Cover: The Institutions of Meaning: A Defense of Anthropological Holism, from Harvard University PressCover: The Institutions of Meaning in HARDCOVER

The Institutions of Meaning

A Defense of Anthropological Holism

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$58.50 • £46.95 • €52.50

ISBN 9780674728783

Publication Date: 03/11/2014


392 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches


Vincent Descombes is one of the most exciting philosophers writing in France today. Readers of The Institutions of Meaning in the Anglo-American world will discover some familiar ideas (holism, social practice theory of meaning), but developed in an original way and associated with modes of thought (anthropology, sociology) not usually encountered in this context. This book is sure to interest both philosophers working in the area of language and mind and people working in the area of social theory.—Charles Larmore, Brown University

This insightful and carefully argued book should put an end forever to the widespread tendency to understand social life in atomist terms. Descombes shows convincingly how the social meanings we live by are carried in the institutions and practices that we share. They are not just in our heads, but in the social spaces we inhabit.—Charles Taylor, McGill University

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Jacket: An Inquiry into Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns, by Bruno Latour, translated by Catherine Porter, from Harvard University Press

Honoring Latour

In awarding Bruno Latour the 2021 Kyoto Prize for Arts and Philosophy, the Inamori Foundation said he has “revolutionized the conventional view of science” and “his philosophy re-examines ‘modernity’ based on the dualism of nature and society.” Below is an excerpt from An Inquiry into Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns. For more than twenty years, scientific and technological controversies have proliferated in number and scope, eventually reaching the climate itself. Since geologists are beginning to use the term “Anthropocene” to designate the era of Earth’s history that follows the Holocene