Cognitive anthropology

Stephen C. Levinson
Table of contents

All the various branches of social and cultural anthropology are as much concerned with variation in ideas as variations in cultural practices. It is a truism of the social sciences that one cannot study human behavior without studying the ideas and motivations that guide and drive it. Nevertheless, in all the social sciences barring linguistics (if such it is), the idea that systems of concepts should be explored through specialized technical methods, and that such systems of different cultural origin might be systematically compared in the search for underlying principles of organization, has never met with much welcome. It was to redress the balance that various movements to establish anthropological studies of cognition have been launched.

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