By Jerome Bruner

ISBN-10: 0674003608

ISBN-13: 9780674003606

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 figuring out brain as a author of meanings. simply through breaking out of the constraints imposed through a computational version of brain do we snatch the unique interplay wherein brain either constitutes and is constituted through tradition.

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Additional resources for Acts of Meaning: Four Lectures on Mind and Culture

Sample text

Cognitive scientists, in the main, have no quarrel with the idea that behavior is directed, even directed toward goals. " But cognitive science in its new mood, despite all its hospitality toward goal-directed behavior, is still chary of a concept of agency. For "agency" implies the conduct of action under the sway of intentional states. So action based on belief, desire, and moral commitment-unless it is purely stipulative in Dennett's sens~is now regarded as something to be eschewed by right-minded cognitive scientists.

For biologically imposed limits on human functioning are also challenges to cultural invention. The tool kit of any culture can be described as a set of prosthetic devices by which human beings can exceed or even redefine the "natural limits" of human functioning. Human tools are precisely of this order-soft ones and hard ones alike. There is, for example, a constraining biological limit on immediate memory-George Miller's famous "seven plus or minus two. "28 But we have constructed symbolic devices for exceeding this limit: coding systems like octal digits, mnemonic devices, language tricks.

Nor, as we shall sec presently, does it condemn one to a rubbery relativism. The solution to the issue of universals lies in exposing a widely held and rather old-fashioned fallacy that the human sciences inherited from the nineteenth ccnrury, a view about the relation between biology and culrurc. In that version, culrure was conceived as an "overlay" on biologically determined human narurc. The causes of human behavior were assumed to lie in that biological substrate. oper causes of human action.

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


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