Quoting Sahlins on the Morals and Mechanics of Exchange

'Give or Take' by Louise Bourgeois (1990)


The featured sculpture by late Louise Bourgeois is not directly related to the following quotation. Tis a simple affair that they happen to pair a dovetail this afternoon. The following is a quote that I must have written and re-written in tens of notebooks over the last few years. I like to carry it around with me.


‘It ought to be recognised from the beginning that the distinction of one type of reciprocity from another is more than formal. A feature such as the expectation of returns says something about the spirit of exchange, about its disinterestedness or its interestedness, the impersonality, the compassion. Any seeming formal classification conveys these meanings: it is as much a moral as a mechanical scheme’


~ Marshall Sahlins 1974, Stone Age Economics, Tavistock Publications, p. 192.


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Filed under Anthropological Awesome, Anthropology

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