This paper proposes an ecological approach to the perception and interpretation of signs. The theory draws upon the ecological approach of James Gibson . It is proposed that cultural and natural perception can both be explained in terms of the direct pick-up of structured information and the Gibsonian concept of affordances without having to invoke a sharp distinction between direct and indirect perception. The application of the theory is exemplified through attention to language and to the visual and audio arts.
As militarization of bodies politic continues apace the world over, as military organizations again reveal themselves as primary political, economic and cultural forces in many societies, we argue that the emergent and potentially dominant form of political economic organization is a species of neo-feudal corporatism. Drawing upon Bourdieu, we theorize bodies politic as living habitus. Bodies politic are prepared for war and peace through new mediations, powerful means of public pedagogy. The process of militarization requires the generation of new, antagonistic (...) evaluations of other bodies politic. Such evaluations are inculcated via these mediations, the movement of meanings across time and space, between formerly disparate histories, places, and cultures. New mediations touch new and different aspects of the body politic: its eyes, its ears, its organs, but they are consistently targeted at the formation of dispositions, the prime movers of action. (shrink)
In the absence of explicit punitive sanctions, why do individuals voluntarily participate in intergroup warfare when doing so incurs a mortality risk? Here we consider the motivation of individuals for participating in warfare. We hypothesize that in addition to other considerations, individuals are incentivized by the possibility of rewards. We test a prediction of this “cultural rewards war-risk hypothesis” with ethnographic literature on warfare in small-scale societies. We find that a greater number of benefits from warfare is associated with a (...) higher rate of death from conflict. This provides preliminary support for the relationship between rewards and participation in warfare. (shrink)
This study reassesses the concept of the Anthropocene as a new geological age as it is influencing contemporary debates in social theory. As a unit of geological time whose changes are allegedly caused, directly and indirectly, by human beings, this scientific concept challenges the existing constructions of theoretical binaries, such as nature/culture, environment/society, objectivity/subjectivity or happenstance/design, in social theory. The analysis suggests many understandings of the Anthropocene in social theory are politicized over-interpretations of natural events, and these moves appear to (...) be developing moral rhetorics of, and operational plans for, managing the Anthropocene to create specific outcomes for those who are the managers as well as the managed. The fact that human beings do not, in fact, have this measure of technical control is ignored by advocates of Anthropocenarian politics to advance their policy agendas. (shrink)
Chimpanzee and hunter-gatherer intergroup aggression differ in important ways, including humans having the ability to form peaceful relationships and alliances among groups. This paper nevertheless evaluates the hypothesis that intergroup aggression evolved according to the same functional principles in the two species—selection favoring a tendency to kill members of neighboring groups when killing could be carried out safely. According to this idea chimpanzees and humans are equally risk-averse when fighting. When self-sacrificial war practices are found in humans, therefore, they result (...) from cultural systems of reward, punishment, and coercion rather than evolved adaptations to greater risk-taking. To test this “chimpanzee model,” we review intergroup fighting in chimpanzees and nomadic hunter-gatherers living with other nomadic hunter-gatherers as neighbors. Whether humans have evolved specific psychological adaptations for war is unknown, but current evidence suggests that the chimpanzee model is an appropriate starting point for analyzing the biological and cultural evolution of warfare. (shrink)
This study explores conceptual conflicts embedded in the thematic grounding of classical realism. To establish conditions of consistent normality in human political behaviour for realist analysis, the rhetoric of originary political wisdom usually ties its claims, as a research framework, to myth and enlightenment. Because Thucydides, Machiavelli or Hobbes articulated the premises of political realist analysis in the contexts of state formation, anarchic regional politics and perpetual war, these first figures of political authority seem to have set terms of geopolitical (...) analysis that erase context, arrest temporality and homogenise space by pointing analysis back to classical events, thinkers and struggles in mythic terms. Critical theorists ask if such mythic styles of reasoning are a credible approach, even though many accept such modes of analysis. Consequently, this study explores how myth affects political realist studies to question how statecraft perpetuates itself on reason, myth and their contradictions. (shrink)
Why do humans make music? Theories of the evolution of musicality have focused mainly on the value of music for specific adaptive contexts such as mate selection, parental care, coalition signaling, and group cohesion. Synthesizing and extending previous proposals, we argue that social bonding is an overarching function that unifies all of these theories, and that musicality enabled social bonding at larger scales than grooming and other bonding mechanisms available in ancestral primate societies. We combine cross-disciplinary evidence from archeology, anthropology, (...) biology, musicology, psychology, and neuroscience into a unified framework that accounts for the biological and cultural evolution of music. We argue that the evolution of musicality involves gene–culture coevolution, through which proto-musical behaviors that initially arose and spread as cultural inventions had feedback effects on biological evolution because of their impact on social bonding. We emphasize the deep links between production, perception, prediction, and social reward arising from repetition, synchronization, and harmonization of rhythms and pitches, and summarize empirical evidence for these links at the levels of brain networks, physiological mechanisms, and behaviors across cultures and across species. Finally, we address potential criticisms and make testable predictions for future research, including neurobiological bases of musicality and relationships between human music, language, animal song, and other domains. The music and social bonding hypothesis provides the most comprehensive theory to date of the biological and cultural evolution of music. (shrink)
Are there absolute truths that can be gradually approached over time through rational processes? Or are all modes and systems of thought equally valid if viewed from within their own internally consistent frames of reference? Are there universal forms of reasoning and understanding that enable us to distinguish between rational beliefs and those that are demonstrably false, or is everything relative?These central questions are addressed and debated by the distinguished contributors to this lively book. Some of them - Hollis, Lukes, (...) Robin Horton, and Ernest Gellner - discuss new directions in their thinking since their earlier articles appeared in 1970 in the seminal volume Rationality. They are now joined in the debate by Ian Hacking, W. Newton-Smith, Charles Taylor, Jon Elster, Dan Sperber, and, in the jointly authored lead article, by Barry Barnes and David Bloor.Emerging from the debate are a variety of supportable interpretations and conclusions rather than a single, distinct "truth." The contributors represent the complete spectrum of positions between a relativism that challenges the very concept of a single world and the idea that there are ascertainable, objective universals. (shrink)