Successor to Claude Levi-Strausa at the College de France, Philippe Descola has become one of the most important anthropologists working today, and Beyond Nature and Culture has been a major influence in European intellectual life since its publication in 2005. Here, finally, it is brought to English-language readers. At its heart is a question central to both anthropology and philosophy: what is the relationship between nature and culture? Culture - as a collective human making, of art, language, and so forth - is often seen as essentially different than nature, which is portrayed as a collective of the nhuman world, of plants, animals, geology, and natural forces. Descola shows this essential difference to be, however, t only a specifically Western tion, but also a very recent one. Drawing on ethgraphic examples from around the world and theoretical understandings from cognitive science, structural analysis, and phemelogy, he formulates a sophisticated new framework, the four ontologies - animism, totemism, naturalism, and analogism - to account for all the ways we relate ourselves to nature. By thinking beyond nature and culture as a simple dichotomy, Descola offers thing short of a fundamental reformulation by which anthropologists and philosophers can see the world afresh.
Phillippe Descola holds the chair of anthropology and heads the Laboratoire d'anthropologie sociale at the College de France. He also teaches at the Ecole des hautes etudes en sciences sociales. Among his previous books to appear in English are In the Society of Nature and The Spears of Twilight. Janet Lloyd has translated more than seventy books from the French by authors such as Jean-Pierre Vernant, Marcel Detienne, and Philippe Descola.