Johns Hopkins University.
Michael Jackson is Distinguished Professor of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School.
Arthur Kleinman is the Esther and Sidney Rabb Professor of Anthropology at Harvard University.
Bhrigupati Singh is Assistant Professor of Anthropology Brown University.