Cultural Software: A Theory of Ideology
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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BRICOLAGE AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF CULTURAL SOFTWARE
THE SPREAD OF CULTURAL SOFTWARE
CONCEPTIONS OF IDEOLOGY
AMBIVALENCE AND SELFREFERENCE
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ability analysand argue articulate associations behavior beliefs biological bricolage cognitive cognitive dissonance communication conception of ideology conceptual oppositions consciousness contexts create critical cultural bricolage cultural evolution cultural know-how cultural software cultural tools cultural transmission cultural understanding Darwin's Dangerous Idea discourse distorted dominant entities environment evolutionary example existence expectations explain false false consciousness filters forms of cultural Foucault genes genetic groups Hence hermeneutic hermeneutic power heuristics homology human culture human minds idea ideological analysis ideological effects important individuals interests judge jury justice kind means mechanisms meme pool memetic evolution metaphor metonymic narrative natural selection normative notion organisms particular person possible problem produce reason scripts sense shared similar simply skills social world spread Stephen Jay Gould story structures study of ideology survival symbolic forms theory of cultural theory of ideology things thinking tools of understanding tradition transcendent value truth unjust
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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