I’ve taken an entirely unintended break since the end of October from blogging. A combination getting serially infected my younger child’s viruses and bacterial infections and simultaneously getting obsessed with a demographic project that I’ll be blogging about in the Spring.
Also, it’s probably no surprise that devoting a series of coherent blog posts to the theme “Anthropology and Philosophy” is the kind of thing that one does rashly, emotionally. And once you’ve committed, you just have to figure it out.
So I’ve taken my time to try to get things they way I would like them. I hope that the next three posts will be worth the time.
Today, I’m posting Anthropology and Philosophy III, which addresses the limits of logic in human systems of symbolic representation. This leads us to the role of emotion in dealing with symbolic representations.
The post after that (IV in the series) will address Alfred Gell’s (1999) brilliant work on art from an anthropological perspective. More than anything else, Gell’s approach provides a major necessary (albeit insufficient) piece of a coherent biocultural theory of human evolution and identity.
The final post will address the emotional dimensions of agency, which constantly involves taking action and making irrational or non-rational choices in the face of symbolic and social dilemmas. This view helps us to understand how emotional systems may have co-evolved with the capacity for linguistic communication, causing the emergence of more prosocial behaviors in the hominin lineage over time. This view further helps us to understand how it is all too easy for humans to be emotionally swayed by irrational ritualized and mythologized narratives of socially excluding or committing violence against individuals representing identities symbolically framed as dangerous to the social order.
I’m happy to be back to blogging about our biocultural evolution and identity. And I hope to hear from you about your thoughts about these themes.
Gell, A. (1999). The Art of Anthropology: Essays and Diagrams. Berg Publishers.