Download Acts of Meaning: Four Lectures on Mind and Culture by Jerome Bruner PDF

By Jerome Bruner

Jerome Bruner argues that the cognitive revolution, with its present fixation on brain as "information processor; " has led psychology clear of the deeper goal of knowing brain as a writer of meanings. in basic terms by means of breaking out of the constraints imposed by means of a computational version of brain will we seize the exact interplay during which brain either constitutes and is constituted by means of tradition.

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Indeed, neuroscientists and physical anthopologists are coming increasingly to the view that cultural requirements and opportunities played a critical role in selecting neural characteristics in the evolution of man-a view most recently espoused by Gerald Edelman on neuroanatomical grounds, by Vernon Reynolds on the basis of physical anthropological evidence, and by Roger Lewin and Nicholas Humphrey with reference to primate evolutionary data. steswissenschaften, the sciences of mental life. 2 In this chapter, we shall be principally concerned with one crucial feature of cultural psychology.

Like all cultures, it is premised upon values· that generate distinctive ways of life and corresponding conceptions of reality. Though it values the refreshments of surprise, it is not always proof against the shocks that open-mindedness sometimes inflicts. Its very open-mindedness generates its own enemies, for there is surely a biological constraint on appetites for novelty. I take the constructivism of cultural psychology to be a profound expression of democratic culture. 42 It demands that we be conscious of how we come to our knowledge and as conscious as we can be about the values that lead us to our perspectives.

And this, of course, gives the game away. If you accept utility theory (or one of its variants) you simply assign values to choices in a manner that makes choice behavior conform to its tenets. Rational choice theory has little or nothing to say about how values arise--whether they are gut reactions, whether historically determined, or what. Both the irrationalist and the rationalist approaches to values miss one crucial point: values inhere in commitment to "ways of life," and ways of life in their complex interaction constitute a culture.

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