Welcome to my website and the world of anthropological questions.
Fascinating and fundamental as it was for Paul Gauguin:
Who are we?
Why are we the way we are?
How did we get that way?
Where are we going?
How do we find out?
Note: Commissioned by Anne Fox.
Life is a joy with Family Love shared with daughters,grandsons; great granel kiddies, and wife, Lin after nearly a half century of togetherness.
KINSHIP AND LAND TENURE ON TORY ISLAND.
Belfast NI: Queen’s University of Belfast, Institute of Irish Studies/Ulster Folk Museum, 1965. (Out of print.)
THE KERESAN BRIDGE: A PROBLEM IN PUEBLO ETHNOLOGY
London School of Economics Monographs in Social Anthropology, 35. London: The Athlone Press of the University of London, 1967. USA, Humanities Press, 1967.
Reprinted 2004, Oxford: Berg
KINSHIP AND MARRIAGE: AN ANTHROPOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE
Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1967. New North American and world hardback ed., with new preface and biblio., Cambridge and New York, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge University Studies in Social Anthropology, 50) 1983. Trans. Into French (Gallimard, series Les Essais), German, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Hindi, Malay, Japanese..
THE IMPERIAL ANIMAL (With Lionel Tiger.)
New York: Holt Rinehart and Winston, 1971. Book of the Month Club alternate selection. English ed. 1972, Secker and Warburg. Paperbacks Dell (USA) and Penguin (UK). Second paperback with preface by Konrad Lorenz. Translations into Swedish, Finnish, Dutch, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese.) Reprinted in paperback with new introduction, Henry Holt (Owl Book) 1989 (Japanese Trans. Of same 1990.) Reprinted with new intro, Transaction Publishers, 1998.)
ENCOUNTER WITH ANTHROPOLOGY
New York: Harcourt, Brace Jovanovitch, 1973. Paperbacks Dell, New York; Penguin, England. Italian and Japanese Translations. Reissued with new preface and conclusion by Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick NJ, 1991.
Editor and Contributor. London: Malaby Press, and New York: Halsted Press, 1975 (French and Italian trans.)
THE TORY ISLANDERS: A PEOPLE OF THE CELTIC FRINGE
(New York and London: Cambridge University Press, 1978. (Japanese Trans. 1987.) 2nd Ed. with new preface, Notre Dame U. P. 1995.
THE RED LAMP OF INCEST: AN ENQUIRY INTO THE ORIGIN OF MIND AND SOCIETY
New York: E. P. Dutton, 1980. London: Hutchinson, 1981. Paperback edition with new preface, Notre Dame: The University of Notre Dame Press, 1983 (Spanish Translation 1992)
NEONATE COGNITION: BEYOND THE BLOOMING BUZZING CONFUSION
Editor and Contributor with Jacques Mehler. Hillsdale NJ : Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1984
THE VIOLENT IMAGINATION
New Brunswick NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1989
(Nominated for the Victor Turner Award in Ethnographic Writing of the American Anthropological Association.) Reprinted in The Passionate Mind vide infra.
THE SEARCH FOR SOCIETY: QUEST FOR A BIOSOCIAL SCIENCE AND MORALITY
New Brunswick NJ: Rutgers University Press. 1989.
REPRODUCTION AND SUCCESSION: STUDIES IN LAW, ANTHROPOLOGY AND SOCIETY.
New Brunswick N.J. and London Transaction Publishers, 1993.(Paperback ed. 1996; Japanese Translation 1999)
THE CHALLENGE OF ANTHROPOLOGY: OLD ENCOUNTERS AND NEW EXCURSIONS.
New Brunswick N.J. and London. Transaction Publishers, 1994. (Paperback ed. 1995; Japanese Translation 2002)
CONJECTURES AND CONFRONTATIONS: SCIENCE, EVOLUTION, SOCIAL CONCERN.
New Brunswick N.J.and London. Transaction Publishers, 1997
THE PASSIONATE MIND: SOURCES OF DESTRUCTION AND CREATIVITY.
(Incorporating The Violent Imagination, with a new introduction by Ashley Montagu) New Brunswick and London. Transaction Publishers 2000.
PARTICIPANT OBSERVER: MEMOIR OF A TRANSATLANTIC LIFE.
New Brunswick and London. Transaction Publishers, 2004. (See"Participant Observer" drop-down.)
THE TRIBAL IMAGINATION: CIVILIZATION AND THE SAVAGE MIND.
Cambridge MA and London: Harvard University Press, 2011. (See "Tribal Imagination" drop-down)
SHAKESPEARE’S EDUCATION: SCHOOLS, LAWSUITS, THEATER AND THE TUDOR MIRACLE.
