GuideToWeek_4 - Ant 302/Spring 2008 Instructor: Marte 1...

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Ant 302/Spring 2008 Instructor: Marte Guide to Week#4 Mediations: How we imagine the World Week #4 and Week# 5 are basically about Representation , which means both to bring to presence or present and also when one thing stands for another one . We explore how using diverse cultural resources, worldviews and communicative practices humans make sense of the world and the place they perceive they occupied in it. Representation is a concept ethnographers use to speak of sign systems; practices, performances and cultural signs we produce as humans in the process of surviving, playing and making sense of our lives. These two weeks explore the many different perspectives in how humans come to know what we think we know; the multiple cultural artifacts and ideologies through which we negotiate our perception of environments, of others and of ourselves. It is important to remember that perception, cognition, and representational practices are all processes. They are all as well open (this is, creative) and arbitrary (there is no ‘natural’ relations of correspondence between signs and the realities they refer to). Cognition & Worldviews Cognition is a process not an organ, it is the way humans create mental maps to organize internal and external experiences of themselves and reality; it includes perception, emotion, thinking & consciousness, and body-memory. Cognition is a dialectical process in the sense that it does not happen mechanically or lineally but organically. Some clarifications about logic: Formal logic (postulate dichotomies, mind vs. body- it pretends to be objective, context and value free abstract proposition-neutrality—yet this already betrays a position of privilege). Syllogism: all dogs have tails, Socrates has a tail, therefore Socrates is a dog. Dialectical logic (context dependent, concrete & historical--it is not either/or- it goes beyond oppositions instead proposes synthesis , many angles and meanings are necessary to understand one single event-there is always a politics to any naming and classification). It considers syllogisms silly propositions, for example, not all dogs have tails, indeed there may be some born without it or lost in an accident. ..Besides the conclusion of Socrates as a dog is a formal abstraction good for humor but not too informative or reliable. As humans we perceive reality through our senses, not one at a time but as a whole embodied experience, yet such perception is not universal or generic, nor is it transparent or direct but mediated by the cultural filters we have learned to interpret the world. Vision, for example, is a physiological ability; yet looking is a culturally learned way of interpreting visual information, not 1
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Ant 302/Spring 2008 Instructor: Marte only according to present information but through our memory of previous experiences. Looking is an active process of re-invention and interpretation, and so is hearing, touch, etc. In a society such as the US in our present historical times learning about reality is also mediated by extensions of our
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This note was uploaded on 04/22/2008 for the course ANT 302 taught by Professor Seriff during the Spring '07 term at University of Texas at Austin.

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GuideToWeek_4 - Ant 302/Spring 2008 Instructor: Marte 1...

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