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By Ernest Becker

Makes use of the disciplines of psychology, anthropology, sociology and psychiatry to provide an explanation for what makes humans act the way in which they do.

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Extra info for The Birth and Death of Meaning: An Interdisciplinary Perspective on the Problem of Man

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So, as in Dumont's kinship paradigm, the Non-Brahmin Tamil kinship system in Aruloor is also essentially bilateral in emphasis—but with a stronger stress on the matrilateral kin than is found in Dumont's model. n wjjmw^MB/WB-type kin or marriageable kin) and "kin"/ "terminological kin"/"consanguines" to designate "annan-tetmpi mnrai" (eB/yB-type kin or unmanageable kin) (1953, 1957). His dichotomy of "consanguines/affines" is confusing, however, and becomes misleading if applied to an area like Aruloor, where all castes assume that not only patrilineal "consanguines" but also all affines and potential affines are related "by blood" to Ego even before marriage.

Further, because they were the most preferred affines, they dominated all life-cycle rituals and gave the most important and expensive prestations (ritual gifts) at these events. Because they were gift-givers par excellence, they were very often described as the "most important" relatives. This flattering phrase was used repeatedly by informants from all Non-Brahmin Tamil castes to distinguish marriageable matrilateral kin from the patrilineage (the pankali). It is striking that even though inheritance rights and caste identity were transmitted in the male line (through the patrilineage), it was the affinal matrilateral kin who were spoken of more often.

This simple answer, however, carries important implications, for affincs are important not only because they are married but also because they, rather than agnates, are perceived as providing the strongest moral and material support to their male affines. To quote Annamalai Chettiar in full: "Ma-ma-n is so important becuase you can marry with his house—you can give and take spouses from his house. But you can't marry with your father's brothers' houses—therefore they aren't so important to you.

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