The article assumes that the expression “comparative relativism”—the title of the Common Knowledge symposium in which the essay appears—is neither tautological nor oxymoronic. Rather, the author construes the term as an apt synthetic characterization of anthropology and illustrates that idea by means of four quotations, taken from authors as different as Richard Rorty and David Schneider, Marcel Mauss and Henri Michaux. The quotations can be said to “exemplify” anthropology in terms that are interestingly (and diversely) restrictive: some of them amount to extrinsic negations of anthropology that would paralyze it; others suggest intrinsic negativities that would propel it. All of the passages chosen evoke the idea of belief, which is profoundly implicated, in all possible senses (and especially the worse ones), in the majority of arguments that connect the themes of anthropology, comparison, and relativism.

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