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Moral, believing animals : human personhood and culture

Author: Christian Smith
Publisher: Oxford [England] ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2003.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
"Smith suggests that human beings have a peculiar set of capacities and proclivities that distinguishes them significantly from other animals on this planet. Despite the vast differences in humanity between cultures and across history, no matter how differently people narrate their lives and histories, there remains an underlying structure of human personhood that helps to order human culture, history, and  Read more...
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Material Type: Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Christian Smith
ISBN: 0195162021 9780195162028
OCLC Number: 51098118
Description: vi, 164 pages ; 22 cm
Contents: 1. Introduction --
2. Human culture(s) as moral order(s) --
3. Believing animals --
4. Living narratives --
5. On religion --
6. The return of culture? --
7. Conclusion.
Responsibility: Christian Smith.
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Abstract:

What kind of animals are human beings? And how do our visions of the human shape our theories of social action and institutions? Christian Smith advances a creative theory of human persons and  Read more...

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"Well written and clearly argued, Moral Believing Animals is both a searching critique of recent social theory and an important first step toward the articulation of a richer model of human Read more...

 
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    schema:reviewBody ""Smith suggests that human beings have a peculiar set of capacities and proclivities that distinguishes them significantly from other animals on this planet. Despite the vast differences in humanity between cultures and across history, no matter how differently people narrate their lives and histories, there remains an underlying structure of human personhood that helps to order human culture, history, and narration. Drawing on important recent insights in moral philosophy, epistemology, and narrative studies, Smith argues that humans are animals with an inescapable moral and spiritual dimension. They cannot avoid a fundamental moral orientation in life, and this, says Smith, has profound consequences for how sociology must study human beings. Similarly, humans cannot escape living by one or another sacred narrative, and this too has important implications for sociology. Along the way, Smith advances a sustained critique of rational choice theory, sociobiology, and other accounts of human social life drawn from the naturalistic, antimentalist, noncultural tradition of Western social theory as badly misunderstanding the character of the human animal. By contrast, this work argues that all people are at bottom believers whose lives, actions, and institutions are constituted, motivated, and governed by narrative traditions and moral orders on which they inescapably depend." "This approach - which has profound consequences for how we think about knowledge, culture, social action, institutions, religion, and the task of the social sciences - will be of interest to scholars in sociology, social theory, religious and cultural studies, psychology, and anthropology."--Jacket." ;
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