"Whether the essays deal with particular cultures or with man in general, all display sympathy, wit, learning, and acumen." The New Yorker
ENCOUNTER WITH ANTHROPOLOGY
Paperback: 338 pages
Publisher: (Original, Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1973)
Current: Transaction Publishers
(With a new concluding chapter by the author)
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This is another book that has never been out of print since its original publication and has been the introduction to anthropology for many now prominent in the field. It includes an essay on Race that Margaret Mead called "the best short piece on the subject," and further essays on sex, kinship and the family, marriage and modern literature, a New Mexico Pueblo, an Irish island, American Indian religion, witchcraft, and language. The essay "The Cultural Animal" was one of the first programmatic statements of the biosocial (bio-cultural) movement, and has been reproduced in many other places.
From the original jacket cover:
"Professor Fox is that rarest of scientists, a leader in his field, a courageous defender of common sense against dogma, and a man who can write. His lucid, witty, unassumingly learned book will tell you not only what the science of man has become, but also what it might become someday." Robert Ardrey, author of African Genesis, The Territorial Imperative, The Social Contract, etc.
"Delightful. A bold stimulating and original analysis of a very difficult subject." Pittsburgh Press
"One of the most exciting books to fall into the layman's lap… With fresh language and pleasing irreverence, Mr. Fox tosses out his ideas… His audience has the benefit of evidence gleaned by an impartial and passionate mind; the reader can chew and digest or spit out – but at least he will think." The Saturday Evening Post
Encounter with Anthropology: Penguin Paperback (cover: Navaho sand painting)
KINSHIP AND MARRIAGE
An Anthropological Perspective
Paperback: 266 pages
Publisher: (Originally Penguin Books 1967)
Current: Cambridge University Press, Cambridge Studies in Social Anthropology, 50, 1983.
With a new preface
In print for fifty years, this is, in its many translations and editions, the most widely read and used anthropology text in the world. (Translations include French, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Hindi and Malay.) The Spanish edition was mandated for all social science students in Spanish universities. It has been called "the bible of kinship studies" and the French publisher, Gallimard, included it in the prestigious series Les Essais (no. CLXVII., Anthropologie de la parente.) It was one of the boldest attempts to meld the "structuralism" of the French school with the "functionalism" of the British, and to introduce Fox's theories of the "Westermarck effect" of incest avoidance (1962) to a wider audience. It was mostly written before the author was thirty, conceived in his tutorials at Leverett House, Harvard University, 1958-59, and based on his lectures at The University of Exeter and The London School of Economics, 1959-66.
1. Kinship, Family and Descent
2. The Incest Problem
3. Local Groups and Descent Groups
4. Unilineal Descent Groups
5. Segmentation and Double Descent
6, Cognatic Descent and Ego-centered Groups
7. Exogamy and Direct Exchange
8. Asymmetrical and Complex Systems
9. Kinship Terminology
From the original reviews:
"This is an admirable work and far superior to anything of the kind that has previously been attempted." Times Literary Supplement (Rodney Needham.)
"Only those, teachers as well as students, who know how stodgy works about kinship can be, will fully appreciate what we owe him for this lively book. Absolute beginners will enjoy it for its own sake." Lucy Mair, New Society.
THE IMPERIAL ANIMAL
(with LIONEL TIGER)
Paperback: 308 pages
(Original: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971)
Current: Transaction Publishers
(With a new introduction by the authors.)
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This book, written by the two authors when still in their early thirties, was widely reviewed at the time. A recent review on Amazon.com rated this book " ***** One of the milestones of human consciousness." And "***** Brilliant. An absolutely fascinating look at the origins of present day human behavior through the eyes of an emerging science. The study of Darwinian anthropology and psychology are so commonplace now and so filled with contradictory perspectives, that it is refreshing to see the courage and logic of where much of it began. After thirty years, this work has yet to be outdone."
These are the responses of non-professional readers to a book that was written for them and for the social science professions, at a time when these ideas were struggling to get a hearing.
Here are some professional comments on the latest edition.
"The rebirth of The Imperial Animal is welcome from both a scientific and historical perspective. It is a genuine classic in the study of human behavior, a pioneering treatment of the relation between biology and culture." E. O. Wilson, Harvard University, author of Sociobiology: The New Synthesis; On Human Nature; Consilience, etc.
"To read this book is a tremendously thought-provoking experience. I am happy to know that The Imperial Animal is again available to inspire those who are searching to understand the connections between the social sciences and biology." Margaret Gruter, founder and president, Gruter Institute for Law and Behavioral Research.
"Perhaps the most memorable aspect of the book is the strikingly humane and appreciative nature of the Tory people it presents… A book well worth reading, whether you are an anthropologist or not." Ruth Finnegan, Heythrop Journal
THE TORY ISLANDERS
A People of the Celtic Fringe
Paperback: 210 pages
Publisher: (Original: Cambridge University Press, 1978)
Current: Notre Dame University Press, 1995)
(With new preface by the author.)
