Choice and Morality in Anthropological Perspective

Essays in Honor of Derek Freeman

Edited by George N. Appell & Triloki N. Madan

Hardcover : 9780887066061, 248 pages, July 1988

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Table of contents




I. Introduction

Derek Freeman: Notes Toward an Intellectual Biography
G. N. Appell and T. N. Madan

Selected Bibliography of Derek Freeman

Introduction to the Essays
G. N. Appell

II. Theoretical Constructs, Meaning, and the Analysis of Choice Behavior

1. Emergent Structuralism: The Design of an Inquiry System to Delineate the Production and Reduction of Social Forms
G. N. Appell

2. From Choice to Meaning
George Devereux

3. Corpus Morale Collectivum: Social Anthropology Without Tears?
Peter Lawrence

4. The Morality of Exchange
D. K. Feil

III. Filial Ambivalence and the Moral Order in Choice Behavior

5. Like Father, Like Son: Filial Ambivalence and the Death of Fathers in Kalauna
Michael W. Young

6. The Son as Savior: A Hindu View of Choice and Morality
T. N. Madan

IV. The Dialectic Between Destiny and Decision: Nomethetic and Ideographic Conceptions of Anthropology

7. The Ethnographer's Choices
Gilbert H. Herdt

8. In the Thrown World: Destiny and Decision in the Thought of Traditional Africa
Michael Jackson

V. Biological Givens and Symbol Choice

9. The Fetal and Natal Origins of Circumcision and Other Rebirth Symbols
Michael A. H. B. Walter



This book explores choice behavior as constrained by culture, biology, and psychoanalytic processes in a variety of ethnographic contexts in Southeast Asia, Oceania, and Africa—the arena in which the controversy between Derek Freeman and anthropologist Margaret Mead's ideas of culture first developed. It also examines the interface between a nomothetic anthropology and a hermeneutic, idiographic anthropology, raising the critical question as to how ethnographic "knowledge" of another culture is achieved and transmitted to others.

Freeman rejects an exclusive reliance on either culture or biology as key to explaining human behavior, proposing instead an interactionist paradigm. Fundamental to this paradigm is choice behavior, which is intrinsic to our biology and basic to the formation of culture: for cultures are the accumulation of socially sanctioned past choices. However, the greater the freedom to choose, the greater the scope for good or bad, and the greater the need for ethics, rules, and laws for defining prohibited alternatives. Choice and Morality investigates these themes. Its authors examine the emergent nature of social reality as a result of choice behavior and illustrate the complexity of Freeman's theoretical position.

George N. Appell, Ph. D. is Senior Research Associate in the Department of Anthropology at Brandeis University. Triloki N. Madan is Professor of Sociology at the Institute of Economic Growth, University of Delhi, India.