Non-Fiction Books:

The Native Mind and the Cultural Construction of Nature

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Paperback

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The Native Mind and the Cultural Construction of Nature by Scott Atran
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Description

An analysis of the cognitive consequences of diminished contact with nature examines the relationship between how people think about the natural world and how they act on it, and how these are affected by cultural differences. Surveys show that our growing concern over protecting the environment is accompanied by a diminishing sense of human contact with nature. Many people have little commonsense knowledge about nature-are unable, for example, to identify local plants and trees or describe how these plants and animals interact. Researchers report dwindling knowledge of nature even in smaller, nonindustrialized societies. In The Native Mind and the Cultural Construction of Nature, Scott Atran and Douglas Medin trace the cognitive consequences of this loss of knowledge. Drawing on nearly two decades of cross-cultural and developmental research, they examine the relationship between how people think about the natural world and how they act on it and how these are affected by cultural differences. These studies, which involve a series of targeted comparisons among cultural groups living in the same environment and engaged in the same activities, reveal critical universal aspects of mind as well as equally critical cultural differences. Atran and Medin find that, despite a base of universal processes, the cultural differences in understandings of nature are associated with significant differences in environmental decision making as well as intergroup conflict and stereotyping stemming from these differences. The book includes two intensive case studies, one focusing on agro-forestry among Maya Indians and Spanish speakers in Mexico and Guatemala and the other on resource conflict between Native-American and European-American fishermen in Wisconsin. The Native Mind and the Cultural Construction of Nature offers new perspectives on general theories of human categorization, reasoning, decision making, and cognitive development.

Author Biography

Scott Atran is Research Director in Anthropology at France's National Center for Scientific Research and Visiting Professor of Psychology and Public Policy at the University of Michigan. He is the coeditor, with Douglas Medin, of Folkbiology (MIT Press, 1999). Douglas L. Medin is Louis W. Menk Professor of Psychology and Professor of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University. He is the coauthor of The Native Mind and the Cultural Construction of Nature and coeditor of Folkbiology, both published by the MIT Press. Robert A. Wilson is Professor of Philosophy at La Trobe University, the author of Genes and the Agents of Life, and coeditor of The MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences and of Explanation and Cognition (MIT Press). He directed the project that built EugenicsArchive.ca and is a director and the executive producer of the documentary Surviving Eugenics. Kim Sterelny is Professor of Philosophy at Australian National University and Victoria University of Wellington. His books include Language and Reality (with Michael Devitt; second edition, MIT Press).
Release date Australia
January 22nd, 2010
Country of Publication
United States
Illustrations
1 line drawing, 2 maps, 25 graphs, 22 tables; 23 Illustrations, unspecified
Imprint
Bradford Books
Pages
344
Dimensions
152x229x14
ISBN-13
9780262514088
Product ID
3959270

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