Bamford - Chapter 08 | eBooks | Non-Fiction

Bamford - Chapter 08

Bamford - Chapter 08 BamfordKinship_08 Instant Download Price
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Buy and Download Description Human beings are supremely knowledgeable creatures. That much is obvious. It is not so obvious, however, how they come to know what they do. By all accounts, without such knowledge they would be helpless. Nonhuman animals seem to know instinctively what to do in any circumstances they would normally encounter. But human beings are apparently born with a deficit, a gap – as Clifford Geertz once put it – 'between what our body tells us and what we have to know in order to function' (1973: 50). This gap, Geertz goes on to tell us, is filled by culture, a corpus of information containing all the essential guidelines for a certain way to live and distinguished by the fact that it is passed on from one generation to the next by some mechanism other than genetic replication. It is, in other words, acquired rather than innate. This is not to say that by comparison with its human cousins, the nonhuman animal learns nothing. Every organism lives and grows in an environment, and at any stage of development, environmental impacts can prompt it to follow one course rather than another. The animal's learning could be described as the developmental outcome of a series of responses to such prompts. It is in this sense – to adopt Peter Medawar's terms (1960: 90–94) – an 'elective' process. The acquisition of culture, by contrast, is 'instructive'. That is to say, it is a matter not of the environmental steering of development along one of a number of possible routes, but of the installation of those programmes without which normal development could not take place at all (Ingold 1986: 357–59). Human beings are supremely knowledgeable creatures. That much is obvious. It is not so obvious, however, how they come to know what they do. By all accounts, without such knowledge they would be helpless. Nonhuman animals seem to know instin
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