Can Schemas Motivate?

In an influential paper entitled “Schemas and Motivation,” the cognitive anthropologist Roy D’Andrade once remarked on the curious lack of relation (with reference to anthropological theory) …between culture and action. Of course, one can say ‘people do what they do because their culture makes them do it.’ The problem with this formulation is that …

Culture and Action, or Why Action Theory is not Optional

The main reason social scientists study culture is because of the (sometimes implicit) hypothesis that culture “affects” or “causes” action (Swidler 2001a, 2001b; Vaisey 2009). If culture was a causally inert cloud of stuff floating around doing nothing, it would not be worth anyone’s attention. That is, cultural theory and …

Habit versus Skill

Habit versus Skill Ascriptions Habit and skill tend to be run together in social theory and the philosophy of action (Dalton, 2004). However, there are good conceptual and empirical reasons to keep them distinct (Douskos, 2017b). Notably, the ascription of skill and habits entail different things about action, and only …

Habit as Prediction

In a previous post, Mike Strand points to the significant rise of the “predictive turn” in the sciences of action and cognition under the banner of “predictive processing” (Clark, 2015; Wiese & Metzinger, 2017). This turn is consequential, according to Mike, because it takes prediction and turns it from something …

Did John Dewey Put Prediction into Action?

Prediction does not appear, at first, to be something that a sociologist, or really any analyst of anything, can safely ascribe to those (or that) which they are studying without running afoul of about a thousand different stringent rules that define how probability can be used for the purposes of …

Varieties of Implicitness in Cultural-Cognitive Kinds

In a previous post, I addressed some issues in applying the property of “implicitness” to cultural kinds. There I made two points; first, unlike other ontological properties considered (e.g., concerning location or constitution), implicitness is a relational property. That is, when we say a cultural kind is implicit, we presume that there is …

When Viruses Spread Social Contagion: What Covid-19 Teaches Us About Social Life

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought much grief and anxiety to the world. As deaths from the coronavirus mount and the invisible foe brings wealthy, technologically advanced societies to their knees, the world has learned not to underestimate the shocks viruses can deliver. The present outbreak’s implications are far-reaching to say the least—the …

An Argument for False Consciousness

Philosophers generally discuss belief-formation in one of two ways: internalist and externalist. Both arguments are concerned with the justification of the beliefs that a given agent purports to have. Internalists and externalists dispute the kinds of justification that can be given to a belief, in order to lend or detract …

Habitus and Learning to Learn: Part III

Language, Habitus, and Cultural Cognition The recasting of habitus as a neuro-cognitive structure conducive to learning opens up promising avenues otherwise foreclosed in traditional cultural theory (see here and here for previous discussion). However, it also opens up some analytical difficulties, especially when it comes to the role of language …

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