Pascal Boyer
Causal understandings in cultural representations:
Cognitive constraints on inferences from cultural input

Causal cognition: A multidisciplinary debate
Symposia of the Fyssen Foundation
Edited by Dan Sperber, David Premack, Ann James Premack
New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1995 (615-649)

(from the chapter)

Boyer focuses on a domain which has always been central to anthropological discussions of causation and causal concepts, that of religious 'magical' assumptions; religious concepts and assumptions seem to display obvious cross-cultural variation, perhaps in a more salient way than other types of cultural representations... anthropological and psychological data are used to provide an answer to a series of 5 questions, with each answer being the starting point for the next; are concepts of causation culturally specific; what is the structure of early causal understandings; what is the structure of the causal understandings implied by religious categories; what is the role of early intuitive principles in the treatment of the cultural input; what does this tell us about causal understandings in culture; (this chapter includes a discussion among F. Keil, A. Leslie, G. Lloyd, L. Talmy and P. Boyer).


Maintained by Francis F. Steen, Communication Studies, University of California Los Angeles