Culture in Mind: Cognition, Culture, and the Problem of Meaning / Edition 319

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Despite the recognized importance of cultural diversity in understanding the modern world, the emerging science of cognitive psychology has relied far more on experimental psychology, neurobiology, and computer science than on cultural anthropology for its models of how we think. In this exciting new book, anthropologist Bradd Shore has created the first study linking multi-culturalism to cognitive psychology, exploring the complex relationship between culture in public institutions and in mental representations. In so doing, he answers in a completely new way the age old question of whether humans are basically the same psychologically, independent of cultures, or basically diverse because of cultural differences. The first half of the book emphasizes cultural models, from Australian Aboriginal rituals and Samoan comedy skits, to more familiar terrain, including a study of baseball as a cultural model for Americans. Along the way, the author sheds new and novel light on many familiar institutions, from educational curricula and shopping malls to modular furniture and cyberpunk fiction. These observations are then linked to theoretical developments in linguistics, semiotics, and neuroscience, creating a bold new approach to understanding the role of culture in everyday meaning making. The author argues that culture must be considered an intrinsic component of the human mind to a degree that most psychologists and even many anthropologists have not recognized. This new position of cultural models will make absorbing reading for psychologists, anthropologists, linguists, and philosophers, and to anyone interested in the issues of cultural diversity, multiculturalism, or cognitive science in general.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A book of remarkable power and breadth, Culture in Mind addresses questions at the core of anthropological theory, and gives us a set of concepts and models we can really work with. Clearly argued and captivatingly developed through subtle analyses of ethnographic materials, the book resolves the old paradoxes of shared culture and motivated personal knowledge to build an account of meaning and cognition that will revitalize cultural anthropology."—Fredrik Barth

"In this important book, Shore argues that the dichotomy between the cultural and the physical is false....Academic and research libraries with anthropology collections will consider this a necessary purchase." —Library Journal

From the Foreword by Jerome Bruner: "The historical separation of anthropology and psychology, whatever may have caused it, must surely be counted as one of the most stunting developments in the history of the human sciences. . .Culture in Mind must be counted as a major event in the reopening of the frontier between the two disciplines. . .You may not agree with Bradd Shore's premises in detail, or you may even see their broad outlines somewhat differently. But what is plain as day is that our ways of life as students of humankind will be changed by what he has to say."

"Shore's book represents an important development in an evolving school of thought in cognitive and psychological anthropology...As such, it is of tremendous relevance to cognitive scientists and cognitive neuroscientists as a counterbalance to theories that assume an isolated information processor who learns from trial and error without prestructuring from cultural models...Shore's erudition is breathtaking...he exposes readers to models of many academic 'cultures' in a way that is likely to enrich substantially a reader from any of them....Shore has done an impressive job of bringing culture to the more cognitive sides of mind in a way that should be of tremendous interest to psychologists. In his ethnographic examples, he has also implicitly presented models for the more affective side of hima mentality that will increasingly become part of the explicit dialog between anthropologists and psychologists that this book is likely to catalyze."—Contemporary Psychology

"Culture in Mind is an extraordinarily important book. The schism that Shore cites between the study of mind and the study of culture is all too real and unfortunate for the whole range of cognitive and social sciences. Until I read Shore's introduction, I had no idea why the schism existed. Now that I know, it all seems all the more unfortunate. Shore's book couldn't be more timely. . .I am delighted that this book has been completed." —George Lakoff, University of California, Berkeley

"By covering a wide range of material, both theoretical and ethnographic (with examples drawn from American life, Samoa, Australia, and elsewhere), Shore brings a new angle and new passion to major topics. The result will be suggestive to advanced researchers, and both clear and exciting to upper-division undergraduates." —Choice

"In following Shore's stimulating presentation, the reader will be led through an informative history of anthropology's century-long struggle with the question of whether there is a common human nature or instead countless varieties of human kind."—Science Books & Films

Library Journal
For most of the 20th century, social scientists have assumed that all human beings essentially "think alike"-that seeming differences in the ways people conceive of the world are due to "superficial" cultural differences rather than to "actual" physical differences. This unquestioned tenet of anthropology arose in reaction to the Darwinian concepts of the previous century, where "different" was assumed to mean inferior to Western cognition. In this important book, Shore argues that the dichotomy between the cultural and the physical is false, since humans are necessarily culture-bearing creatures. In making this argument, he discusses diverse cultural models such as American baseball, Australian aborigine initiation, and the spatial arrangement of Samoan villages. While the ideas discussed here are important, the book is not easy reading and will be of interest mainly to anthropologists psychologists, alas, should pay greater attention to cross-cultural differences, but do not. Academic and research libraries with anthropology collections will consider this a necessary purchase.-Mary Ann Hughes, Neill P.L., Pullman, Wash.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195095975
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 3/28/1996
  • Edition number: 319
  • Pages: 448
  • Lexile: 1390L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.56 (w) x 9.61 (h) x 1.19 (d)

Table of Contents

PART I: The Problem of Culture in Mind
1. The Psychic Unity Muddle
2. Rethinking Culture as Models
PART II: The Cognitive Landscape of Modernity
3. Mind Games: Cognitive Baseball
4. Playing With Rules: Sport at the Borderlands of Time and Space
5. Interior Furnishings: Scenes from an American Foundational Schema
6. Technologic Trends: The Neuromatic Frame of Mind
PART III: Rethinking "Primitive Classification"
7. Totem as Practically Reason: Rationality Reconsidered
8. Kwakiutl Animal Symbolism: Food for Thought
PART IV: Dreamtime Learning
9. Dreamtime Learning, Inside-Out: The Narrative of the Wawilak Sisters
10. Dreamtime Learning, Outside-In: Murngin Age-Grading Rituals
PART V: The Problem of Multiple Models
11. Tropic Landscapes: Alternative Spatial Models in Samoan Culture
12. When Models Collide: Cultural Origins of Ambivalence
PART VI: Culture in Mind
13. Culture and the Problem of Meaning
14. Analogical Transfer and the Work of Culture

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