The Attraction of Opposites

Thought and Society in the Dualistic Mode
David Maybury-Lewis and Uri Almagor, Editors
Explores why societies throughout the world organize social thought and institutions in patterns of opposites


The Attraction of Opposites considers a puzzling phenomenon: Why do societies all over the world organize their social thought and institutions in patterns of opposites? The essays collected in this volume examine contemporary societies throughout the world that organize their social theories or institutions in binary form. Through analysis of these rich materials, the distinguished contributors explore the enduring human attraction to dualism. They consider whether this is due to the natural "twoness" of things and, if not, why polarity should play such a prominent role in both ancient cosmologies and modern philosophies, in early empires and in modern two-party systems.

This study of dual organization tells us something important about human beings, illuminating a mode of thought and social organization that has represented an attractive option throughout human history.

Praise / Awards

  • ". . . this book has made a great leap forward in the debate on democratic defenses. Somehow however, the developments after 9/112 have raised new questions that this book hardly touches on. Whether or not the defense of democracy would lead us to Carl Schmitt's authoritarian solution, most notably. If that happens hate discourse and terrorism would have achieved their goal of transforming liberal democracies into very illiberal or even fascist societies."
    --- Alberto Spektorowski, Tel Aviv University, e-Extreme, February 18, 2003
  • ". . . by focusing on the phenomenon of dualism in social arrangements and social thought, the volume raises important issues concerning the interrelationship between thought and experience, cosmology and society, and it provides a way for treating these issues that is neither unduly formalistic nor simply empirical. Those interested in African cosmologies would do well to consider it both for its ideas and for its evidence."
    --- Journal of Rel. Afr.

Look Inside


The Quest for Harmony by David Maybury-Lewis     1

Dual Organizations by Uri Almagor     19

1. Category and Complement: Binary Ideologies and the Organization of Dualism in Eastern Indonesia by James J. Fox     33

2. Ritual and Inequality in Guji Dual Organization by John Hinnant     57

3. The Complexity of Dual Organization in Aboriginal Australia by Kenneth Maddock     77

4. Social Theory and Social Practice: Binary Systems in Central Brazil by David Maybury-Lewis     97

5. Reciprocal Centers: The Siwa-Lima System in the Central Moluccas by Valerio Valeri     117

6. The Dialectic of Generation Moieties in an East African Society by Uri Almagor     143

7. Language and Conceptial Dualism: Sacred and Secular Concepts in Australian Aboriginal Cosmology and Myth by Aram A. Yengoyan     171

8. Dualism: Fuzzy Thinking or Fuzzy Sets by Anthony Seeger     191

9. Dual Organization and Its Developmental Potential in Two Contrasting Environments by Abraham Rosman and Paula G. Rubel     209

10. Historical Dimensions of Dual Organizations: The Generation-Class System of the Jie and the Turkana by John Lamphear     235

11. The Moieties of Cuzco by R. Tom Zuidema     255

12. The Organization of Action, Identity, and Experience in Arapesh Dualism by Donald Tuzin     277

13. The Maasai Double-Helix and the Theory of Dilemmas by Paul Spencer     297

14. Obligations to the Source: Complementarity and Hierarchy in an Eastern Indonesian Society by Elizabeth G. Traube     321

Dual Organizations and Sociological Theory by Shmuel N. Eisenstadt     345

Contributors     355

Index     359

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 384pp.
  • diagrams.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 1989
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-10094-1

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  • $99.95 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 1989
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-08086-1

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  • $33.95 U.S.