Copernican kinship: an origin myth for the category

Gregory Schrempp


In many traditional mythologies, kinship constitutes the privileged idiom of both unity and diversity in the cosmos. In "post-mythological" thought, categories logically conceived attempt to take over the cosmic role of kinship. I compare two accounts of the nature and genesis of categories—those by Durkheim and Mauss on one hand, and by Lakoff and Johnson on the other. Neither account severs ties with mythology or kinship; moreover, the structure of the category, like kinship, offers a mode of projecting the human as the cosmic. To the long-standing anthropological concern with the ways in which humans impose their diverse categories on the world, we should add a concern with the ways category-theorists impose their diverse worlds on the category.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14318/hau1.1.004