Fundamentals of Social Life

What is a social relationship? Is there an « essence » of man? What are the different systems of kinship? What does death tell us about human life? What are, after all, in the eyes of the anthropologist, the fundamentals of social life?
Addressing these questions, which constitute both the object of field investigations and the heart of social science reflection, Maurice Godelier identifies five preconditions of existence that outline a « human nature », to which is always added the unpredictable and open character of historical becoming.
Emphasizing the contributions of his discipline to the understanding of human societies in their diversity, Maurice Godelier vividly reviews the major milestones of his research, defends both methodological distancing and a sense of commitment, and draws up a portrait of the anthropologist as a scholar of all humanity, in contrast to a certain post-modern discourse.

  • Maurice Godelier

    A world-renowned anthropologist, CNRS gold medalist, and winner of the Alexander von Humboldt International Prize in Social Sciences, Maurice Godelier is the author, among other classics, of La Production des Grands Hommes (1982), Les Métamorphoses de la parenté (2004), and L'Interdit de l'inceste (2021).

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