Unconsilience: Rethinking the Two-Cultures Conundrum in Anthropology

Bradd Shore

in Creating Consilience

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199794393
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919338 | DOI:

Series: New Directions in Cognitive Science

Unconsilience: Rethinking the Two-Cultures Conundrum in Anthropology

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Culture theory has been hampered by tensions between evolutionary psychology and cultural psychology. Evolutionary psychologists tend to see culture through the lens of Darwinian theory, and are interested in the selective conditions producing a stable cognitive architecture for human culture. Stressing culture rather than cultures, evolutionary psychologists see their enterprise as scientific and explanatory; cultural psychologists emphasize human cultures rather than culture, and stress the cultural basis of the diversity of local minds. Their attention has been to detailed descriptions of the systematic character of local cultures, viewed as symbol systems, ideologies, or cognitive and social models, an approach often associated with a humanistic rather than a scientific orientation. The tension between evolutionary psychology and cultural psychology has been intensified by the fact that each has attracted proponents of markedly different intellectual dispositions and methods. This chapter contrasts the presumed universalism of evolutionary psychology and the particularism of cultural psychology. It suggests that the opposition is based on a venerable but mistaken false dichotomy, and proposes a theoretical framework that allows for a reconciliation of their approaches to an adequate theory of culture.

Keywords: culture theory; evolutionary psychology; cultural anthropology; universalism; human culture

Chapter.  9331 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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