Culture and Cognition

Since I am new to this blogging business I am trying it out by stating my most fundamental position about culture and cognition which explains my suspicion of much of the work done in this field. Culture and cognition are always inseparably combined. The processes of cognition and history, though analytically different, do not have a seperate existence which can be recovered by ANY method whether developped in psychology or anthropology. The idea that one can obtain data that bypasses "culture" and gets to "nature" is futile. That work has to be done through theoretical reflection.
 

2 Comments

  • Lucien Dontask 22 December 2007 (00:00)

    Surely, in the case of non-human animals, including (in principle if not in practice) ancient human ancestors or neonates, one can study cognition without culture. So, is there an age in development or a stage in human evolution beyond which studying cognition without culture is not just incomplete but just wrong?

  • Lucien Dontask 22 December 2007 (00:00)

    Your point of view can be interpreted in two different ways: 1) There is no way we can distinguish cognition from culture, so we should not even try (quoting you: ”cognition and history, though analytically different, do not have a seperate existence which can be recovered by ANY method”). 2) We should try to disentangle cognition and culture, but only in the armchair. So there is a method by which we can gain access to human nature, but it is not empirical (”That work has to be done through theoretical reflection”). I understand quite well why one would support point of view number 1, but I can’t say I feel the bite of number 2. Which one do you suppport, and, if it is number 2, why is cognition, as opposed to culture and history, accessible to theoretical workers alone?