Becoming Social: Culture, Cognition and Early Development

New School for Social Research: Anthropology

Liberal Arts

Graduate Course

Degree Students (with Restrictions)

Becoming Social

Fall 2021

Taught By: Lawrence Hirschfeld

Section: A

CRN: 11221

Credits: 3

Humans inhabit worlds held together by a constant flow of cultural information, i.e., information that is more generally relevant, repeatedly transmitted, and shared by many or even most members of the group. On one well-known and sensible proposal, culture consists of whatever one has to know or believe in order to operate in a manner acceptable to members one’s group and to enact the social roles that members expect each other to adopt. Being cultural, then, entails acquiring certain mental states and the capacities they afford. This seminar starts from the premise that there is nothing self-evident about becoming cultural. It is thus both curious and disappointing that the dominant account of knowledge acquisition in anthropology and other disciplines concerned with cultural environments has been aptly described as a fax-theory of learning. The goal of this seminar is to explore recent developmental research with an eye toward a more nuanced understanding of how we become such adept cultural actors—and by extension, how we become social. Our focus is on infancy and early childhood. Among the questions we will grapple with are: Is cultural knowledge a distinct domain or kind of knowledge? Many animals inhabit complex social worlds that are not cultural; in what ways is human social life cultural and in what was is it not? E.g., is the development of social knowledge and the interactions it affords governed by the same mechanisms as the development of knowledge about the mental states of individuals and the actions this affords? What role do imitation, analogical thinking, and other relational competencies play in the acquisition of cultural competence? What role does tuition play in acquiring cultural competence? Has evolution prepared humans to be cultural? Can we identify specific evolved adaptations that contribute to, shape, and constrain our cultural worlds and in what ways might these shape and constrain development? This course satisfies requirements in Perspectives for Anthropology students.

College: New School for Social Research (GF)

Department: Anthropology (GANT)

Campus: New York City (GV)

Course Format: Seminar (R)

Max Enrollment: 9

Add/Drop Deadline: September 13, 2021 (Monday)

Online Withdrawal Deadline: November 21, 2021 (Sunday)

Seats Available: Yes

Status: Closed*

* Status information is updated every five minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 11:45am 1/24/2022 EST

Meeting Info:

Days: Wednesday

Times: 4:00pm - 5:50pm

Building: 6 East 16th Street

Room: 1008

Date Range: 9/1/2021 - 12/8/2021