IMAGES OF MAN: A History of Anthropological Thought by Annemarie de Waal Malefijt

IMAGES OF MAN: A History of Anthropological Thought

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This sound history of ""the proper study of mankind"" valuably extends the definition of ""anthropology"" all the way back to the speculations of the Greeks -- but it should have been sub-subtitled ""A History of Anthropological Thought for Anthropologists."" What could have been an exciting and colorful book if written to edify the intelligent layman was undertaken rather to broaden the minds of professionals; so it's interesting rather than exciting, a detailed and humanizing grad-school textbook. Malefijt identifies such figures as Herodotus, who traveled widely and kept a curious and objective account of customs, and the Stoics, who understood that culture is learned not God-given, as forerunners of ethnographic practice and ethnological thought. As she moves forward through history, she has two concerns: to reevaluate known figures in the history of ideas (Montaigne, Machiavelli, Locke, Hegel, Marx) as proto-anthropologists, and to identify lesser-known men who were important to the development of the anthropological cast of mind (ever heard of Pietro Martire d'Anghiera or Samuel Pufendorf?). Malefijt describes the impact of the great exploratory voyages on the idea of man and ably shows the pendulum-swings of Western thought across the centuries, towards and away from the idea of social ""evolution"" and progress-towards-civilization, away from and back to the idea that certain basic human qualities are inborn (recently revived in new form by Chomsky and Levi-Strauss). She moves through the birth of ""anthropology"" proper in the 19th century to good, complex chapters on American anthropology, psychological anthropology, new developments since World War II, and there's a principled chapter on the responsibilities of the science with regard to race. The reader will be most comfortable if already somewhat familiar with anthropological concepts.

Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 1974
Publisher: Knopf