Capturing the Ineffable: An Anthropology of Wisdom

Edited by Philip Y. Kao and Joseph S. Alter

© 2020

Grounded in ethnographic case studies that examine experiences from which wisdom emerges, Capturing the Ineffable provides a rigorous analysis of the sociocultural context of wisdom in the contemporary world. Each chapter in the volume deals with different aspects and showcases how communities in different contexts - nursing homes, religious organizations, corporations, and monastic institutions, for example - engage with the ineffability of wisdom.

Contributors draw from a range of disciplines and cross-cultural and historical data in order to interpret the meaning and value of wisdom as a human endeavour. This book also represents an anthropological method for evaluating various philosophical and scientific approaches to understanding wisdom, including how wisdom is learned and taught. Readers will be able to appreciate how action, emotion, uncertainty, and cultural systems come to bear on wisdom as a value in human life and expression. In the end, Capturing the Ineffable reveals how the conception and paradoxical nature of wisdom dispels the dichotomies of self/other, structure/agency, known/unknown, nature/culture, and the like. What is at stake is a recasting of wisdom as a particular kind of anthropological endeavour and, thus, a return to and modification of philosophical anthropology.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 264 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.3in x 0.8in x 9.3in
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SKU# SP004954

  • PUBLISHED MAY 2020

    From: $63.75

    Regular Price: $85.00

    ISBN 9781487503130
  • PUBLISHED MAY 2020

    From: $63.75

    Regular Price: $85.00

Quick Overview

Wisdom transcends knowledge but is only meaningful and relevant in context. This book explores the tensions and paradoxes associated with the ineffability of wisdom in a range of social and cultural contexts.

Capturing the Ineffable: An Anthropology of Wisdom

Edited by Philip Y. Kao and Joseph S. Alter

© 2020

Grounded in ethnographic case studies that examine experiences from which wisdom emerges, Capturing the Ineffable provides a rigorous analysis of the sociocultural context of wisdom in the contemporary world. Each chapter in the volume deals with different aspects and showcases how communities in different contexts - nursing homes, religious organizations, corporations, and monastic institutions, for example - engage with the ineffability of wisdom.

Contributors draw from a range of disciplines and cross-cultural and historical data in order to interpret the meaning and value of wisdom as a human endeavour. This book also represents an anthropological method for evaluating various philosophical and scientific approaches to understanding wisdom, including how wisdom is learned and taught. Readers will be able to appreciate how action, emotion, uncertainty, and cultural systems come to bear on wisdom as a value in human life and expression. In the end, Capturing the Ineffable reveals how the conception and paradoxical nature of wisdom dispels the dichotomies of self/other, structure/agency, known/unknown, nature/culture, and the like. What is at stake is a recasting of wisdom as a particular kind of anthropological endeavour and, thus, a return to and modification of philosophical anthropology.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 264 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.3in x 0.8in x 9.3in
  • Reviews

    "Capturing the Ineffable opens up new rich conversations surrounding the elusive concept of wisdom, a topic that has not attracted ethnographic work in depth."


    Huon Wardle, Department of Social Anthropology, University of St Andrews

    "Research on wisdom has had a resurgence in the past decade in psychological science and philosophy over the past decade. Kao and Alter have produced a volume that draws on the perspective of anthropology to frame an understanding of wisdom across cultures and meanings. From literature to practices of various kinds, the authors address how wisdom is sought, recognized, and communicated, adding new depth and illuminating context to the study of wisdom."


    Howard C. Nusbaum, Professor of Psychology at the University of Chicago and Director of the Chicago Center for Practical Wisdom
  • Author Information

    Philip Y. Kao is a research associate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh.


    Joseph S. Alter is the director of the Asian Studies Center and a professor of anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh.
  • Table of contents

    Introduction: Toward an Anthropology of Wisdom
    Philip Kao, University of Pittsburgh

    Part I. Seeking Wisdom
    Revelations of Delusion: Becoming Isomorphic to the Ugrund, Richard Doyle, Penn State
    The Social Life of the Inexpressible: English Benedictine Mysticism, the Ineffable, and the Sublime, Richard Irvine, University of St Andrews
     
    Part II. Discerning Wisdom
    How Wisdom in Discovered: Discretion and Emotional Insights in Naikan Meditation in Japan, Clark Chilson, University of Pittsburgh
    Navigating Wisdom and Time in the Context of Aging and Eldercare, Philip Kao, University of Pittsburgh

    Part III. Transmitting Wisdom
    Yoga and Wisdom: Reflections on the Body at the Intersection of Epistemology and Ontology, Joseph Alter, University of Pittsburgh
    The Social Construction of Wisdom in Institutions, Charlotte Linde

    Part IV. Narrating Wisdom

    Of Uncertainty, Sophiology and Contemporary Governance: Zen and the Art of Scenario Planning, James Faubion, Rice University
    Grappling with the Ineffable in Three African Situations: An Ethnographic Approach, Wim van Binsbergen, African Studies Centre, Leiden

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