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Individuals

Individuals

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Individuals

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  1. Individuals

  2. Individuals • In order to coordinate and cooperate, people need to understand each other • This requires communication

  3. Communication • Ants communicate via pheromones • E. O. Wilson • Bees communicate via elaborate dances • Von Frisch • Humans communicate principally through language

  4. The importance of common language • Communication facilitated by common language • The Tower of Babel

  5. Genesis 11 (King James Version): 11:1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. 11:2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. 11:3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. 11:4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. 11:5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. 11:6 And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. 11:7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. 11:8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. 11:9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

  6. Insufficiency of common language • Shared language is essential • But it is not enough

  7. Insufficiency of common language • Language offers a means of describing objects and feelings • Without common knowledge, no understanding • Cricket vs. baseball • But the meaning given to objects is variable

  8. For example • Weights and measures • Currency • Time (the calendar)

  9. For example • What is the meaning of a coke bottle to you? • What is the meaning of a coke bottle to the people in the movie “The Gods Must Be Crazy?”

  10. Meaning, cont’d • What is the meaning of an apple to you? • What is the meaning of an apple to • Snow White? • A teacher? • A Kazakh? • An American?

  11. Meaning, cont’d • Meaning affects how people behave • Lack of shared meaning may create conflicts

  12. Explaining meaning • If shared meanings matter so much, then we need to explain them

  13. Karl Marx

  14. Marx • What is Marx trying to explain? • Shared meaning: consciousness/ideology

  15. Marx: Cause • Men differ from animals in that they produce their means of life • What individuals are corresponds with what they produce and how they produce it • The production of ideas and concepts flows from man’s material activity and commerce

  16. Marx: Cause • Cause: The mode of production • What we produce and how we produce it

  17. Marx: Causal Relation • Mode of Production  Ideology

  18. Marx: Mechanisms/Assumptions • People are malleable • Not innately “good” or “evil” • Rather, we change depending on our material world

  19. Marx: Draw the theory Mode of Production Ideology

  20. Marx: How do we know if the theory has merit? • Look at the empirical world

  21. Empirical implications • Ideals of sharing should be more pronounced in societies dominated by big game hunters than in those dominated by gatherers of salmon and berries • Groups that participate in the global economy ought to see things differently than those that engage primarily in subsistence agriculture (see work by the Norms and Preferences Network)

  22. Emile Durkheim

  23. Durkheim • What is Durkheim trying to explain? • Religion/Beliefs • Why some objects/actors/ideas are viewed as sacred • So, Outcome = Beliefs

  24. Durkheim, cont’d • Religion involves sacred things • Sacred versus profane • Sacred things • Set apart by a peculiar attitude of respect toward them • Totem • Profane things • Defined by their intrinsic properties

  25. Durkheim on ritual • Rites are the actions that are performed in relation to sacred things • Without knowing its beliefs, the ritual of religion is incomprehensible • You cannot understand rituals by invoking instrumental logic • Rituals are symbolic • Rituals are indicative of the existence of common values in a society

  26. Where do notions of sacredness come from? • Society • The intensity of social interactions So, Cause = Intensity of Interaction

  27. Durkheim: Mechanism/Assumption • Social interaction produces emotion • Sense of obligation • General efferverscence • People have the desire and capacity to attribute cause • They attribute their strong emotions to the divine

  28. Durkheim • Thus strong emotions generate religious beliefs and sentiments

  29. Durkheim • In turn, beliefs affect behavior • Individuals living in moral harmony have a sense of confidence • Individuals act in accordance with their beliefs • Contradictory beliefs are held at bay

  30. Durkheim: Draw the theory Intensity of social interaction Belief Individual action consistent with belief

  31. Durkheim • How do we know whether the theory has merit? • Look at the empirical world

  32. Fleck on scientific facts • Durkheim: religious and political concepts have social roots, but scientific concepts are universal • Fleck: scientific concepts are also social constructions

  33. Fleck, cont’d • Research findings only become scientific facts via extended social negotiation • ‘thought styles’ • Cf. T. S. Kuhn: ‘paradigms’ in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1970)

  34. The case of syphillis • 15th c: syphillis first described. Cause: the product of a particular astrological configuration on 11/25/1484 • 21st c: syphillis caused by the bacterium Spirochaeta pallida

  35. One-sex vs. two sex model • From ancient Greece to the 18th c, men and women were regarded as having the same type -- a male type -- of body • Females thought to have the same reproductive organs as men, only turned inside out (Laqueur 1990) • 18th c. onward: prominence of the ‘two-sex’ model

  36. Fleck: Cause • Networks of interaction

  37. Fleck: Outcome • ‘thought collective’ • ‘thought style’

  38. Fleck: Mechanisms • Communication, misinterpretation • Because we can’t see inside each others’ heads, communication is imperfect • Furthermore, people have ideas when interacting with each other that they wouldn’t have had otherwise

  39. Fleck: Draw the theory Networks of interaction Thought style

  40. Fleck • How do we know if the theory has merit? • Look at the empirical world

  41. George Herbert Mead

  42. Mead • Not only are ideologies, beliefs, and scientific facts socially constructed, so is the individual • We know who we are only by understanding how others see us • We take on their attitudes towards us

  43. Mead • The unity of the ‘self’ comes from membership in social groups • We can only be ourselves if we are members of a group

  44. Mead: The generalized other • We not only take on the attitudes of others towards us. We also take on their attitudes towards activities. • Only when people take on the same attitudes towards social activities is it possible to organize social life

  45. Mead • For Mead, the problem of social order is like a game • The problem is making sure that everyone knows the rules of the game

  46. Mead • Example: The game of baseball

  47. The game • Once everyone knows the rules of the game, they behave accordingly • When people take on the attitudes of the community, then in some way their behavior is dictated by the group • Note that individuals direct their own behavior because they have internalized the attitudes of the group

  48. Mead • In summary • Cause = social roles

  49. Mead: Mechanisms • People put themselves in the shoes of the other and imagine what the other’s expectations are • People generalize those expectations • People internalize those expectations

  50. Mead • Outcome • Internalized attitudes