Download A Companion to Moral Anthropology by Didier Fassin PDF

By Didier Fassin

A significant other to ethical Anthropology is the 1st collective attention of the anthropological dimensions of morals, morality, and ethics. unique essays via overseas specialists discover some of the currents, methods, and matters during this very important new self-discipline, analyzing subject matters akin to the ethnography of moralities, the research of ethical subjectivities, and the exploration of ethical economies.

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The sacred, which Durkheim said was “revealed” to him while reading The Religion of the Semites by Robertson Smith (Durkheim 1975a: 404), is a quality attributed to certain beings that gives them equal powers to attract and repel, rendering them objects of both desire and prohibition. What characterized the sacred, then, was its ambivalence. And it was defined negatively: the sacred is what is not profane, what must be distanced from and in no case confused with the profane but also what attracts the profane, what the profane inclines toward without ever being able to touch.

The recent development of new approaches of morality and ethics in anthropology and sociology, on the one hand, and in cognitive and evolutionary disciplines, on the other hand, invite one to exchanges and debates. A critical discussion of some of the premises of the sciences of the mind, such as the hard-wired structure of morality, the universality of moral grammars, the moral progress of mankind as a result of evolution or the precedence of moral emotions over reasoning – some of them disputed within these disciplines – can be engaged only on the basis of in-depth comprehension and mutual recognition.

Indeed, that is what gives duty primacy over good. Here Durkheim seems to align himself with Kant: morality must be founded not on an objectively qualified good but rather on duty as “objective necessity” for action – precisely Kant’s words. For Kant, the commandment specific to moral law must be formally characterized as an imperative that determines “will as will,” not as a means to attain a desired effect. It is neither subjective like maxims nor conditioned like precepts, which are merely hypothetical imperatives.

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