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Culture and Cognition: evolutionary perspectives

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Bradley Franks
Palgrave Macmillan (8 April 2011)

Human culture depends on human minds for its creation, meaning and exchange. But minds also depend on culture for their contents and processes. Past resolutions to this circularity problem have tended to give too much weight to one side and too little weight to the other.

In this groundbreaking and timely work, Bradley Franks demonstrates how a more plausible resolution to the circularity problem emerges from reframing mind and culture and their relations in evolutionary terms. He proposes an alternative evolutionary approach that draws on views of mind as embodied and situated. By grounding social construction in evolution, evolution of mind is intrinsically connected to culture - resolving the circularity problem.

In developing his theory, Franks provides a balanced critical assessment of modularity-based and social constructionist approaches to understanding mind and culture.

  • Bradley Franks is a senior lecturer in psychology at LSE.

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'In this breathtakingly wide-ranging survey of recent efforts to understand the relationship between mind and culture, Franks seeks a novel rapprochement between social constructionism and nativism by grounding both in an overarching evolutionary framework... This book should stimulate much debate among social scientists.'
Harvey Whitehouse, professor of social anthropology, University of Oxford

'Is the mind a product of culture or is culture a product of the mind? Clearly, both must be true, but the circularity of this observation has long impaired our understanding of the true relationship between the mind and culture. Using new insights from evolutionary theory, Bradley Frank shows how to break out of this circularity. The result is a book that should be read by a wide range of anthropologists, psychologists, and philosophers.'
Lee Cronk, professor of anthropology, Rutgers University

Culture and Cognition