Being, Humanity, and Understanding: Studies in Ancient and Modern Societies

ISBN : 9780198707936

G. E. R. Lloyd
144 ページ
141 x 215 mm

G. E. R. Lloyd explores the variety of ideas and assumptions that humans have entertained concerning three main topics: being, or what there is; humanity-what makes a human being a human; and understanding, both of the world and of one another. Amazingly diverse views have been held on these issues by different individuals and collectivities in both ancient and modern times. Lloyd juxtaposes the evidence available from ethnography and from the study of ancient societies, both to describe that diversity and to investigate the problems it poses. Many of the ideas in question are deeply puzzling, even paradoxical, to the point where they have often been described as irrational or frankly unintelligible. Many implicate fundamental moral issues and value judgements, where again we may seem to be faced with an impossible task in attempting to arrive at a fair-minded evaluation. How far does it seem that we are all the prisoners of the conceptual systems of the collectivities to which we happen to belong? To what extent and in what circumstances is it possible to challenge the basic concepts of such systems? Being, Humanity, and Understanding examines these questions cross-culturally and seeks to draw out the implications for the revisability of some of our habitual assumptions concerning such topics as ontology, morality, nature, relativism, incommensurability, the philosophy of language, and the pragmatics of communication.


1. Humanity between Gods and Beasts?
2. Error
3. Ancient Understandings Reassessed and the Consequences for Ontologies
4. Language and Audiences
5. Philosophical Implications
Glossary of Key Chinese Terms and Names


G. E. R. Lloyd is Emeritus Professor of Ancient Philosophy and Science at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of nineteen books, including Cognitive Variations: Reflections on the Unity and Diversity of the Human Mind (OUP, 2007) and Disciplines in the Making: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Elites, Learning, and Innovation (OUP, 2009). He became a Fellow of the British Academy in 1983, and received the Sarton medal in 1987. Lloyd was elected to an Honorary Fellowship at Kings in 1991, to Honorary Foreign Membership of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1995, to the International Academy for the History of Science in 1997, to an Honorary Fellowship at Darwin in 2000, and to an Honorary D.Litt by the University of Athens in 2003. He was knighted for 'services to the history of thought' in 1997, and received the Kenyon Medal for Classical scholarship from the British Academy in 2007.