Acts of Meaning: Four Lectures on Mind and Culture (The 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 figuring out brain as a author of meanings. simply via breaking out of the constraints imposed by way of a computational version of brain do we grab the specific interplay during which brain either constitutes and is constituted by means of tradition.

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

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Richard Hermstein, for example, describes one amusingly called "dearer by the dozen" in which it can be shown that people prefer to buy season symphony tickets even 28 • The Proper Study of Man • when they know they will probably go to only half the concerts. 39 The way to handle the anomaly is to assign "snobbery" or "commitment" or "laziness" a value in the choice situation. The value assigned is one that makes the result conform to utility theory. 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.

Elaine Scarry points out in her moving book The Body in Pain that the power of pain (as in torture) is that it obliterates our connection with the personalcultural world and wipes out the meaningful context that gives direction to our hopes and strivings. 29 It narrows human consciousness to the point where, as torturers know, man literally becomes a beast. And even at that, pain does not always succeed, so powerful are the links to those meanings that give sense to life. The ghastly bestialization of the Holocaust and its death camps was designed as much to dehumanize as to kill, and it was this that made it the darkest moment in human history.

As Clifford Geertz puts it, without the constituting role of culture we arc "unworkable monstrosities . . " 18 These arc all by now rather banal conclusions in anthropology, but not in psychology. There arc three good reasons to mention them here at the very start of our discussion. The first is a deep metbodological point: the constitutive argument. ago-Cfydc Kluckhohn used o insist, human beings do not terminate at their own skins; they arc expressions of a culture. To treat the world as an indifferent flow of information to be processed by individuals each on his or her own terms is to lose sight of how individuals are formed and how they function.

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