ISBN: 0-168-01890-1 Buy this book at Amazon.com
This is my personal favorite of all my books. The Tory people are amazing! And still there! This description is from the book jacket:
The Tory Islanders, an established classic of anthropological writing and analysis, is an account of a unique people: a group of Gaelic-speaking islanders located nine miles off the coast of Donegal in the extreme northwest of Ireland. Their roots go back to pre-Christian Ireland, and in their isolation they have maintained ways of life that have disappeared on the mainland and the rest of Europe. Perhaps in no other place is the archaic structure of the peasantry so well preserved – not unchanged, but ingeniously adapted to fit old customs to new uses. The book describes their history, legends, demography, genealogies, kinship, land tenure, boat crews, and household and marriage arrangements - where it was customary for many husbands and wives not to live in the same house. Robin Fox conveys the spirit and humor of the islanders, which, he claims, represent a continuing hymn to the human capacity to survive and adapt. The author has written a new preface specially for this edition.
"An absorbing account of the ways in which a folk people adjust to the natural setting, to each other, and to impingements from the outside." Solon T. Kimball, American Anthropologist
"Fox's elegantly written account of Tory Island social structure should be of interest to scholars in many fields, and will doubtless be a focus of particular attention to Irish studies for some time to come." Lawrence J. Taylor, Ethnology
1. Prologue: Myths and Masters
2. The Island and the People
3. Genealogy: Principles and Practice
4. Kinship and Naming
5. The Land: Use, Ownership and Inheritance
6. The Boats: Recruitment of Crews
7. Family, Household and Marriage
8. Epilogue: Structures and Strangers
THE RED LAMP OF INCEST
An Enquiry into the Orgins of Mind and Society
Paperback: 271 pages Publisher: Original E. P. Dutton, 1980
Current: Notre Dame University Press, 1983
(With a new preface by the author)
ISBN: 0-268-01620-8 Buy this book at Amazon.com
This is perhaps my most ambitious book, as the subtitle suggests: and the most controversial. I think the overall argument holds up well. See what you think!
From the jacket: A fascinating and controversial reappraisal of human nature and society that focuses on the incest taboo. Eschewing a narrow biological approach to human society, Fox synthesizes information drawn from the natural and social sciences. By critically examining the theory that the incest taboo is the crucial distinction between man and beast, he sets out to discover the origin of humanity. This investigation into the primitive past leads to an incisive discussion of man's continued place in evolution.
"The most important book on incest in the last hundred years." Joseph Shepher, in Incest: A Biosocial View
"We may conclude by praising the ambitious and synthetic nature of this "mini-magnum opus." Fox has used the best biological, neurological, primatological and anthropological data to try to give us a picture of the built-in tendencies and limitations of our biosocial selves. He warns us that we cannot for long upset this evolved set of mechanisms whatever else changes in the world… The reader must contend with the consequences of the possibility that Fox is essentially correct." Nelson Graburn (Berkeley), SEICUS Review
"The book is fleshed out with fascinating excursions into the anthropological literature. On primate social organization; on the growth of the brain and human intelligence; on systems of marriage exchange… So far as incest and exogamy are concerned, this book has much to say which is sensible and true." Adam Kuper, New Society
"Commentaries on disciplines have nothing to do with the extraordinary success of Fox in convincing the reader that a unified theory of human behavior must include everything from neuroscience to aesthetics, and indeed that one must have the courage to put it all together. Fox's insights and integrative attempts are probably among the most exciting of current ideas we have: they are "good to play with." L. Romanucci-Ross,Reviews in Anthropology
"Fox writes not only with learning and authority but with a certain effortless elegance and charm. It is not a book however that can be read, as it were, standing on one foot. It requires the reader's close attention, for it is full of close reasoning supported by a battery of facts, as well as a good deal of theorizing… In his discussion of Freud, Fox has written the finest exposition of the "primal horde" theory extant, and at the same time improved upon it… Fox has written the best book ever on the origins of the incest taboo." Ashley Montagu, The Chicago Sun-Times
"In this original and highly literate book, Robin Fox makes sense of what was previously a morass of conflicting theory on sex and kinship." E. O. Wilson, (Harvard) author of Sociobiology, On Human Nature, Consilience, etc
"The Red Lamp of Incest is the outstanding achievement of one of the most original anthropologists of our time." John Pfieffer, author of The Creative Explosion, etc.
"A formidable work of scholarship integrating many strands of research and theory… the definitive study of "the incest taboo" for at any rate this half of the twentieth century." Meyer Fortes, William Wyse professor of anthropology, Cambridge.
"In the intellectual gap between E. O. Wilson's Sociobiology and Levi-Strauss's The Savage Mind, lies a wealth of problems that both structuralists and sociobiologists have failed to solve. The Red Lamp of Incest stands as a distinguished and almost solitary sentinel looking over and lighting this rough but rich terrain. Robin Fox is uniquely qualified to analyze human kinship, that most central of anthropological issues, using the full power of both approaches. He has done this brilliantly and gracefully, and along the way cast light on the evolution of the human brain as well. This is one of the most under-appreciated books about human nature and behavior published in recent years, and I predict that it will grow steadily in stature as social scientists come to grips with the full implications of modern biology." Melvin Konner, (Emory), author of The Tangled Wing, Becoming a Doctor, The Paleolithic Prescription, Unsettled, etc.
