Cultural Software: A Theory of Ideology

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Yale University Press, Jan 6, 2002 - Law - 335 pages
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In this book J. M. Balkin offers a strikingly original theory of cultural evolution, a theory that explains shared understandings, disagreement, and diversity within cultures. Drawing on many fields of study--including anthropology, evolutionary theory, cognitive science, linguistics, sociology, political theory, philosophy, social psychology, and law--the author explores how cultures grow and spread, how shared understandings arise, and how people of different cultures can understand and evaluate each other's views.

Cultural evolution occurs through the transmission of cultural information and know-how--"cultural software"--in human minds, Balkin says. Individuals embody cultural software and spread it to others through communication and social learning. Ideology, the author contends, is neither a special nor a pathological form of thought but an ordinary product of the evolution of cultural software. Because cultural understanding is a patchwork of older imperfect tools that are continually adapted to solve new problems, human understanding is partly adequate and partly inadequate to the pursuit of justice. Balkin presents numerous examples that illuminate the sources of ideological effects and their contributions to injustice. He also enters the current debate over multiculturalism, applying his theory to problems of mutual understanding between people who hold different worldviews. He argues that cultural understanding presupposes transcendent ideals and shows how both ideological analysis of others and ideological self-criticism are possible.
 

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Contents

BRICOLAGE AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF CULTURAL SOFTWARE
23
MEMETIC EVOLUTION
42
THE SPREAD OF CULTURAL SOFTWARE
74
CONCEPTIONS OF IDEOLOGY
101
AMBIVALENCE AND SELFREFERENCE
122
TRANSCENDENCE
142
HOMOLOGIES AND ASSOCIATIONS
216
METAPHOR METONYMY AND COGNITIVE MODELS
242
THE POWER OF UNDERSTANDING
261
KNOWLEDGE MADE FLESH
286
Index
327
Copyright

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Page 306 - Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964); Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1962).
Page 306 - Walter J. Ong, Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word (London: Methuen, 1982); Brian Stock, The Implications of Literacy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1983); Frances Yates, The Art of Memory (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966), "Print Culture," Encounter 52 (1979): 5964; John Fiske and John Hartley, Reading Television (London: Methuen, 1978).

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