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Two Kinds of Rationality

Kibbutz Democracy and Generational Conflict

1995
Author:

T.M.S. Evens

Two Kinds of Rationality

Beginning with a discussion of mind-body dualism in social anthropology, Evens presents a profound theory of human conduct that deploys notions of hierarchy and practice. He uses the case study of an Israeli kibbutz to address the central anthropological problem of rationality. Of particular interest is Evens's interpretation of the Genesis myth, along with his reading of Rousseau's revision of this myth, as a paradigm of generational conflict and the kibbutz's logic of moral order.

Beginning with a discussion of mind-body dualism in social anthropology, Evens presents a profound theory of human conduct that deploys notions of hierarchy and practice. He uses the case study of an Israeli kibbutz to address the central anthropological problem of rationality. Of particular interest is Evens's interpretation of the Genesis myth, along with his reading of Rousseau's revision of this myth, as a paradigm of generational conflict and the kibbutz's logic of moral order.

“Masterful. . . Evens sustains a highly disciplined argument with broad theoretical implications outside anthropology as well as in it. Two Kinds of Rationality is in many ways not an anthropological text but, rather, a theoretical treatise with deep roots in philosophy and the self-imposed task of providing a social theory/theory of social action as abstract and powerful in magnitude as Jurgen Habermas' theory of communicative rationality, Pierre Bourdieu's theory of practice, or Charles Taylor's theory of 'the self’.” Virginia Dominguez, University of California, Santa Cruz

Beginning with a discussion of mind-body dualism in social anthropology, Evens presents a profound theory of human conduct that deploys notions of hierarchy and practice. He uses the case study of an Israeli kibbutz to address the central anthropological problem of rationality.

Of particular interest is Evens's interpretation of the Genesis myth, as well as his reading of Rousseau's revision of this myth, as paradigms of generational conflict and the kibbutz's logic of moral order. These interpretations are tied to Evens's detailed discussion of a controversial attempt to introduce secret balloting into a particular kibbutz's directly democratic process.

Two Kinds of Rationality distinguishes between instrumental and mythic rationality, picturing the latter as a value rationality. Projecting reality as basically ambiguous, Evens offers a critique of theoretical approaches to social action and a rethinking of contemporary notions of human agency. This revolutionary theoretical work will appeal to social and political theorists, anthropologists, and students of cultural studies, social movements, and Jewish studies.

T. M. S. Evens is professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is the author of numerous articles and coeditor of Transcendence in Society: Case Studies (1990), a comparative study of social movements.

Two Kinds of Rationality

T.M.S. Evens is professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is the author of numerous articles and coeditor of Transcendence in Society: Case Studies (1990), a comparative study of social movements.

Two Kinds of Rationality

“Masterful. . . Evens sustains a highly disciplined argument with broad theoretical implications outside anthropology as well as in it. Two Kinds of Rationality is in many ways not an anthropological text but, rather, a theoretical treatise with deep roots in philosophy and the self-imposed task of providing a social theory/theory of social action as abstract and powerful in magnitude as Jurgen Habermas' theory of communicative rationality, Pierre Bourdieu's theory of practice, or Charles Taylor's theory of 'the self’.” Virginia Dominguez, University of California, Santa Cruz