Rise and Fall of Essentialist Social Theories: Recapitulation and Critique
AbstractThis article is a recapitulation and critique of the rise and fall of essentialist social theories from the Antiquities through the modern period; more emphasis will, however, be placed on modern social theories. The article tries to give an overview of discourses that would cumulatively lead to the eventual development of intercultural discourses. It will also devote a section in which it goes back to the Antiquities in order to test for any subjectivist marks that are identifiable with ancient proto-anthropological representations of the cultural other; and this, in order to see if they are said to lend problems for modern day theories of representation. This article will also note both the lowlights and the highlights of the period under consideration through estimates made from the view point of humanism; it hopes to establish a background against which an interpretive attitude would take shape in later periods which would develop hand in hand with the emergence of critical voices that animate twentieth century discourses. Accordingly, while I take as the lowlights of the essentialism of modernity the institutionalization of discourses that promote monologue and alterity, I take as the highlights the beginning of ruptures in modern train of thoughts; a beginning that is especially marked by the decline of idealist metaphysics and the attendant rise of hope owing to the turning up of critical vantages that seek to help concretize the human spirit in the primacy of openness, interpretation, communication, fusion, etc. Keywords: modernity, anthropology, critique, other, self
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