THE SEARCH FOR SOCIETY
Quest for a Biosocial Science and Morality
Hardcover: 264 pages ISBN: 0-8135-1464-9
Paperback: 264 pages ISBN: 0-8135-1488-6
Publisher: Rutgers University Press, 1989
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This is the best "overview" of my general position on society and culture. Look for the argument about the "paleoterrific" as the period of greatest human happiness.
From the jacket: The social sciences are in turmoil. There is not even any agreement on the nature of the subject matter. Robin Fox has always spoken out for a science of society based on evolutionary theory as a way out of the confusion. Here he shares with us, in essays, his explorations of this contentious subject matter. His focal point is the endemic opposition to any approach based on innate human qualities, and hence any definition of cultural universals. This opposition is deeply ingrained and often irrational, so Fox digs into its past to uncover its philosophical and political underpinnings. He goes to Locke and Bacon and the marriage of liberalism and science in the seventeenth century for his answer. He traces the development of these ideas up to Durkheim and modern behavioral science. In the process he makes a plea for revision of the concept of culture, suggesting "ethosystem" as a substitute; a re-evaluation of theories of violence and aggression, and an analysis of kinship, totemic, and all other social categories, which lodges them firmly in neurological and mating systems. This book is in effect the "equal time" response to Clifford Geertz's Interpretation of Cultures.
Fox concludes with an exercise unusual for a social scientist: an exploration of the possible fate of mankind based on a re-analysis of history and pre-history, which regards the former an evolutionary aberration. The theme of a possible "natural" morality based on natural science but not committing the naturalist fallacy runs through the book. These ideas are addressed to a wide audience, including historians, philosophers, theologians, political and life scientists, historians of ideas, and, not least, a general public puzzled about the state of learning and about its own fate as a species.
"Robin Fox thinks like a biologist and writes like a social scientist, a rare and formidable combination. His essays, consistently brilliant and entertaining in style, bring the best parts of the two domains closer together." E. O. Wilson
"Fox's challenge to social scientists is simple: either face the inescapable fact that what we are today is largely the result of our species' long yesterday, or reconcile ourselves to an unpleasant tomorrow." Richard Shelley Hartigan, author of The Future Remembered: An Essay in Biopolitics
"Robin Fox has written a brilliant and important book. Although his critique of the prevailing belief in "culturalism" – the view that human social behavior is emancipated from nature – is primarily directed to anthropology, it is relevant to all the social sciences, and particularly to the study of politics." Roger Masters, in Politics and the Life Sciences
" This is an adventurous book, a collection of ethnological essays along with a common and coherent theme that strongly and explicitly espouses evolutionary biology. Individual essays are exploratory, entertaining, lucid, sometimes erudite, and rich in the history of ideas… Fox ends by saying that humans today "are like someone who has been handed a great fortune along with instructions to committ suicide”; that is, just when we began to understand our roots in evolution, we had to invent the atomic bomb… Fox's book of essays makes for spirited reading. It is a highly imaginative, philosophically oriented adventure in speculative and not-so-speculative social biology that even the not-so-inclined reader will find easy to assimilate." Christopher Boehm, in the American Anthropologist.
"Robin Fox, in recounting his "search for society" offers us a most provocative treatise on what the ground rules for a biosocial science of humanity ought to be. His intellectual quest is brilliantly erudite but ultimately overshadowed by his larger mythic quest for morality based in biosocial reality." Robert L. Savage in Politics and the Life Sciences
"In the intellectual gap between E. O. Wilson's Sociobiology and Levi-Strauss's The Savage Mind, lies a wealth of problems that both structuralists and sociobiologists have failed to solve. The Red Lamp of Incest stands as a distinguished and almost solitary sentinel looking over and lighting this rough but rich terrain. Robin Fox is uniquely qualified to analyze human kinship, that most central of anthropological issues, using the full power of both approaches. He has done this brilliantly and gracefully, and along the way cast light on the evolution of the human brain as well. This is one of the most under-appreciated books about human nature and behavior published in recent years, and I predict that it will grow steadily in stature as social scientists come to grips with the full implications of modern biology." Melvin Konner, (Emory), author of The Tangled Wing, Becoming a Doctor, The Paleolithic Prescription, Unsettled, etc
REPRODUCTION AND SUCCESSION
Studies in Anthropology, Law and Society
Hardback: 267 pages: ISBN: 1-56000-067-8
Paperback: 267 pages: ISBN:
Publisher: Transaction Publishers
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This is perhaps the best theoretical argument I have ever made (about the "war of kinship versus the state"); but you can read it for the fun of the individual "case histories" as well.
