The Category of the Person: Anthropology, Philosophy, History

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Michael Carrithers, Steven Collins, Steven Lukes
Cambridge University Press, Dec 27, 1985 - Psychology - 309 pages
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The concept that people have of themselves as a 'person' is one of the most intimate notions that they hold. Yet the way in which the category of the person is conceived varies over time and space. In this volume, anthropologists, philosophers, and historians examine the notion of the person in different cultures, past and present. Taking as their starting point a lecture on the person as a category of the human mind, given by Marcel Mauss in 1938, the contributors critically assess Mauss's speculation that notions of the person, rather than being primarily philosophical or psychological, have a complex social and ideological origin. Discussing societies ranging from ancient Greece, India, and China to modern Africa and Papua New Guinea, they provide fascinating descriptions of how these different cultures define the person. But they also raise deeper theoretical issues: What is universally constant and what is culturally variable in people's thinking about the person? How can these variations be explained? Has there been a general progressive development toward the modern Western view of the person? What is distinctive about this? How do one's notions of the person inform one's ability to comprehend alternative formulations? These questions are of compelling interest for a wide range of anthropologists, philosophers, historians, psychologists, sociologists, orientalists, and classicists. The book will appeal to any reader concerned with understanding one of the most fundamental aspects of human existence.
  

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Contents

A category of the human mind the notion of person the notion of self
1
The category of the person a reading of Mausss last essay
26
Categories concepts or predicaments? Remarks on Mausss use of philosophical terminology
46
Marcel Mauss and the quest for the person in Greek biography and autobiography
83
A modified view of our origins the Christian beginnings of modern individualism
93
Person and individual some anthropological reflections
123
Self public private Some African representations
141
Between the earth and heaven conceptions of the self in China
156
Purity and power among the Brahmans of Kashmir
190
Of masks and men
217
An alternative social history of the self
234
The person
257
Conclusion
282
Bibliography
302
Index
304
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About the author (1985)

Collins, twice a world champion, at middlewight and super-middleweight, is currently at the top in his sport. In Millstreet in March 1995 he faced his greatest challenge, Chris Eubank. He & his wife, Gemma, have 3 children, Caoimhe, Stevie, & Clodagh.

Steven Lukes is a professor of sociology at New York University. An emeritus Fellow of the British Academy and an editor of the "European Journal of Sociology", he is the author of "Emile Durkheim: His Life and Work" and, most recently, "Moral Relativism".

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