Wednesday, 6 January 2016


Typically in normal conditions, humans see humans as humans, animals as animals and spirits(if they see them) as spirits; however animals (predators) and spirits see humans as animals(as prey) to the same extent that animals (as prey) see humans as spirits or as animals (predators). By the same token, animals and spirits see themselves as humans: they perceive themselves as (or become) anthropomorphic beings when they are in their own houses or villages and they experience their own habits and characteristics in the form of culture-  they see their food as human food (jaguars see blood as manioc beer, vultures see the maggots in rotting meat as grilled fish, etc.), they see their bodily attributes (fur, feathers, claws, beaks etc.) as body decorations or cultural instruments, they see their social system as organized in the same way as human institutions are (with chiefs, shamans, ceremonies, exogamous moieties, etc.).  This 'to see as' refers literally to percepts and not analogically to concepts, although in some cases the emphasis is placed more on the categorical rather than on the sensory aspect of the phenomenon.

Cosmological Deixis and Amerindian Perspectivism
Author(s): Eduardo Viveiros de Castro
Source: The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol. 4, No. 3 (Sep., 1998), pp. 469- 488

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