Culture, Thought, and Development

Culture, Thought, and Development

Culture, Thought, and Development

Culture, Thought, and Development

Synopsis

In this volume, the reader will find a host of fresh perspectives. Authors seek to reconceptualize problems, offering new frames for understanding relations between culture and human development. Contributors include scholars from the disciplines of philosophy, law, theology, anthropology, developmental psychology, neuro- and evolutionary psychology, linguistics, cognitive science, and physics. To help organize the discussions, the volume is divided into three parts. Each part reflects an arena of current scholarly activity related to the analysis of culture, cognition, and development. The editors cast a wide but carefully crafted net in assembling contributions to this volume. Though the contributors span a wide range of disciplines, features common to the work include both clear departures from the polemics of nature-nurture debates and a clear focus on interacting systems in individuals' activities, leading to novel developmental processes. All accounts are efforts to mark new and productive paths for exploring intrinsic relations between culture and development.

Excerpt

Efforts to understand relations between culture and human development are longstanding in the social and behavioral sciences. It is infrequent, however, that scholars pursuing varied questions related to the topic have the opportunity for sustained interaction. The 1997 meetings of the Jean Piaget Society in Santa Monica, California, were planned to support just this kind of protracted crossdisciplinary exchange. This volume consists principally of invited contributions to the meeting. In addition, we are grateful to contributors who were not able to attend, including Penelope Brown and Stephen Levinson, as well as Martha Nussbaum.

The collection of chapters is unusual. All depart in significant ways from the "received" accounts of relations between culture and human development. In what we take as the received view, culture and the individual are understood as separate entities, and the crux of scholarly questions concern whether or in what way one factor -- culture of the individual -- affects change in the other.

Such received accounts vary widely. Some argue that culture and individual are autonomous, neither affecting the other in any fundamental way. For instance, one might argue that the development of the individual is controlled principally by self-regulative processes (e.g., biological) and that culture change is controlled principally by social or economic forces. Other accounts argue for causal relations -- typically that the development of the individual is a product of cultural life. Such latter accounts vary with the kind of development that is to be explained. For instance, childrearing practices may be studied as a factor that affects the moral or affective development of children, or language may be studied as a factor that affects children's classifications.

This volume contains a host of fresh perspectives. Often, authors seek to reconceptualize problems, offering new frames for understanding relations between culture and human development. Accounts often span disciplinary boundaries. Indeed, contributors to this volume include scholars from the disciplines of philosophy (Margolis); philosophy, law, and theology (Nussbaum); anthropology (Levinson, Strauss); developmental psychology (Brown, Greenfield, Nucci, Turiel); neuro- and evolutionary psychology (Donald); linguistics (Bowerman); and cognitive science and physics (diSessa). To help organize the discussion, we have partitioned the volume into three parts. Each part reflects an arena of scholarly activity related to the analysis of culture, cognition, and development.

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