Acts of Meaning (Four Lectures on Mind and Culture - by Jerome Bruner

By Jerome Bruner

Jerome Bruner argues that the cognitive revolution, with its present fixation on brain as "information processor;" has led psychology clear of the deeper goal of figuring out brain as a author of meanings. basically through breaking out of the restrictions imposed by means of a computational version of brain do we seize the distinct interplay by which brain either constitutes and is constituted via tradition.

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Does the first mimic the second or vice versa? How does narrative acquire its form? " And it is hard to deny that the forms of narrative arc, as it were, sedimentary residues of traditional ways of telling, as with Albert Lord's thesis that all narrative is rooted in our ancient heritage of storytelling. In a related vein, Northrop Frye asserted that literature shapes itself out of its own traditions so that even its innovations grow out of traditional roots. Paul Ricocur also sees tradition as providing what he calls "the impossible logic of narrative structures" through which myriad sequences arc tied together to make narratives.

There are procedures of negotiation,. moreover, for getting back on the track when these canonical · relations are violated. - · ogy or mental science, for that matter. _. A cultural psychology, almost by definition, will not be preoccupied with "behavior'' but with "action," its intentionally based counterpart, and more specifically, with situated ac- · tion-action situated in a cultural setting, and in the mutually · interacting intentional states of the participants. Which is not 19 • Acts of Meaning • to say that a culrural psychology need dispense forevermore with laboratory experiments or with the search for human wtivcrsals, a matter to which we rurn now.

The very people and cultures that are its subject are governed by shared meanings and values. People commit their lives to their pursuit and fulfillment, die for them. It has been argued that psychology must be culture-free if it is some day to discover a set of transcendent human universals-even if these universals are hedged by specifications about "cross-cultural" variations. 27 Let me propose a way of conceiving of human universals that is consistent with cultural psychology, yet escapes both the indeterminacies of relativism and the trivialities of crosscultural psychology.

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