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Chapter 23 - Anthropology of consciousness

from Part I - The cognitive science of consciousness

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

Philip David Zelazo
Affiliation:
University of Toronto
Morris Moscovitch
Affiliation:
University of Toronto
Evan Thompson
Affiliation:
University of York
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Summary

This chapter discusses the history of anthropological studies of consciousness since the mid-19th century. It begins with the vision of anthropology of consciousness apparent in the writings of some of the discipline's forefathers. The chapter examines the history of thought among American anthropologists who considered consciousness-related issues to be important. It shows how the early practical and theoretical ruminations centered on questions of the evolution of human consciousness, the putative differences between primitive versus civilized mentalities, and the role of the group in establishing collective states of consciousness. The chapter explains how mid- to late-20th century developments have culminated in contemporary consciousness-related approaches, including cognitive anthropology, cultural psychology, phenomenological anthropology, the anthropology of the senses, and cultural neurophenomenology. It concludes by listing some of the major findings pertaining to consciousness provided by anthropological research and understanding to date.
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2007

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