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The Realness of Things PastAncient Greece and Ontological History$
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Greg Anderson

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190886646

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190886646.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 23 June 2021

Other Ways of Being Human

Other Ways of Being Human

(p.71) 6 Other Ways of Being Human
The Realness of Things Past

Greg Anderson

Oxford University Press

To open Part Two (“The Many Real Worlds of the Past”), the book begins its ethical case for an ontological turn in history by establishing the past’s extraordinary ontological diversity. Drawing on a lengthy inventory of ethnographies and histories, the chapter adduces evidence for non-modern ontologies from a broad range of environments, including precolonial Mexico, India, Bali, and Polynesia, medieval Europe, Ming China, and the lifeworlds of various indigenous peoples in Amazonia, South East Asia, Melanesia, and Africa. The cumulative result is a panorama of ontological alterities, indicating wide historical variabilities in the essences and foundations of human existence, in the ways humans experience, say, personhood and subjectivity, kinship and sociality, materiality and ideality, mortality and rationality, humanity and divinity, and the sources, means, and ends of life itself. Yet the tools of our conventional historicism cannot account for these variabilities, since they all presuppose the truth of an ontology that prevails only in our capitalist modernity.

Keywords:   ontology, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, animism, multinaturalism, Marilyn Strathern, Philippe Descola, Ming China, Melanesia, Mexica, Medieval Europe

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