From the jacket:
In yet another virtuoso intellectual performance, Robin Fox takes on issues of modern constitutional and case law, and delves into history, literature and ethnography, as part of his ongoing enquiry into "the resilience of kinship." He looks at four apparently diverse "case histories": The rights of Mormons to practice polygamy as a religious obligation; the rights of surrogate mothers to keep their babies if they change their minds (these constituting "reproduction"); the reasons for Antigone's stubbornness in insisting on her brother's burial; and the ubiquitousness of the priveleged relationship between a man and his mother's brother (these two concerning "succession.")
In the first two cases Fox describes his actual involvement in real cases: a Mormon policeman's appeal as far as the Supreme Court, and the famous "Baby M" surrogate mother trials in New Jersey.
In both cases he tries to show how behavioral science "facts" are more effective if used together with case law, than if used simply to design legislation. Fox's re-analysis of Antigone, and the whole
The ban cycle of Sophocles goes as far back as Homer and as far forward as Kurt Vonnegut and the Mafia, to search for persistent patterns in "the war between kinship and the state." His re-analysis of the avunculate looks at six different approaches and tries, again, to find the common theme in theories as different as structuralism and sociobiology.
Underlying all these phenomena is the shift from "kinship law to state law" paralleling Maine's shift from "status to contract." "All history," says Fox, "is the history of reproduction and succession." If the reader can appreciate that Antigone, May Beth Whitehead, Officer Potter, and the maternal uncle, are all fighting the same battle, then an "anthropology of law"at once new and yet thoroughly traditional will emerge from the fascinating detail of these discussions. Readers familiar with Fox's work will not be surprised by his "sympathy, wit, learning and acumen" (New Yorker), but some of the conclusions of this unusual book will certainly surprise them.
The table of contents gives you a good idea of what's in there.
Part One: REPRODUCTION
Introduction: Empirical Knowledge and Legal Theory
1. The Case of the Polygamous Policeman
Potter vs. Murray City: Three IS a Crowd
The Mormons and Polygamy: Useful Revelations
The Dominance of Reynolds: Bad Facts Make Good Law
Reynolds and History: Higamous, Hogamous, Who Is Monogamous?
Reynolds and Ethnography: The Polygynous Persuasion
Objections to the Objection: The Nature of Polygamy
Judicial Reasoning: Not-So-Compelling Interest
Conclusion: The Dangers of Honesty
2. The Case of the Reluctant Genetrix
The Stern-Whitehead Contract: Thou Shalt Not Form Bonds
The Legal Issues: When is a Parent Not a Parent?
The Scientific Position: Ethology of the Mother-Child Bond
1. Evolutionary Background
2. Physiology of Pregnancy and Bonding
3. The Mother-Child Unit
4. Bonding with the Embryo and at Parturition
5. Continuing Bonding and Bond Disruption
6. Grief Over the Loss of a Child
7. The Role of the Father
The Court's Decision: Parens Patriae Super
The Appeal Decision: Enlightenment in Trenton
The New Reproductive Technologies: Offspring Without Sex
Part Two: SUCCESSION
Introduction: The Lineal Equation
3. The Virgin and the Godfather: Kinship Law versus State Law in Greek Tragedy and After
Kinship or Individual: Who's against Whom?
The Problem in Antigone: The Virgin's Motives
The Burial of the Dead: She IS Her Brother's Keeper
The Issues in the Epics: No State to Speak of
Problems and Passages: Odd Words and Sorry Poets
Patrilineal Ideology: The Man Is Father to the Child
Structuralist Challenge: Who Saws the Jigs?
Oedipus as Innocent: The Sodomy of Laius
The State Steps in: The Church Steps Along
Kinship in Legend Today: All in the Family
4.. Sisters' Sons and Monkeys' Uncles: Six Theories in Search of An Avunculate
The Evolutionists: Mothers are the Necessity of Invention
The Functionalists: Getting Dad Back In (Auntie As Well)
The Structuralists: Splitting the Atom of Kinship
The Ethologists: The Mother and Child Reunion
The Primatologists: The Primate Baseline Drive
The Sociobiologists: It's a Wise Chimp that Knows Its Own Father
"The heady erudition of this book takes you from polygamy to surrogate mothers, from the kinship underpinnings of Greek tragedy to the mother's brother – and a lot in between. Its argument about the role of the biological base in cultural behavior is incontrovertible. You'll be really glad you read this book and sorry if you don't." Paul Bohannan, Professor Emeritus of Law and Anthropology and former Dean of the School of Social Sciences and Communication, University of Southern California. Past President of the Association for Legal and Political Anthropology.
"This is a startlingly creative book by one of the world's most imaginative, daring and ambitious anthropologists. With detailed studies of such unexpected but related subjects as anti-polygamy law in America, motherhood by contract, and the struggle between kinship and polity in ancient Greece, Professor Fox has produced one of the most unique, intriguing and provocative works in the field of law, family and society." Donald Black, University Professor of the Social Sciences, University of Virginia.
