Mind, Body and Culture: Anthropology and the Biological Interface

Geoffrey Samuel



In this book, Geoffrey Samuel is concerned with the aspects of human behaviour which have been traditionally described as cultural or social. Are culture, society and similar concepts from anthropology and sociology of any real sense in making sense of human social life? How can we understand the relationship between the social group and the individual human beings, with their self-awareness and sense of personal identity, who make it up? Drawing on his background in physics, Samuel suggests a scientific approach involving a reconceptualization of many of the concepts we take for granted. The multimodal framework, or MMF, derives from this approach. It incorporates many of the insights of social and cultural anthropology, particularly the work of Gregory Bateson and Victor Turner, as well as being influenced by recent developments in the philosophy of science and related fields.

Samuel uses the multimodal framework to analyse ethnographic material drawn from a range of societies. He demonstrates how human populations differ both in the kinds of patterning of interpersonal behaviour which prevail, and in the ways in which patterns are manipulated and transformed.

Finally, the book considers some of the implications of the MMF for biological approaches, and focuses on questions of brain structure and on evolutionary explanations for human social behaviour.

Reviews of Mind, Body and Culture

A brief introduction to some of the ideas in Mind, Body and Culture 


Chapter 1. New paradigms and modal states

Chapter 2. A natural science of society

Chapter 3. Starting points I

Chapter 4. Starting points II

Chapter 5. Interpreting the flow

Chapter 6. The multimodal framework

Chapter 7. The Ndembu modal state repertoire

Chapter 8. Sociocentric modal states

Chapter 9. Shamanic mechanisms

Chapter 10. The growth of the clerical approach

Chapter 11. Technical and transformational mechanisms

Chapter 12. Mind, body and culture

Publication Details

Mind, Body and Culture: Anthropology and the Biological Interface. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New York, 1990.. xii + 192pp. (ISBN 0-521-37411-1)

Purchasing Information

This book is currently out of print. Enquiries may be directed to Cambridge University Press:

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GBS updated 03/03/2002