Philippe Descola

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Philippe Descola
Philippe Descola - June 2011
Born (1949-06-19) 19 June 1949 (age 71)
EraContemporary philosophy/Social anthropology/Ethnology/Social science
RegionFrench philosophy
Main interests
Anthropology, Epistemology, Ethnology, Ontology
Notable ideas
The four ontologies (animism, totemism, analogism, naturalism)

Philippe Descola, FBA (born 19 June 1949) is a French anthropologist noted for studies of the Achuar, one of several Jivaroan peoples, and for his contributions to anthropological theory.


Descola started with an interest in philosophy and later became a student of Claude Lévi-Strauss.[1] His ethnographic studies in the Amazon region of Ecuador began in 1976 and was funded by CNRS. He lived with the Achuar from 1976 to 1978.[2] His reputation largely arises from these studies. As a professor, he was invited several times in the University of São Paulo, Beijing, Chicago, Montreal, London School of Economics, Cambridge, St. Petersburg, Buenos Aires, Gothenburg, Uppsala and Leuven. He has given lectures in over forty universities and academic institutions abroad, including the Beatrice Blackwood Lecture at Oxford, the George Lurcy Lecture at Chicago, the Munro Lecture at Edinburgh, the Radcliffe-Brown Lecture at the British Academy, the Clifford Geertz Memorial Lecture at Princeton, the Jensen Lecture at Frankfurt and the Victor Goldschmidt Lecture at Heidelberg. He has chaired the Société des Américanistes since 2002 and the scientific committee of the Fondation Fyssen from 2001 to 2009, as well as holding memberships in many other scientific committees.[3] He has also be elected Honorary fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute and received in 2015 the honoris causa doctorate from the University of Montreal, Canada.[4] Descola is currently chair of anthropology at the Collège de France. His wife, Anne-Christine Taylor, is an ethnologist.


1996: CNRS Silver medal[5]

1997: Knight of the French Order of Academic Palms[6]

2004: French National Order of Merit[7]

2006: Foreign Honorary Members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences[8]

2010: Elected as corresponding fellow of the British Academy[9]

2010: Officer in the French Legion of Honor

2011: Édouard Bonnefous Prize from Academy of Moral and Political Sciences[10]

2012: CNRS Gold Medal

2014: International Cosmos Prize

2016: Commander in the French Legion of Honor[11]

Partial bibliography[edit]

  • Descola, Philippe (1994). In the society of nature: a native ecology in Amazonia. Cambridge Studies in Social and Cultural Anthropology 93. Nora Scott (trans.). Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. OCLC 27974392.
  • Descola, Philippe (1996). The spears of twilight: life and death in the Amazon jungle. Janet Lloyd (trans.). New York: New Press. OCLC 34471521.
  • Descola, Philippe (2013). Beyond Nature and Culture. Janet Lloyd (trans.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. OCLC 809911095.

Further reading[edit]


External links[edit]