Sunday, December 4, 2011


Edward Viveiros De Castro addressing a 2003 conference on the subject of 'anthropology and science:'

"'And is a kind of zero-relator, a relational mana of sorts - the floating signifier of the class of connectives - whose function is to oppose the absence of relation, but without specifying any relation in particular. 'And' covers all thinkable connections, and therefore allows one to say all sayable things about the terms it connects [...]"

"But maybe not. Maybe there is a relation which 'and' excludes, perhaps because it is not a true relation - the relation of identity. Who would dream of giving a physics conference the title 'Physics and Science'? Physics is Science! We have to be able to imagine that anthropology isn't constitutively a science, at least not all the time, in all respects and in all relations, in order for us to imagine this contingent connection expressed in the formula 'anthropology and science'. A relation can be contrived, then, between 'and,' the minimal relator, and 'is,' the maximal substantializer, poles between which all our discourses and sciences are distributed. Now, if anthropology 'is' a science of something, it is undoubtedly the comparative science of the relations that make us human. But since comparing is relating and vice-versa, our discipline is twice over the science of the 'and,' that is, of universal relational immanence. Not of the 'is', therefore, and still less of the 'ought', - but simply of the 'and'. "

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