The Patterning Instinct

planted: 18/12/2021last tended: 24/12/2021
Jeremy Lent

In this respect, the book shares with the postmodern critique of Western civilization, recognizing those capitalized universal abstractions such as Reason, Progress, and Truth to be culture-specific constructions. In fact, a significant portion of the book is devoted to tracing how these patterns of thought first arose and then infused themselves so deeply into the Western mind-set as to become virtually invisible to those who use them.

It's a perpetual, bidirectional feedback loop. From this perspective, the currently fashionable reductionist view of history is half right: it captures a one-way causative flow from environment to cognition but misses the reciprocal causative flow in the other direction

However, a more convincing explanation—and one that forms a foundation of this book—is that each society shapes the cognitive structure of individuals growing up in its culture through imprinting its own pattern of meaning on each infant's developing mind.

Or, in its simplest terms: language has a patterning effect on cognition

^ Reminds me how in Free, Fair and Alive they talk about the need for an 'OntoShift'.

In this book, I've taken the view that human culture itself can be viewed as a certain type of complex system. Thinking about culture in this way makes it easier to understand some of the critical transitions that have taken place in history.

1. Log

1.1. [2021-12-24 Fri]

Only on the preface… but think I'll like it. Don't know if I completely agree (yet) with the idea of 'cognitive history' - it sounds a bit in tension with Historical materialism. But maybe it might be a synthesis of the thesis of history being shaped by ideas and the antithesis of historical materialism. I think it does allow for the luck of geography and material conditions of a society to shape the route of its progress - but also suggests that certain ways of thinking also have a large impact on this too.

2. Elsewhere

2.3. Mentions

Recent changes. Source. Peer Production License.