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Metaphysical Community The Interplay of the Senses and the Intellect by Greg Urban

Metaphysical Community The Interplay of the Senses and the Intellect


Metaphysical Community The Interplay of the Senses and the Intellect by Greg Urban

Winner, Senior Book Prize, American Ethnological Society Starting with the post-structuralist idea that truth systems are lodged in discourse, and that discourse varies from society to society, Greg Urban seeks to discover the nature and extent of that variation. His journey to an Amerindian society in which dreams are more prominent than everyday aspects of the sensible world leads him to radically reformulate one of the main problematics of Western thought: the relationship between our sensations of the world and the understandings we form of them. Metaphysical Community proposes that this dichotomy comes from the interplay between two sides of discourse-its intelligible side as a carrier of meanings, and its sensible side as thing-in-the-world that must be replicated. This insight leads to the heart of the book-the exploration of the uneasy tension that binds experience and understanding, phenomena and noumena. Urban challenges basic assumptions that underlie social and cultural anthropology and much of the social sciences and humanities. His provocative insights will be of interest to all those concerned with anthropology, cultural studies, literary criticism, the sociology and politics of culture, and philosophy.


This is one of the most sophisticated explanations available on the many and varied links between language and culture.... By constantly juxtaposing the sensible and the intelligible, [Urban] shows the adaptive qualities of culture and communication, and casts an old controversy about social organization in a totally new light. As abstract as this may sound, it is concretized with one of the best explications in print about the process of ethnographic fieldwork and how an outsider can go from observations of behavior to analysis and interpretation of historical and sociocultural patterns and processes. * Choice *

About the Author

Greg Urban is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Book Info

Publication date

30th November 1995


Greg Urban

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University of Texas Press


304 pages


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