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new book – ‘The Anthropology of Intentions: Language in a World of Others’ by Alessandro Duranti

January 18, 2015

The Anthropology of Intentions

The Anthropology of Intentions: Language in a World of Others by Alessandro Duranti (Cambridge University Press, 2015)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

How and to what extent do people take into account the intentions of others? Alessandro Duranti sets out to answer this question, showing that the role of intentions in human interaction is variable across cultures and contexts. Through careful analysis of data collected over three decades in US and Pacific societies, Duranti demonstrates that, in some communities, social actors avoid intentional discourse, focusing on the consequences of actions rather than on their alleged original goals. In other cases, he argues, people do speculate about their own intentions or guess the intentions of others, including in some societies where it was previously assumed they avoid doing so. To account for such variation, Duranti proposes an ‘intentional continuum’, a concept that draws from phenomenology and the detailed analysis of face-to-face interaction. A combination of new essays and classic re-evaluations, the book draws together findings from anthropology, linguistics and philosophy to offer a penetrating account of the role of intentions in defining human action.

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out in paperback – ‘How Authors’ Minds Make Stories’ (& 1 more) by Patrick Colm Hogan

December 22, 2014

How Authors' Mind Make Stories

How Authors’ Minds Make Stories by Patrick Colm Hogan (Cambridge University Press, 2014)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

This book explores how the creations of great authors result from the same operations as our everyday counterfactual and hypothetical imaginations, which cognitive scientists refer to as “simulations.” Drawing on detailed literary analyses as well as recent research in neuroscience and related fields, Patrick Colm Hogan develops a rigorous theory of the principles governing simulation that goes beyond any existing framework. He examines the functions and mechanisms of narrative imagination, with particular attention to the role of theory of mind, and relates this analysis to narrative universals. In the course of this theoretical discussion, Hogan explores works by Austen, Faulkner, Shakespeare, Racine, Brecht, Kafka, and Calvino. He pays particular attention to the principles and parameters defining an author’s narrative idiolect, examining the cognitive and emotional continuities that span an individual author’s body of work.

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Another newly issued paperback by the same author:

What Literature Teaches Us About Emotions

What Literature Teaches Us about Emotion by Patrick Colm Hogan (Cambridge University Press, 2014)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

Literature provides us with otherwise unavailable insights into the ways emotions are produced, experienced, and enacted in human social life. It is particularly valuable because it deepens our comprehension of the mutual relations between emotional response and ethical judgment. These are the central claims of Hogan’s study, which carefully examines a range of highly esteemed literary works in the context of current neurobiological, psychological, sociological, and other empirical research. In this work, he explains the value of literary study for a cognitive science of emotion and outlines the emotional organization of the human mind. He explores the emotions of romantic love, grief, mirth, guilt, shame, jealousy, attachment, compassion, and pity – in each case drawing on one work by Shakespeare and one or more works by writers from different historical periods or different cultural backgrounds, such as the eleventh-century Chinese poet Li Ch’ing-Chao and the contemporary Nigerian playwright Wole Soyinka.

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Amazon Deals in Books – $3.87 for ‘The Power of Metaphor: Examining Its Influence on Social Life’

December 5, 2014

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new book – ‘The Domestication of Language: Cultural Evolution and the Uniqueness of the Human Animal’ by Daniel Cloud

December 1, 2014

The Domestication of Language

The Domestication of Language: Cultural Evolution and the Uniqueness of the Human Animal by Daniel Cloud (Columbia University Press, 2014)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

Language did not evolve only in the distant past. Our shared understanding of the meanings of words is ever-changing, and we make conscious, rational decisions about which words to use and what to mean by them every day. Applying Darwin’s theory of “unconscious artificial selection” to the evolution of linguistic conventions, Daniel Cloud suggests a new, evolutionary explanation for the rich, complex, and continually reinvented meanings of our words.

The choice of which words to use and in which sense to use them is both a “selection event” and an intentional decision, making Darwin’s account of artificial selection a particularly compelling model of the evolution of words. After drawing an analogy between the theory of domestication offered by Darwin and the evolution of human languages and cultures, Cloud applies his analytical framework to the question of what makes humans unique, and how they became that way. He incorporates insights from David Lewis’s Convention, Brian Skyrms’s Signals, and Kim Sterelny’s Evolved Apprentice, all while emphasizing the role of deliberate human choice in the crafting of language over time. His clever and intuitive model casts humans’ cultural and linguistic evolution as an integrated, dynamic process, with results that reach into all corners of our private lives and public character.

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See also: Author’s homepage

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new book – ‘Ostension: Word Learning and the Embodied Mind’ by Chad Engelland

November 9, 2014

Ostension

Ostension: Word Learning and the Embodied Mind by Chad Engelland (MIT Press, 2014)

(amazon.co.uk)

Book description from the publisher:

Ostension is bodily movement that manifests our engagement with things, whether we wish it to or not. Gestures, glances, facial expressions: all betray our interest in something. Ostension enables our first word learning, providing infants with a prelinguistic way to grasp the meaning of words. Ostension is philosophically puzzling; it cuts across domains seemingly unbridgeable — public–private, inner–outer, mind–body. In this book, Chad Engelland offers a philosophical investigation of ostension and its role in word learning by infants. Engelland discusses ostension (distinguishing it from ostensive definition) in contemporary philosophy, examining accounts by Quine, Davidson, and Gadamer, and he explores relevant empirical findings in psychology, evolutionary anthropology, and neuroscience. He offers original studies of four representative historical thinkers whose work enriches the understanding of ostension: Wittgenstein, Merleau-Ponty, Augustine, and Aristotle. And, building on these philosophical and empirical foundations, Engelland offers a meticulous analysis of the philosophical issues raised by ostension. He examines the phenomenological problem of whether embodied intentions are manifest or inferred; the problem of what concept of mind allows ostensive cues to be intersubjectively available; the epistemological problem of how ostensive cues, notoriously ambiguous, can be correctly understood; and the metaphysical problem of the ultimate status of the key terms in his argument: animate movement, language, and mind. Finally, he argues for the centrality of manifestation in philosophy. Taking ostension seriously, he proposes, has far-reaching implications for thinking about language and the practice of philosophy.

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