Archive for May 29th, 2010

Why I do what I do:

Luhrmann (1989: 382 and 438n.) reports an anecdote of Ernest Gellner’s: the philosophers Peter Winch and Alsadair MacIntyre, arguing about the limits of cross-cultural understanding, confused Evans-Pritchard’s work on the Nuer, a pastoral people who live in Southern Sudan and Western Ethiopia, with that on the Azande of South-Western Sudan, who do not keep cattle.  They held a public debate on the meaning of cattle among the Azande, to which they invited Evans-Pritchard.  ‘At the debate’s conclusion, Evans-Pritchard apparently remarked that he had little to add to the philosophical subtlety of the exchange, but that he wished to point out that there were no cattle among the Azande.’

From Esther Eidinow, Oracles, Curses, and Risk Among the Ancient Greeks. pp. 241n.

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