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Summary of Culture and Practical Reason

February 28, 2010

This is my last note on Sahlins’ Culture and Practical Reason. A friend of mine summarized the book as follows:

Sahlins considers what it is that makes capitalist societies different from so-called “primitive” societies—in the end he rejects any substantial distinction: capitalist societies are just as symbolically constituted (i.e., totemic) as primitive societies. It is just that our totems are intrinsically connected to bourgeois modes of production rather than kinship systems.

You probably wouldn’t know that was what the book was about given my prior comments, but this is a good summary of what Sahlins was working to accomplish.

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