Cognitive Mechanisms of Cultural Knowledge Transmission
Cognitive mechanisms of cultural knowledge transmission
György Gergely & Gergely Csibra
Recent advances in cognitive science have radically transformed our thinking about the role of cognition in explaining culture. Historically the study of the origins, transmission, and variety of human cultural forms considered the fields of human anthropology and the psychology of human learning and cognition to be only loosely related at best. However, the new perspective provided by advances in developmental psychology, cognitive anthropology, and evolutionary psychology have changed this picture in significant and empirically fruitful ways. The course will explore the results and theoretical implications of current cross-cultural and comparative research on how universal core knowledge systems and their interaction with different cultural and linguistic environmental inputs can account for the stability as well as the variability of cultural forms and knowledge structures for different domains. We will also explore recent theoretical models for explaining the nature of a variety of cultural belief systems and social practices, such as religious and supernatural beliefs, as examples of cognitively partially opaque knowledge structures that form and proliferate by simultaneously exploiting the content specifications of several systems of primary cognitive adaptations.