Michel de Montaigne’s Contributions to Cultural Anthropology

Zao LIU

Abstract


Modern cultural anthropology was not established until the 19th century. But some of the basic questions in cultural anthropology about man and culture were discussed by the precursors of the field. Questions such aswhy peoples and their cultures are different and how these differences should be dealt with. In this article the author posits that Michel de Montaigne has made significant contributions to the questions and the notions of man and culture in cultural anthropology. Drawing on Montaigne’s major essays “Of Experience,” “Of Customs,” “Of Coaches,” and “Of Cannibals,” the author demonstrates that Montaigne is a strong believer in understanding and evaluating an individual culture in its own context. His beliefs are grounded in his epistemological skepticism and his views of reason, experience, difference, resemblance, customs, man, culture, and nature. Expanding the discussion of Montaigne’s concepts of man and culture in the context of some relevant cultural approaches in modern cultural anthropology, the author argues that Montaigne may be well associated with the cultural pluralist approach in anthropology.


Keywords


Michel de Montaigne; Reason; Experience; Resemblance; Custom, Man; Culture; Nature

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References


De Ley, H. (1985). The movement of thought: an essay on intellect in seventeenth-century France. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Geertz, C. (1973). The interpretation of cultures: Selected essays. New York: Basic Books, Inc.

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Honigmann, J. (1976). The development of anthropological ideas. Homewood, IL: The Dorsey Press.

Kaplan, D., & Manners, R. (1972). Culture theory. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

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Leaf, M. (1979). Man, mind, and science: a history of anthropology. New York: Columbia University Press.

Malefijt, A. (1974). Images of man: A history of anthropological thought. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Montaigne, M. (2003). The complete works: Essays, travel journal, letters. In D. M. Frame (Trans.). New York: Alfred A. Knopf.




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/7702

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