Cognitive Variations: Reflections on the Unity and Diversity of the Human Mind

Paperback | January 5, 2009

byGeoffrey Lloyd

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Sir Geoffrey Lloyd presents a cross-disciplinary study of the problems posed by the unity and diversity of the human mind. On the one hand, as humans we all share broadly the same anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and certain psychological capabilities - the capacity to learn a language, forinstance. On the other, different individuals and groups have very different talents, tastes, and beliefs, for instance about how they see themselves, other humans and the world around them. These issues are highly charged, for any denial of psychic unity savours of racism, while many assertions ofpsychic diversity raise the spectres of arbitrary relativism, the incommensurability of beliefs systems and their mutual unintelligibility. Lloyd surveys a fascinating range of subjects, examining where different types of arguments, scientific, philosophical, anthropological and historical can take us. He discusses colour perception, spatial cognition, animal and plant taxonomy, the emotions, ideas of health and well-being, concepts ofthe self, agency and causation, varying perceptions of the distinction between nature and culture, and reasoning itself. To avoid the pitfalls of misleading dichotomies (especially between cross-cultural universalism and cultural relativism) he pays due attention to the multidimensionality of thephenomena to be apprehended and to the diversity of manners, or styles, of apprehending them. The weight to be given to different factors, physical, biological, psychological, cultural, ideological, varies as between different subject-areas and sometimes even within a single area. He uses recentwork in social anthropology, linguistics, cognitive science, neurophysiology, and the history of ideas to redefine the problems and clarify how our evident psychic diversity can be reconciled with our shared humanity.

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Sir Geoffrey Lloyd presents a cross-disciplinary study of the problems posed by the unity and diversity of the human mind. On the one hand, as humans we all share broadly the same anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and certain psychological capabilities - the capacity to learn a language, forinstance. On the other, different individual...

G. E. R. Lloyd is Emeritus Professor of Ancient Philosophy and Science at the University of Cambridge

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:208 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.07 inPublished:January 5, 2009Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199566259

ISBN - 13:9780199566259

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. Colour Perception2. Spatial Cognition3. The Natural Kinds of Animals and Plants4. The Emotions5. Health and Well-being6. The Self, Agency, and Causation7. Nature Versus Culture Reassessed8. ReasonConclusionNotes on EditionsBibliography

Editorial Reviews

`Review from previous edition Geoffrey Lloyd's book is the best recent overall summary of the state of play in the discussion of our social behaviour.'Ian Hacking. London Review of Books