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

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 aim of knowing brain as a author of meanings. merely by means of breaking out of the restrictions imposed through a computational version of brain do we take hold of the targeted interplay during which brain either constitutes and is constituted by way of tradition.

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Extra resources for Acts of Meaning (Four Lectures on Mind and Culture - Jerusalem-Harvard Lectures)

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It alters with the culture's changing responses to the world and to the people in it. It is worth asking how the views of such intellectual heroes as Darwin, Marx, and Freud gradually become transformed , and absorbed into folk psychology, and I say this to make plain that (as we shall see in the final chapter) cultural psychology is often indistinguishable from cultural history. Antimentalistic fury about folk psychology simply misses the point. The idea of jettisoning it in the interest of getting rid of mental states in our everyday explanations of human behavior is tantamount to throwing away the very phenomena that psychology needs to explain.

V And this inevitably brings us to the issue of relativism. For what can we mean when we say that we are not very "adept" or "ingenious" in constructing our social worlds? Who judges so, and by what standards? If culture forms mind, and if minds make such value judgments, are we not locked into an inescapable relativism? We had better examine what this might mean. It is the epistemological side of relativism, rather than the evaluative, that must concern us first. Is what we know "absolute," or is it always relative to some perspective, some point of view?

What was obvious from the start was perhaps too obvious to be fully appreciated, at least by us psychologists who by habit and by tradition think in rather individualistic terms. The symbolic systems that individuals used in constructing meaning were systems that were already in place, already "there," deeply entrenched in culture and language. They constituted a very special kind of communal tool kit whose tools, once used, made the user a reftection of the community. We psychologists concentrated on how individuals "acquired'' these systems, how they made them their own, much as we would ask how organisms in general acquired skilled adaptations to the natural environment.

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