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The all-or-nothing syndrome and the human condition

Pina-Cabral, Joao (2009) The all-or-nothing syndrome and the human condition. Social Analysis, 53 (2). pp. 163-176. ISSN ISSN 0155-977X, Online ISSN: 1558-5727. (doi:10.3167/sa.2009.530210) (KAR id:31202)

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Throughout the second half of the twentieth century, anthropologists failed to elaborate on theoretical concepts such as the ‘human condition’. In face of the fact that they did not abandon their scientific calling or the label ‘anthropology’, this must surely be taken as surprising. The article argues that this silence is possible due to an ideational performance here called the ‘all-or-nothing syndrome’. This depends on a skeptical fallacy: the condition of those who, because they cannot have it all, despair of having what is there to be had. The article also explores the Davidsonian notions of ‘indeterminacy’ and ‘underdetermination’ as possible paths out of this quandary. It suggests an approach to ethnographic knowledge based on the principles that underscore the mechanisms of control that engineers call ‘fuzzy logic’.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.3167/sa.2009.530210
Uncontrolled keywords: all-or-nothing syndrome, Davidson, human condition, indeterminacy, truth, underdetermination
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > Social and Cultural Anthropology
Depositing User: Joao de Pina Cabral
Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2012 11:51 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 09:28 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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