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Institute for Logic, Language and Computation


9 February 2017, Workshop "Culture and Cognition", Göttingen, Germany

Date: Thursday 9 February 2017
Location: Göttingen, Germany

Lichtenberg-Kolleg/Historische Sternwarte & Leibniz Institute for Primate Research

Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

Workshop Culture and Cognition

Thursday, 9 February 2017

A number of disciplines make use of the concept of culture in their analyses, employing it in different contexts and with varying degrees of explicitness.

Asserting her observation of a 'primitive culture' or 'proto-culture' in chimpanzees, Jane Goodall (1963) cautiously advanced the definition that culture might consist "of behavior patterns transmitted by imitation or tuition." Shortly after, Clifford Geertz (1966) described culture as "a historically transmitted pattern of meanings embodied in symbols, a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which men communicate, perpetuate, and develop their knowledge about and attitudes toward life." More recently, and more generally, William McGrew (2004) defined culture as simply "the way we do things."

Notwithstanding the myriad definitions of culture, questions remain about how culture is related to social life, evolution, and cognitive processes on the individual level - e.g. in human psychology as explored in both developmental and cross-cultural analyses - and in the understanding of non-human behaviors such as social learning, imitation, and creative problem solving.

The present workshop invites scholars from anthropology, philosophy, primatology, psychology, and sociology, among other disciplines, to consider such questions as:
- What is culture?
- In what ways can it be studied?
- What might be the origins of culture?
- How is culture transmitted and transmuted?
- What is the relationship between culture and cognition; i.e. culture and the mind?
- What can comparative studies (either cross culturally or in comparative zoology) tell us about culture?

The goal of the workshop is to highlight interdisciplinary connections that will ameliorate our understanding of the phenomenon of culture and the ways in which this concept can enrich our analyses of cognition.

Invited Speakers:

Andrea Bender (University of Bergen), Liah Greenfeld (Boston University), Olivier Morin (Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena), Claudio Tennie (University of Tübingen)

Attendance at the workshop is free, but space is limited. To register please send an email to Jan-Wilke Brandt ( <mailto:>) by January 31.

For more information, contact .

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