Category Archives: 09 – Ethnoscience & Cognitive

Cognitive Anthropology, Ethnoscience and Set and Setting

Read the following articles with these questions in mind.

  • Is “thinking like a native” an achievable goal? Would this way of seeing a culture truly create more accurate ethnographic descriptions?
  • Would the “psychic unity of mankind” be correctly hypothesized if cognitive anthropology refuses the belief of a unitary theory of culture?

Peyote: The Importance of Cultural Set and Setting for a Powerful Plant Hallucinogen

Ethnoscience and Cognitive Anthropology

Powerpoint on the subject

Mercedes & Arturo

1. Is “thinking like a native” an achievable goal? Would this way of seeing a culture truly create more accurate ethnographic descriptions?

2.  Is it valid to claim that data collection by ethnoscientists is “more scientific?”

3. Conklin’s research with the Hanunoo set out to prove that color vocabularies influence color classification and they way people define color, contrary to the implication of the Sapir Whorf hypothesis which implies that color vocabularies determine color perception. To what extent was he able to prove his theory?

4. “Color terms are a part of the vocabulary of particular languages and only the intracultural analysis of such lexical sets and their correlates can provide the key to their  understanding and range of applicability. The study of isolated and assumed translations in other languages can only lead to confusion.” What does Conklin mean by this?

5. Would the “psychic unity of mankind” be correctly hypothesized if cognitive anthropology refuses the belief of a unitary theory of culture?

6. Is studying language and its connection to thought processes useful in correctly understanding a culture? Can it be done without it?

Ethnoscience and Cognitive Anthropology

Harold Conklin

Harold C. Conklin used Sapir and Whorf Hypothesis that has to do with the relationship of language and thought. And together they came up with this idea that language not just a tool for communication but rather it a way they communicate base on the their perception of the world. So back to Conklin studies in Hanunoo, and use of color, is his way of proving weather Sapir and Whorf Hypothesis is true or not. In the study, they interviewed students about colors and relate back the how those color associate with thing that exist in their daily life or what it is they use to associate them with. Conklin came up with two levels of color distinctions that the people used in Hanunoo. Level one has to do with opposition between light and dark, then there was the opposition between dryness(desiccation) and wetness(freshness) that exist among the living component of the living environment. Then he had a third opposition that has to do with “colorless substance”, often associate with manufacture goods. Level II require more specification then level I. Level II will further explain the detail of level one color. Then there are different vocabulary or usage in the language base on who using it, men language can and will differ from women in Hanunoo.

In result Conklin determine that “what appear to be colot ‘confusion’ at first may result from an inadequate knowledge of the internal structure of color system and from a failure to distinguish sharply between sensory and from a failure to distinguish sharply between sensory reception on the one hand perceptual categorization on the other.” (Conklin 1926)

Stephen A. Tyler (can you guess which one?)

Previous theoretical orientation of Anthropology can be very general that are divided into two different type; One concerns with changes and development and those concerned with static description. Which they mere their experience on “speculative History” that conform base within the caparison system. This would only be a matter of time before a research formulates and defines the group, in particular way, and without the approval of a tribe by his definition of what he has to define them. As a result, many Anthropologists have become more and more particularistic rather than general and universal. Early attempt of ethnography was a way to discover ethnology fieldwork. Cognitive Anthropology is a way of studying base on the discovering how people organize and use their culture. Rather than focusing on the material he or she used, another way they approached it is based on the how an individual organizes the thought of men (human beings). So the question that they asked in doing cognitive approach is “what material phenomena are significant for the people of some culture; and how do they organize these phenomena?” There’re many ways that culture can be organize.

Ethnoscience and Cognitive Anthropology

Cognitive Anthropology has played a major role in many cross-disciplinary efforts.  Why might that be the case?
What role does “Ethnoscience and Cognitive Anthropology” play in today’s world?
-Harold C. Conklin, “Hanunóo Color Categories” (1955)
-Stephen A. Tyler, “Introduction to Cognitive Anthropology” (1969)
– Claudia Strauss. “What makes Tony run: Schemas as motives reconsidered” (1992)