Mental diversity and unity
A pragmatic approach to the debate
Geoffrey Lloyd, in his book Cognitive Variations (2007), addresses the puzzle of cognitive diversity vs. cognitive unity of our mental life by analyzing a number of debates related to it. Accounting for the fact that human mental life across cultures both shares many of its fundamental features and differs in many others, no less fundamental ones, apparently cannot but engender a dilemma, as long as only reductionist solutions are considered, for neither radical diversity is reducible to unity nor vice versa. The situation is further complicated by the fact that ‘division of labor’ solutions involving a sort of schizophrenic fragmentation of the mind, are also unlikely, since even the most diverse mental tasks complement each other in what appears to be a seamless unity. In this review article, I undertake to highlight what I take to be the cornerstone of Lloyd’s account, namely an approach that rejects the dichotomy ‘diversity vs. unity’ and thus creates an alternative, ‘pragmatic’ path for their essential cooperation-through- opposition. This proposal is supported by an analysis of Lloyd’s treatment of several of the debates discussed in the book’s chapters, as well as by references to my own work in pragmatics and controversies.
Keywords: cognitive diversity, controversy, cognitive unity, cooperation-through-opposition, mind, debate, pragmatic approach
Published online: 18 August 2009
Cited by 4 other publications
Zadunaisky Ehrlich, Sara
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