This introduction to “Anthropological Philosophy: Symposium on an Unanticipated Conceptual Practice” comprises a brief history of attitudes among anthropologists toward the philosophical field of ontology, and attitudes among professional philosophers toward the kinds of alien and marginal thinking with which anthropology is concerned. After the narrative reaches what has been called the “ontological turn” in anthropology, which is generally assumed to represent the current moment in relations between the disciplines, the author discloses the recent emergence of an unexpected cultural practice: a hybrid of anthropology and philosophy that takes metaphysics, as distinct from ontology, as both its object and its method. The distinction between metaphysics and ontology is crucial to this new “intellectual space” because, while ontology is an unconscious possession of any people, metaphysics is a demanding speculative discipline whose becoming an object of anthropology suggests that indigenous peoples consciously deal with questions about what is real and what is not in ways so impressive and sophisticated that they can be compared with the efforts of credentialed philosophers. In this emergent conceptual practice, moreover, the work of academic philosophers is open to elaboration and correction in response to the findings of tribal and Western marginal thinkers. Among the developers of anthropological philosophy are said to be the Brazilian anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro (the author of Cannibal Metaphysics), the French philosopher Patrice Maniglier (who works in an area he terms “comparative ontology”), and the other contributors to this symposium, whose articles the author goes on, in this context, to describe and assess.

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