Dan Sperber (1996) Author’s presentation of Explaining Culture

The six essays collected in Explaining Culture: A Naturalistic Approach (Blackwell, 1996) are all arguments for, and contributions to an epidemiology of representations.

Dan Sperber & Deirdre Wilson (1996) Fodor’s Frame Problem and Relevance Theory: reply to Chiappe & Kukla. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 19(3) 530-532.

“…Since it cannot have foreknowledge of relevance, how can the mind have, at least, non-arbitrary expectations of relevance?…” [PDF version]

Dan Sperber (1996/1975) Why are perfect animals, hybrids, and monsters food for symbolic thought? Method & Theory in the Study of Religion 8(2), 143-169.

Abstract. Work on animal symbolism, in particular that of Mary Douglas, suggests that the symbolic value of some animals is grounded in taxonomic anomaly. Yet the work of ethno-zoologists tends to show that folk-taxonomies are consistent and devoid of true anomalies. This raises a first problem. Moreover, not only anomalous animals, but also exemplary animals often take on a symbolic value, thus raising a second problem. A solution to both problems is suggested, based on an examination of the cognitive organization of folk-taxonomies, and with illustrations drawn from Ethiopian, Biblical, and Western culture. (Revised in 1980, English version of “Pourquoi les animaux parfaits, les hybrides et les monstres sont-ils bons à penser symboliquement?”L’Homme, XV (2) (1975) 5-24). [PDF version])