“What Is Anthropological Enlightenment?” is an article written by Marshall Sahlins. It majors on modernity, indigenization, trans-locality, culture, and development. The article features comprehensive thoughts on some of the major surprises in anthropological theory occasioned in history in a number of instances among the indigenous cultures in 20th century (Sahlins 4).
Marshall’s article questions how modern knowledge in anthropology can liberate the societies from inherited ideas such as sexism, positivism, geneticist, Unitarianism and many other believes advocated by western philosophies posing on universal understanding of the human condition. In this regard, various aspects of the societies will improve. In his arguments, the author appears to disagree with the enlightenment of the 18th century philosophers as he argues that some of their insights were only narrow-minded concepts of the advocates of European expansion (Sahlins 4).
Citing certain illusions developed out of the western self-consciousness, Marshals argues that theses delusions are not too enlightening especially when viewed from the perspective of other cultures. The author’s arguments are defensible since western cultures have threatened the existence of indigenous cultures. Moreover, the author criticizes the false enlightenment advocated by the western culture asserting that when other cultures adopt the western cultures, western philosophers called it progress. Contrastingly, when the western culture adopts other culture dogmas, western philosophers view the act as a loss of culture (Sahlins 20).
In conclusion, Marshals views the western dominant views as intrusion to other people’s lives. He emphasizes that there is no such thing as domination, only that there is other people’s lives. Contrary to the inherited notions from the western concepts, the Marshals believe that the surviving victims of imperial capitalism neither became all like us (Sahlins 24). Similarly, the author contrasts the despondency theory by illustrating how surviving indigenous communities aim at reviving their lost cultural responsibility altered by the westerns. Throughout the article, the author contempt for western enlightenment is highlighted.