chapter
person
Pages 5

The concept of the person, like other comparative concepts such as kinship or the state, designates a zone of enquiry within which there is enough commonality across societies to ensure that comparison is reasonable, yet enough variation between them to make enquiry fruitful. Enquiries in this zone concern conceptions of the human psychophysical *individual. This is territory for the psychologist and the philosopher as well, of course, but anthropologists are guided by two special considerations. First, we expect that a society’s conceptions of people as individuals, of how people work, can be related compellingly to its forms of social institution, of how society works. Second, we have come to learn that other societies’ ways of anatomizing individuals’ thought and form may be profoundly, and startlingly, different from those we take for granted.