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Reviewer Meets Reviewed - Cognitive Variations
Thursday 22 March 2012
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REVIEWER MEETS REVIEWED

SEMINAR SERIES AT THE BRITISH MUSEUM'S CENTRE FOR ANTHROPOLOGY

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

Thursday 22nd March 2012 at 10.00 am (tea & coffee served from 9.30am)

Centre for Anthropology, British Museum

THIS IS A FREE EVENT

The British Museum’s Centre for Anthropology, in collaboration with the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI), is delighted to present a discussion between Professor Sir Geoffrey Lloyd author of ‘Cognitive Variations: Reflections on the Unity and Diversity of the Human Mind' and Professor Mark Geller who reviewed the work for the JRAI.

The book 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, for instance. 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 of psychic diversity raise the spectres of arbitrary relativism, the incommensurability of belief systems and their mutual unintelligibility.

The author surveys a fascinating range of subjects, examining where different types of scientific, philosophical, anthropological and historical arguments can take us. He discusses colour perception, spatial cognition, animal and plant taxonomy, the emotions, ideas of health and well-being, concepts of the self, agency and causation, varying perceptions of the distinction between nature and culture, and reasoning itself. He uses recent work 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.

Bookings/enquiries: Ted Goodliffe ( TGoodliffe@britishmuseum.org)