Reason and Morality

Reason and Morality

Reason and Morality

Reason and Morality

Synopsis

This clear, critical examination makes Hegels arguments fully accessible. Hegel 's system is considered as a whole and examines the wide range of problems that it was designed to solve.

Excerpt

The ASA conference on the topic to which this volume is devoted, originally entitled 'Rationality and Rationales', took place in April, 1984 and was in celebration of the Malinowski Centennial year. Appropriately it was held at the London School of Economics where, in 1927, Malinowski was appointed to the first chair in Social Anthropology at the University of London. It was Malinowski's insistence that there is no fact without theory. The contributors to this volume, in following the lead of Malinowski as supreme ethnographer, reverse his insight to read: there is no decent theory without data. It is through detailed comparative ethnography and thereby through the experience of multiplicity that Social Anthropology can contribute to the on-going debate about rationality, and in so doing help to reformulate ways of asking about such standard philosophical issues as translation, relativism, universalism, truth, knowledge-and human nature.

The contributors to this volume question the tendency of many ethnographers and philosophers to adhere uncritically to a received philosophy of mind and human nature. They are also sceptical about the notion that human nature is already charted and as such comprised of specific features that are universally shared. Through sensitive ethnography we see that some cultures may have more sophisticated theories of human nature than our own, or ones that are equally interesting and 'valid'. While we might recognize that aspects of Western scientific knowledge of the material world are superior to other knowledges, we cannot assume the same about Western theories of mind, society, and social behaviour. It would be self-defeating to compare 'modes of thought' in the conviction that the intellectual capacities of humankind are already known absolutely and that the forms of correct reasoning are definitively exemplified in the thoughts of the anthropologist and the Western scientist. The contributors are therefore uneasy about the idea that our own notion of humankind in its enthronement of Reason can provide a firm basis from which to judge the capacities either of ourselves or other human beings.

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