Theories of Mind
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Division: The New School for Social Research
Course Number: GANT 6110
Course Format: Seminar
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
Individual minds inhabit complex cultural environments; yet thought is the activity solely of individual minds. Anthropologists have convincingly shown that all cultural traditions acknowledge that peoples’ thoughts undergird their actions, although the cultural narratives describing the relationship of thought to action often differ dramatically. Cognitive psychologists have found that the development of the rich ability to interpret and predict behavior in terms of unseen mental states is surprisingly robust across cultural and individual variation. Are these two traditions of research addressing different questions using similar language or are they addressing different aspects of the same phenomena? This seminar explores how it is that peoples, whether they are members of folk or academic communities, conceptualize the processes of thinking and the mechanisms that govern them. Out goal will be to understand this multitude of theories of mind and, in particular, the relationship--the contrasts and points of agreement--between cultural and psychological versions. For MA students of the NSSR anthropology department, this seminar fulfills the requirements of a Perspectives course.