In this work Tim Ingold offers a persuasive approach to understanding how human beings perceive their surroundings. He argues that what we are used to calling cultural variation consists, in the first place, of variations in skill. Neither innate nor acquired, skills are grown, incorporated into the human organism through practice and training in an environment. They are thus as much biological as cultural. The twenty-three essays comprising this book focus in turn on the procurement of livelihood, on what it means to 'dwell', and on the nature of skill, weaving together approaches from social anthropology, ecological psychology, developmental biology and phenomenology in a way that has never been attempted before. The book is set to revolutionise the way we think about what is 'biological' and 'cultural' in humans, about evolution and history, and indeed about what it means for human beings - at once organisms and persons - to inhabit an environment. The Perception of the Environment will be essential reading not only for anthropologists but also for biologists, psychologists, archaeologists, geographers and philosophers.

chapter |12 pages

General introduction

chapter 1|3 pages

Culture, nature, environment

Steps to an ecology of life

chapter |11 pages


chapter 2|13 pages

The optimal forager and economic man

chapter |1 pages

From trust to domination

An alternative history of human–animal relations

chapter |15 pages


chapter 6|22 pages

A circumpolar night’s dream

chapter |17 pages


chapter |15 pages

Culture, perception and cognition

chapter |17 pages

Building, dwelling, living:

How animals and people make themselves at home in the world

chapter |18 pages

The temporality of the landscape

chapter |2 pages

The people

chapter |10 pages

Globes and spheres

The topology of environmentalism

chapter |24 pages

To journey along a way of life

Maps, wayfinding and navigation

chapter |11 pages

Stop, look and listen!

Vision, hearing and human movement

chapter |40 pages


chapter |18 pages

Tools, minds and machines

An excursion in the philosophy of technology

chapter |16 pages

Work, time and industry

chapter |10 pages

On weaving a basket

chapter |13 pages

Of string bags and birds’ nests

Skill and the construction of artefacts

chapter |11 pages

The dynamics of technical change

chapter |19 pages

‘People like us’

The concept of the anatomically modern human

chapter |5 pages

, IS ?

chapter |14 pages

The poetics of tool use

From technology, language and intelligence to craft, song and imagination