I wonder, if someone were to describe my life, what they would say about my values. Would they list the same values as I would? Would they graciously point out that it is obviously complicated to try to put values into practice? Would they suggest that they can discern values driving my life that are hidden to me?
The anthropology of values / of morality / of ethics / of the good has received much attention recently (e.g. Hau, Anthropological Theory, the upcoming SAR meeting, James Laidlaw, Joel Robbins, etc). The anthropology of values / of morality / of ethics / of the good are not necessarily the same, and there are no agreed-upon definitions (shocking, I know). Ton Otto and Rane Willerslev helpfully point out that questions of value are elusive, both in the sense of what we are referring to as well as how we know about them. I wanted to sort through this some more. I’m interested in what it means to say that a particular group of Christians “value” something, and how anthropologists know what that “value” is.