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  on May 20, 2009 at 17.00

“What I told Lily. Are there Laws or Patterns in History and Anthropology?”

CEU Monument building, Gellner Room


Alan Macfarlane

University of Cambridge

Organized together with the Department of Social Anthropology

Does the study of history and anthropology teach us anything – are there any laws or patterns which we can discover and communicate? The philosophical dilemma illustrated by Popper, Berlin, John Stuart Mill and others. The meaning of laws, patterns and tendencies and the different kind of regularities in history and anthropology. Some examples of what we can find in biological, economic, social, political, technological and intellectual fields taken from letters written to a grand-daughter imagined to be about eighteen years old who is asking the ‘big’ questions about life.

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Alan Macfarlane is Professor of Anthropological Science at the University of Cambridge, where he has taught since 1971. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and a Life Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge. He has published seventeen books on many themes such as witchcraft, individualism, the family, demography, political philosophy, glass, tea and Japan. He has done fieldwork in Europe, Nepal, Japan and China. His lectures, writings and other materials can be seen on and some of his films on the ‘ayabaya’ channel of ‘Youtube’.
His book, /Letters to Lily: on How the World Works, /referred to in the title of the lecture, has just been published in Hungarian translation

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