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[xmca] Re: Inappropriate affect

As someone who has been brought up in the tradition of
cultural psychology, I would be much more comfortable with the
whole affective/cognitive distinction if someone were to give
some evidence of the cross cultural universality of this
distinction. Is this a distinction that is as salient
everywhere else as it is here? Do the categories take the same
form elsewhere as here? 

If not, then can we just say that it is pragmatically
consequential in as much as people use this distinction in
their everyday lives as they engage other social actors in
various forms of social action? It seems to me to be a feature
of our (and probably many others') ethnopsychology that has
everything to do with stance-marking devices of English (and
other closely related languages) that center on the
distinction between knowing and feeling. Anyone out there
working on languages with different salient stance-marking
categories (e.g., that obligatorily mark for different types
of knowing - Turkish and the family of Mayan languages are two
that come to mind, but there are certainly others).

My hunch (is this a thought or a feeling?) is that as a social
scientific analytic (in the most theoretically broad sense),
cognition and affect are not so distinct as we might think/feel.

I suppose another way for those arguing for the
affective/cognitive distinction would be to provide evidence
that these two things are both spatially and temporally
separated in brain function. Spatially seems easy enough,
there are certainly hypothalamic regions that would be more
relevant for affect and the cerebral cortex seems more
relevant for cognition (although I'm sure there are plenty of
connections between these regions that make their spatial
separation less clean). The more important question is: do you
have a temporal separation such that one can cognize without
affect? i.e., such that only one brain region is functioning
while the other is completely "quiet"? Feels to me an unlikely
possibility. But that's just a feeling...

Just wanted to toss my thoughts/feelings into the mix.


-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu
On Behalf Of ERIC.RAMBERG@spps.org
Sent: Tuesday, December 08, 2009 6:33 AM
To: ablunden@mira.net; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [xmca] Inappropriate affect

Inappropriate affect is a clinical psychiatric term that
refers to an
individual's response to emotion; examples are laughing at
hearing about
the death of a loved one, crying that someone ate the last
piece of pie,
outrageous anger that a favorite TV show has been postponed
because of a
weather report.  Culture does NOT mediate these individual
People exhibit internal drives.  What is discussed when
exploring the
meaning of emotions is aesthetics and not the actual emotions.
not happy, they are content.  Humans experience true joy that
is not
mediated by culture and it is what separates us from the animals.
Archeological evidence is revealing that Homo Sapiens and
existed at the same time; one succeeded due to a development of a
I dare say that culture developed as a result of shared emotional
experiences found beyond what other animals experience. 
Humans are
extremely vulnerable and within this vulnerability they have
found their
greatest strength!
Greg Thompson
Ph.D. Candidate
The Department of Comparative Human Development
The University of Chicago
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