Contributions by Jocelyn Benoist, Andrew Brandel, Michael Cordey, Veena Das, Rasmus Dyring, Michael D. Jackson, Michael Lambek, Sandra Laugier, Marco Motta, Michael Puett, Lotte Buch Segal and Thomas Schwarz Wentzer
This volume examines an often taken for granted concept—that of the concept itself. How do we picture what concepts are, what they do, how they arise in the course of everyday life? Challenging conventional approaches that treat concepts as mere tools at our disposal for analysis, or as straightforwardly equivalent to signs to be deciphered, the anthropologists and philosophers in this volume turn instead to the ways concepts are already intrinsically embedded in our forms of life and how they constitute the very substrate of our existence as humans who lead lives in language.
Attending to our ordinary lives with concepts requires not an ascent from the rough ground of reality into the skies of theory, but rather acceptance of the fact that thinking is congenital to living with and through concepts. The volume offers a critical and timely intervention into both contemporary philosophy and anthropological theory by unsettling the distinction between thought and reality that continues to be too often assumed and showing how the supposed need to grasp reality may be replaced by an acknowledgement that we are in its grip. Contributors: Jocelyn Benoist, Andrew Brandel, Michael Cordey, Veena Das, Rasmus Dyring and Thomas Schwarz Wentzer, Michael D. Jackson, Michael Lambek, Sandra Laugier, Marco Motta, Michael J. Puett, and Lotte Buch Segal
Introduction: Life with Concepts Andrew Brandel and Marco Motta | 1 1 Concepts of the Ordinary Sandra Laugier | 29 2 How Life Makes a Conversation of Us: Ontology, Ethics, and Responsive Anthropology Rasmus Dyring and Thomas Schwarz Wentzer | 50 3 Crisscrossing Concepts: Anthropology and Knowledge-Making Veena Das | 73 4 The Potencie of Text: Shifting Concepts of Myth and Literature Andrew Brandel | 110 5 How Social Are Our Concepts? Jocelyn Benoist | 140 6 Living with Zombies: Forms of Death at the Core of the Ordinary Marco Motta | 155 7 Creating Worlds: Imagination, Interpretation, and the Subjunctive Michael J. Puett | 181 8 The Life Course of Concepts Michael D. Jackson | 197 9 On Sorcery: Life with the Concept Michael Lambek | 215 10 How Ethical Is Our Life with Concepts? Reflections on Shared Medical Decision Making Michael Cordey | 243 11 In the Know: The Pain of the Other in Torture Rehabilitation Lotte Buch Segal | 271 Acknowledgments | 291 References | 293 List of Contributors | 323 Name Index | 325 Subject Index | 329
Andrew Brandel is Lecturer on Social Studies at Harvard University.
Marco Motta is Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Bern.
Jocelyn Benoist is Professor of Philosophy at Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.
Michael Cordey is Assistant Diplômé in the Institut des Sciences Sociales at the Université de Lausanne.
Rasmus Dyring is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Aarhus University. Among Dyring’s works are “From Moral Facts to Human Finitude: On the Problem of Freedom in the Anthropology of Ethics” (HAU, 2018); “The Futures of ‘Us’: A Critical Phenomenology of the Aporias of Ethical Community in the Anthropocene” (Philosophy and Social Criticism, 2021); and “Ellen and the Little One: A Critical Phenomenology of Potentiality in Life with Dementia” (coauthored with Lone Grøn, Anthropological Theory, 2022).
Michael D. Jackson is Distinguished Visiting Professor of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School.
Michael Lambek is a professor of anthropology and the Canada Research Chair at the University of Toronto Scarborough. He has edited Ordinary Ethics and A Companion to the Anthropology of Religion, among many other works.
Sandra Laugier is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Contemporary Philosophy at Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.
Michael J. Puett is Walter C. Klein Professor of Chinese History and Anthropology at Harvard University.
Lotte Buch Segal teaches anthropology at the University of Copenhagen.
Thomas Schwarz Wentzer is Professor of Philosophy and History of Ideas at Aarhus University.