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Relaciones. Estudios de historia y sociedad

On-line version ISSN 2448-7554Print version ISSN 0185-3929


SCHAFFHAUSER, Philippe. Reflections on a Paradox: The Ethnocentric Relativism of Pragmatism. Relac. Estud. hist. soc. [online]. 2009, vol.30, n.120, pp.21-63. ISSN 2448-7554.

The problem of the relationship between relativism and ethnocentrism is a recurring one in anthropological thought. Indeed, it has become a cul-de-sac, as the discussion it generated has become bogged down in normative posturing around the question of how to study and respect cultural diversity. The article approaches this relationship by adopting a pragmatist perspective that, while making it possible to clarify some of the more confusing aspects of this issue, also introduces an epistemological and normative bias that I call "pluralist critical centrism". Far from constituting a treatise on pragmatism through a study of relativism and ethnocentrism, the essay begins a discussion with authors as diverse as John Dewey, Clifford Geertz, Richard Rorty, Marvin Harris, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Hans Joas, Donald Davidson and Ludwig Wittgenstein, in which it proposes exploring possible routes of escape from the eternal alternatives: either everything is relative or science exists only in the universal.

Keywords : pragmatism; ethnocentrism; relativism, anthropological reflection.

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