By Alfonso Maurizio Iacono
This ebook goals to supply the old context essential to figuring out the idea that of 'fetishism' and provides an outline of the ideologies, prejudices, and significant senses that formed the Western observer's view of otherness and of his personal international.
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Additional info for The History and Theory of Fetishism
104 The starting point for Fontenelle, who draws a comparison between American savages and early Greeks, is opposed to Lafitau’s, but is nevertheless based on the idea that the fables of all peoples resemble one another because men are similar to each other. But isn’t this also a conjecture? A conjecture that can do without god, but a conjecture nevertheless. From an epistemological point of view both Lafitau’s and Fontenelle’s conjectures foster inquiry and observation; yet, the former was set aside, whereas the latter gained ground.
The introduction of the idea of progress and a type of history that develops unilinearly implies, in some ways, a change in the form of the connections through which the comparison is made. Drawing comparisons across a temporal scale meant considering the results arrived at by Lafitau in a different theoretical context, a context in which it was possible to assimilate his method and his observations without, however, accepting his beliefs and conjectures. Thus it appears necessary to clarify Lafitau’s stance and contribution in order to not only highlight the aspects de Brosses would include in his analysis, but also grasp the nature of what would be excluded by him and by the formal connections of his theory.
They impose prohibitions and offer remedies. 22 / the history and theory of fetishism (f) The fetish concerns an external cult: the fetish is feared rather than loved. The relationship with it is instrumental, based on interest andn eeds. (g) There are specific fetishes for each individual and general fetishes for the family, the chief, or the village. This outline is functional to the formulation of some observations on the relationship between description and observer. We see that in those cases where the description is given in an apparently pure form, that is, without explanatory statements, it is in actual fact merely assumed and depends on the conceptual prejudices of the observer.