Organisé par Martin FORTIER & Raphaël MILLIÈRE, avec le soutien du PhilMaster.
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« Debate : Anthropology comes to life. »
avec Tim INGOLD (University of Aberdeen) et Frédéric KECK (CNRS, LAS)

Anthropology is a sustained and disciplined inquiry into the conditions and potentials of human life. Yet generations of theorists, throughout the history of the discipline, have been at pains to expunge life from their accounts, or to treat it as merely consequential, the derivative and fragmentary output of patterns, codes, structures or systems variously defined as genetic or cultural, natural or social. Born of nature, moulded by society, impelled by the promptings of genetic predisposition and guided by the precepts of transmitted culture, human beings are portrayed as creatures whose lives are expended in the fulfilment of capacities bestowed at the outset. Beginning, as Clifford Geertz famously put it, “with the natural equipment to live a thousand kinds of life”, each of us is supposed to “end in the end having lived only one”. Life, in this view, is a movement towards terminal closure: a gradual filling up of capacities and shutting down of possibilities.
An interesting ambition would be to reverse this emphasis: to replace the end-directed or teleonomic conception of the life-process with a recognition of life’s capacity continually to overtake the destinations that are thrown up in its course. It is of the essence of life that it does not begin here or end there, or connect a point of origin with a final destination, but rather that it keeps on going, finding a way through the myriad of things that form, persist and break up in its currents. Life, in short, is a movement of opening, not of closure. As such, it should lie at the very heart of anthropological concern.

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