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Can We (Really) Put Ourselves in Other People’s Shoes?

From the book Human Understanding as Problem

Michel Le Du

Abstract

This chapter aims at displaying the various possible interpretations of the well-known phrase, “putting oneself in another person’s shoes.” Obviously, one need not become what might once have been referred to as a ‘primitive’ in order to understand the so-called primitives. Nevertheless, an anthropologist has to adopt the natives’ point of view if he or she is to grasp their understanding of the world and how it shapes their conduct and decisions. Accordingly, with the help of Ludwig Wittgenstein and Clifford Geertz, this essay tries to elucidate that in which such an adoption consists.

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