"In sum, this an erudite, well-written and often fascinating series of essays, written by one of the most original thinkers in anthropology today. It demonstrates that legal anthropology can be much more than just the study of courts and law in Third World societies. For this alone he deserves our gratitude." William Arens (SUNY), in The Law and Politics Book Review.
"This is an essay in the application of anthropological knowledge by one of the discipline's most prominent theorists. It is also an essay in the application of case studies to social theory… It would be a mistake to dismiss this book on the grounds of biological essentialism. It is far too clever and provocative. Written with tremendous gusto and verve, and alarmingly easy to read, the assurance of its style should not be mistaken for an unequivocal position… these extended commentaries are in themselves a fascinating and revealing exercise. My quarrel with Fox's quarrels requires extended commentary in turn, and this is not the place." Marylin Strathern, Professor of Social Anthropology, Cambridge University, in Man, the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Professor Strathern's "extended commentary" (sixteen pages) appeared as: "New Knowledge for Old? Reflections following Fox's Reproduction and Succession" in Social Anthroplogy: the official journal of the European Society of Social Anthropologists, 4: vol. 2 no. 8
CONJECTURES AND CONFRONTATIONS
Science, Evolution, Social Concern
Hardback: 212 pages; ISBN:1-56000-286-7
Publisher: Transaction Publishers / Buy on Amazon.com
This is a book of essays that I was asked to write from time to time to illustrate my "biosocial" approach to social issues (bureaucracy, nationalism, innovation, sexual conflict in the epic), or the state of the art in the social sciences (humanism and science, self-interest and social concern, ideology and archaeology, the moral sense.) These are nestled between two parts of a longish interview about my life in the social sciences, and divided by a TV interview on Political Correctness (Richard Heffner on The Open Mind), and all ending with a long poem called "What the Shaman Saw: Incident at Lascaux, circa 15,000 BP". All meant as much for the general reader as the expert (if not more so.)
Introduction: The Biosocial Orientation
Interview: An Accidental Life I
1. Why Bureaucracy Fails
2. Nationalism: Hymns Ancient and Modern
3. How Innovative Are We?
4. Sexual Conflict in Epic Narrative
Interview: Political Correctness
5. Moral Sense and Utopian Sensibility
6. Left Ideology and Right Archaeology
7. Self Interest and Social Concern
8. Scientific Humanism and Humanistic Science
Interview: An Accidental Life II
Epilogue: What the Shaman Saw
"A new book by Robin Fox is always an intellectual treat, and this one, which is written with his usual verve, wide learning, wit and theoretical sophistication, is no exception. In the current post-modern Zeitgeist, this book is especially welcome for its vigorous, but balanced, defense of reason, science, and the Western Enlightenment tradition." Melford E. Spiro, professor emeritus of anthropology, UCSD, author of, Children of The Kibbutz; Anthropological Other or Burmese Brother, etc.
"For over a generation, Robin Fox has illuminated human behavior and social theory with a steady flow of original and insightful writing. This collection of his essays is particularly welcome now that reflexive ideological hostility to evolutionary approaches in the social sciences has begun to wane. Such thoughtful and enriching insights as his probing analyses of why bureaucracies fail and national entities flourish, will enrich all those willing to integrate perspectives from cultural anthropology and philosophy to neuroscience and behavioral ecology." Roger Masters, Nelson A. Rockefeller Professor of Government, Dartmouth College, author of Machiavelli, Leonardo, and the Science of Power; Fortune is a River, etc.
"This book of essays offers a fascinating perspective on Robin Fox himself – an anthropologist who anticipated and helped to develop todays robust merger of biology and the behavioral sciences. The topical essays are, as always, polished and insightful; there is the literary flair of Levi-Strauss, yet, refreshingly, the responsibility of the scientist who is true to his facts and careful about them. Some gems in this collection include a discussion of the perils of bureaucracy – delivered not to fellow academicians but to federal bureaucrats in Washington, and a valiant attempt to make some sense of the enduring debate about moral universals. Robin Fox is not afraid of controversy… This work helps to sum up what has been, so far, an extraordinary intellectual career." Christopher Boehm, Director, The Jane Goodall Research Center, University of Southern California.
THE PASSIONATE MIND: Sources of Destruction and Creativity
Incorporating The Violent Imagination and with foreword by Ashley Montagu
Transaction Publishers 2000
Consciousness, declares Robin Fox, is "out of context." Useful as an adaptation in the Stone Age, it brought humanity to the top of the food chain but has now created a world it cannot control. The Passionate Mind explores this paradox not through academic demonstration but through satiric dialogues, blank-verse ruminations, lyric, narrative and comic verse, and Aesopian fables. This mix of genres and styles forces us out of our usual linear modes of thinking to confront a harsh thesis. Because of consciousness we cannot operate without ideas, but once in thrall to ideas--whether of love, power, religion, or ideology--we cannot operate without destructiveness lest we become imprisoned by them.
