Art as Culture: An Introduction to the Anthropology of Art

By Evelyn Payne Hatcher | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
Who? The Psychological Perspective
When art has been approached from the psychological point of view, four concepts have been central: perception, creativity, personality and the psychological functions of art. The anthropological questions relating to these concepts have to do with the ways in which perception, creativity, personality and functions are similar in different cultural contexts, and the ways in which they are specific to each cultural setting. Most of the answers to these questions have so far been impressionistic and conjectural, but there is gradually building up a body of information by which we can test and reformulate the various theories. However, by taking the comparative viewpoint, it becomes necessary from the start to re-examine some assumptions and re-define some of the terms based on these assumptions. The great emphasis on individuality and progress in the cultural values of Western society has meant that psychological questions have centeredon theartist, and on innovation, but in cross-cultural perspective the questions are broader.
Perception
A psychological question that has been asked that relates to visual forms and modal personalities is whether visual productions are culturally distinct by virtue of the fact that things appear different to different peoples, and what is the extent and nature of these differences in perception. To do this, it is important to distinguish between different meanings that have been given to the word perception, which can mean:
1) physiological perception -- perception in the narrow! sense of' what sensory organs can and do respond to,
2) how people organize and describe these physiological perceptions, and
3) what meanings they give to what they see.

1. Perception in sense one, being a matter of physics and physiology appear to be very much alike for all members of the human species. Slight variations due to differences in experience with one kind of perceptive quality or another is

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Art as Culture: An Introduction to the Anthropology of Art
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Theoretical Note xi
  • About the Illustrations xiii
  • Acknowledgements xv
  • Introduction to the Second Edition xvii
  • Chapter 1 - Contexts and Comparisons: The Anthropological Approach 1
  • Further Reading 20
  • Chapter 2 - Where? The Geographical Dimension 21
  • Further Reading 54
  • Chapter 3 - How? The Technological Means 55
  • Further Reading 84
  • Chapter 4 - Who? The Psychological Perspective 85
  • Further Reading 112
  • Chapter 5 - Why? Social Contexts and Social Functions 113
  • Further Reading 134
  • Chapter 6 - "What. . . ?" Art as Communication 135
  • Further Reading 166
  • Chapter 7 - When and Whence? The Time Dimension 167
  • Further Reading 196
  • Chapter 8 - The Esthetic Mystery 197
  • Further Reading 207
  • Chapter 9 - The Global Context: The 15th Century 209
  • Chapter 10 - Globalization: The 20th Century 229
  • Ethnographic Notes and Index 255
  • Glossary with notes on various usages 287
  • Bibliography 303
  • Bibliography for Second Edition 327
  • Subject and Author Index 331
  • A NOTE ON THE TYPE IN THIS BOOK 337
  • About the Author *
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