Mary Douglas – excellent read

Sated, exhilarated, fully funned, twinkled and nicely ironized, after Mary Douglas’ How Institutions Think, 1986. An unlikely date for such British anthropology (then writing from US choice, cosmopolitan academia, Syracuse UP) – the effect is to recast the view of the said date.

A minx, using the marginal informality of the lecture genre, which is also a genre for authorization of academic maturity and election, to give herself elbow room.

But then also the remarkable – probably fairly provocative – call in reference to Durkheim and fallen-out-of-date functionalisms, coupled with the sollicitation of Fleck (via Merton was it?), 1930s germanophone history of science. Genesis of a medical fact. On syphilis i believe, and translated 1979 – so there’s your motivation for the dialogue engaged, and the history of discussion recontextualised, reconnected.

Her mood is fun in any context – funnest now, as I gravitate amongst my first objets trouvés de Fantaisies scientifiques.

And the animus : an anthropology of, an anthropological critique of. One of the final, perorational figures : John Rawls’ 1971 Theory of Justice, and « defending the premises of liberal philosophy », 126.

An anthropological critique to psychology (theories of cognition), moral philosophy and dilemma tropes ( the individual-vs-society category itself), liberal philosophy and « rational choice » theory (ie economics), information theory, game theory, philosophy of science and sociology of science, history of logic, network analysis, market research, international economy…


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