The range of subjects and genres Fox covers includes a verse summary of the key points of human evolution, a conference of farm animals ruminating on their social problems, visions of a desperate future from a neolithic hunter and a shaman at Lascaux, Kafkaesque trial scenes, and a new version of "God is dead." George Washington, having lost at Yorktown is put on trial with Adams, Jefferson, and Benedict Arnold giving evidence. Through the persona of Humbert Humbert as decadent Europe, the new world of Lolita/America is faced with the consequences of its pursuit of happiness. Scandinavian utopianism and salvation through romantic eros get their turn, and the basic "design failure" of humanity is examined in a Platonic dialogue. A bullfight and the struggle for existence in New Jersey farming lead up to a monologue from a decidedly unlikely Jesus who turns out to be part of an alien plan to control an otherwise out of control human race. Through this kaleidoscopic mix, Fox mounts a case for a thorough revision of consciousness that breaks "realistic" boundaries between science, the humanities, religion, and myth.
Reviews and Comments
"A beautiful, strange work . . . a free, wild book."
—Dame Iris Murdoch (on The Violent Imagination, incorporated into this book)
"If ever there was a book to show that there is more than one way to 'say' anthropology, this is it. The essays are witty, sarcastic, large minded, philosophically informed, inventive. The poems bristle in the right places and ultimately bite at the heart. By eloquently mixing the forms and levels of discourse, Fox has forced a confrontation with the usual linear modes of text construction, interpretation and analytic thought."
—Ivan Brady, American Anthropologist
"A book bursting with wit, courage, panache, brilliance and defiant originality. The verse is as good as anything in the journals and a hundred times smarter."
—Frederick Turner, Founders' Professor of Humanities, University of Texas, Dallas. Author of The New World; Shakespeare's Twentieth Century Economics; Genesis: An Epic Poem; etc.....
"I certainly recognized the sophisticated intelligence, imaginativeness and essential concern...rational statement but with brio; accomplished manipulation of traditional verse forms; realistic reports of contemporary life, but with a symbolic or archetypal dimension; a pervading ebullience."
—David Perkins, John P. Marquand Professor of English, Harvard University, author of A History of Modern Poetry
"The work recalls Auden at his best, and for me that's praise of the highest order."
—John Mella, editor, Light: The Quarterly of Light Verse
"A quite extraordinary piece of work. I was astonished by its range of genres and styles and by the masterly use of them. The verse is unusually accomplished and much of it quite moving. The dialogue in 'The Trial of George Washington' is wonderful - crisp and formal, faintly archaic, witty and taut. Fox loves words and hovers over them like Nabokov over a butterfly (or over a word for that matter). It is lovely to find that in a man of science."
—Robert Storey, Professor of English, Temple University, author of Pierrot: A Masque
TABLE OF CONTENTS (P= Prose)
INTRODUCTION to the Transaction Edition P
Foreword: ORIGIN OF THE SPECIOUS, by Ashley Montagu P
------PART ONE: DIARY OF A SUPERFLUOUS RACE
Three basic lyrics: to establish some basic things.
---CAROUSEL (Asbury Park, summer)
---THE FOOL SINGS OF HIS SKULL AND ITS CONTENTS
---HE APOLOGIZES TO HER FOR COMPARING HER EYES
13 TO THE WINGS OF CAPTIVE HUMMINGBIRDS USED IN NAVAHO RITUALS
THE CONFERENCE OF FOULES P
---POSTLUDE: CONFERENCE ODE
WHAT THE HUNTER SAW
OVERHEARD IN THE PUB
Two more lyrics: to explore a few more things
---THE SPIDER AND THE HAWK
---LE PRINCE COCHON
Two (more) ghosts are invoked
---LOVE AMONG THE PLANETS: BALLAD FOR THE GHOST OF YEATS
---DIVINA COMEDIA: FOR BYRON'S GHOST
