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Anthropology and Inheriting Traditional Practices

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This essay seeks to develop and illustrate an approach to comparison based on ad hoc frames. A frame is defined by a question, to which different thinkers can be seen as offering complementary and/or competing responses. Pursuing a middle ground between universalist conceptions of comparison and particularist rejections of comparison, this approach brings various positions into dialogue in a manner that is not inherently totalizing. The article draws extensively on Hegel's philosophy of religion to articulate this approach to comparison and its presuppositions. The second section of the essay seeks to illustrate the value of this approach by using the question of how traditional practices are inherited to frame a comparison of Hegel on habit and the Confucian thinker Xunzi on ritual. This comparison functions principally to indicate the process of comparison and suggest the value of pursuing this comparison in greater depth.
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Keywords: Hegel; Xunzi; anthropology; comparative ethics; habit; self

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-06-01

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