THE INTERROGATION: A Nightmare P
NOTE TO THE THEOLOGIAN
------PART TWO: THE TRIAL OF GEORGE WASHINGTON: DOCUMENTS IN THE CASE P
How we came by them
---LETTER TO THE PUBLISHER
---LETTER FROM LT JOHN BRIDGES HANDLER TO HIS FATHER SENATOR JAMES WHITMORE HANDLER
---HANDWRITTEN MANUSCRIPT FROM THE BOX
The fragments from the box
---FRAGMENT 1 THE CHARGE AGAINST COLONEL WASHINGTON
---FRAGMENT 2 THE EVIDENCE OF JUDGE JONATHAN SEWELL
---FRAGMENT 3 THE EVIDENCE OF GENERAL SIR BENEDICT ARNOLD
---FRAGMENT 4 THE EVIDENCE OF MR JOHN ADAMS
---FRAGMENT 5 THE EVIDENCE OF MR THOMAS JEFFERSON
---FRAGMENT 6 THE VERDICT OF THE COURT
---FRAGMENT 7 STATEMENT OF COLONEL WASHINGTON
---FRAGMENT 8 THE SENTENCE OF THE COURT
------PART THREE: CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION
HUMBERT REFLECTS (more than twenty years on}
THE MARINE ROOM RESTAURANT of the Olympic Hotel, Seattle Washington
WORDS FOR A BOSTON BLUES: From a true incident, 1957 (tune St. James' Infirmary)
BORING CONFESSION (Written on napkins in the Sandalwood Bar of the Sheraton Hotel, Route 18, NJ)
FOR MY DAUGHTERS: on the anniversary of the killings at Kent State, May 4, 1970
LIBERATED WOMAN: HAPPINESS PURSUED
MANHATTAN SUMMER DIALOGUE: STATEN ISLAND INTERLUDE
HYMN TO ISIS: SAN FRANCISCO SUMMER
INDIAN GIRL (Written in European Exile)
------PART FOUR: TOWARD A MORE PERFECT DISSOLUTION
WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT SWEDEN? P
IMAGE DE LA COMTESSE
Intuition, Structure and passion revisited
------LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
------SONNET OF THE DARK LADY
DESIGN FAILURE: A Post-Tutorial Dialogue P
COMING OF AGE IN JUST ABOUT EVERYWHERE An Ode to the Selfish Gene
MUSIC OF THE SPHERES
Three Interruptions of rational arguments.
------THE WALL ( CHRISTMAS EVE: Jerusalem)
------PATRIMONY FOR A POSSIBLE POSTERITY
------REASON IS AND OUGHT TO BE FUTILE
Lyrics on the female enigma (again)
------GIRLS WHO LOST THEIR FATHERS
PROSPECT OF NUCLEAR WINTER
BULLFIGHT AT ALTAMIRA: THE SEA AT SANTA MARTA
PSALM ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTYONE
------PART FIVE: DAUGHTERS OF EARTH/SONS OF HEAVEN
Juvenilia: Schoolboy Poems
------FROM CATULLUS: "TO LESBIA"
------ FROM VERLAINE: CLAIRE DE LUNE ( FETES GALANTES)
Undergraduate Verse 1955-57
------MAUVAISE FOI: HOMMAGE A LA RIVE GAUCHE
------SUBURBIA: INAUTHENTIC LIVES
------OUR LADY OF THE TEACUPS: HOMMAGE TO PRUFROCK
------NEATLY ROLLED UMBRELLAS
------POPULAR SONG (With redeeming social content)
New songs of innocence and experience: Three love conceits
---THE CHILD IS MOTHER TO THE MAN
---MAN IN A HANG GLIDER: WOMAN IN A PARACHUTE
Four daughter poems
---TO KATIE: WHO LOVES MUSIC AND MOUNTAINS
---KATE'S EYES (From the French)
---MEMO TO DR OEDIPUS
---A TEARDROP WRAPPED IN AN ENIGMA: TO ANNE232
Four Songs of Disillusion
---AMERGIN'S SONG REVISITED
---THE MIND'S I
---THE LEGACY Belfast 1997
---WHERE WERE YOU WHEN KENNEDY WAS KILLED?
ONE MORE HOOP FOR THE TIGER: THE ALLEGORY OF THE CIRCUS P
---LA FEMME QUI ADORAIT LA LUNE
---CHANSON DU VAMPIRE
New Jersey Landscapes
--- SUMMER: CROWS
WHAT THE SHAMAN SAW: Incident at Lascaux circa 15000 BP
THE HEDGEHOG AND THE FOX P
Heroes, poets and other waifs
---WHERE HAVE THE HEROES GONE?
---THE LONG LINE
---A DOROTHY PARKER MEMORIAL
Hippies and lost loves
Kings, socialists and other futilities
---HAIKU engraved on a medical bracelet
---EPIGRAM (On the problem with the nineties)
---KISSING YOUR SISTER
---THE END - R. Frost meets O, Nsh
---SERIOUS OLD SOCIALISTS
---LE ROI S'AMUSE
---THE GRAND MARQUIS TO HIS EXECUTIONER
Form and Chaos
---SNOWFLAKES AND SIMILES
PART SIX : THE JESUS TAPES: WE ARE NOT ALONE
---THE MESSIAH MISSION
---THE INCARNATION PLAN
---JUDAS AND THE TRUTH
---THE CLEANSING OF THE TEMPLE
---PILATE AND THE TRIAL
PART SEVEN: EPILOGUE: FIRE OF SENSE/SMOKE OF THOUGHT
FROM THE GAELIC
EPITAPH ON AN INTELLECTUAL MERCENARY
GROWING OLD GRACELESSLY