Cosmic Heroes: Peterson’s Pearls (3)

This is the third in a series of posts based upon Jordan Peterson’s book Maps of Meaning, published in 1999 after 17 years of research and writing. It is rich in description and insight with many references and quotations from original sources. Reading it I began to copy passages that struck me as especially lucid and pertinent. Those paragraphs of his text are provided below in italics as excerpts selected to explain five themes emerging in my reflections while pondering his book. Cosmic Dichotomy: Peterson’s Pearls (1) provides an overview explaining why this is important to me and perhaps to others.

[Note: I use the word “cosmic” since each individual’s world is at risk, and as we see in the agitation over climate change, entire social groups can also fear for their collective world.]

Jordan Peterson on Cosmic Heroes(Excerpts from Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief Title is link to pdf)

Before the emergence of empirical methodology, which allowed for methodical separation of subject and object in description, the world-model contained abstracted inferences about the nature of existence, derived primarily from observations of human behavior. This means, in essence, that pre-experimental man observed “morality” in his behavior and inferred (through the process described previously) the existence of a source or rationale for that morality in the structure of the “universe” itself. Of course, this “universe” is the experiential field—affect, imagination and all—and not the “objective” world constructed by the post-empirical mind. This prescientific “model of reality” primarily consisted of narrative representations of behavioral patterns (and of the contexts that surround them), and was concerned primarily with the motivational significance of events and processes. As this model became more abstract—as the semantic system analyzed the information presented in narrative format, but not understood—man generated imaginative hypotheses about the nature of the ideal human behavior, in the archetypal environment.

The phenomena that we would now describe as emotions or motive forces, from the perspective of our modern, comparatively differentiated and acute self-consciousness, do not appear to have been experienced precisely as “internal” in their original form. Rather, they made their appearance as part and parcel of the experience (the event, or sequence of events) that gave rise to them, and adopted initial representational form in imaginative embodiment. The modern idea of the “stimulus” might be regarded as a vestigial remnant of this form of thinking—a form that grants the power of affective and behavioral control to the object (or which cannot distinguish between that which elicits a response, and the response itself). We no longer think “animistically” as adults, except in our weaker or more playful moments, because we attribute motivation and emotion to our own agency, and not (generally) to the stimulus that gives proximal rise to them. We can separate the thing from the implication of the thing, because we are students and beneficiaries of empirical thinking and experimental method. We can remove attribution of motive and affective power from the “object,” and leave it standing in its purely sensory and consensual aspect; can distinguish between what is us and what is world. The pre-experimental mind could not (cannot) do this, at least not consistently; could not reliably discriminate between the object and its effect on behavior. It is that object and effect which, in totality, constitute a god (more accurately, it is a class of objects and their effects that constitute a god).

Transpersonal motive forces do wage war with one another over vast spans of time; are each forced to come to terms with their powerful “opponents” in the intrapsychic hierarchy. The battles between the different “ways of life” (or different philosophies) that eternally characterize human societies can usefully be visualized as combat undertaken by different standards of value (and, therefore, by different hierarchies of motivation). The “forces” involved in such wars do not die, as they are “immortal”: the human beings acting as “pawns of the gods” during such times are not so fortunate.

Everything we know, we know because someone explored something they did not understand—explored something they were afraid of, in awe of. Everything we know, we know because someone generated something valuable in the course of an encounter with the unexpected. . . “Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.” All things that we know no longer demand our attention. To know something is to do it automatically, without thinking, to categorize it at a glance (or less than a glance), or to ignore it entirely.

The nervous system is “designed” to eliminate predictability from consideration, and to focus limited analytical resources where focus would produce useful results. We attend to the places where change is occurring; where something is happening that has not yet been modeled, where something is happening that has not yet had behaviors erected around it—where something is happening that is not yet understood. Consciousness itself might be considered as that organ which specializes in the analysis and classification of unpredictable events. Attention and concentration naturally gravitate to those elements in the experiential field that contain the highest concentration of novelty, or that are the least expected, prior to what might normally be considered higher cognitive processing. The nervous system responds to irregular change and eliminates regularity. There is limited information, positive and negative, in the predictable. The novel occurrence, by contrast, might be considered a window into the “transcendent space” where reward and punishment exist in eternal and unlimited potential.

Empirical (classical) “objects” are either one thing or another. Nature, by contrast— the great unknown—is one thing and its (affective) opposite at the same time, and in the same place. The novel, primeval experience was (and remains) much too complex to be gripped, initially, by rational understanding, as understood in the present day. Mythic imagination, “willing” to sacrifice discriminatory clarity for inclusive phenomenological accuracy, provided the necessary developmental bridge. The earliest embodiments of nature are therefore symbolic combinations of rationally irreconcilable attributes; monsters, essentially feminine, who represent animal and human, creation and destruction, birth and cessation of experience.

In the case of broader society: the “meaning” of an object—that is, the significance of that object for emotional regulation and behavioral output—is determined by the social consequences of behaviors undertaken and inferences drawn in its presence. Thus internal motivational forces vie for predominance under the influence of social control. The valence of erotic advances made by a given woman, for example—which is to say, whether her behavior invokes the “goddess of love” or the “god of fear”—will depend on her current position in a given social hierarchy. If she is single and acting in context, she may be considered desirable; if she is the intoxicated wife of a large and dangerous man, by contrast, she may be placed in the category of “something best run away from quickly.”

The culturally determined meaning of an object—apprehended, originally, as an aspect of the object—is in fact in large part implicit information about the nature of the current dominance hierarchy, which has been partially transformed into an abstract hypothesis about the relative value of things (including the self and others). Who owns what, for example, determines what things signify, and who owns what is dominance-hierarchy dependent. What an object signifies is determined by the value placed upon it, manifested in terms of the (socially determined) system of promises, rewards, threats and punishments associated with exposure to, contact with, and use or misuse of that object. This is in turn determined by the affective significance of the object (its relevance, or lack thereof, to the attainment of a particular goal), in combination with its scarcity or prevalence, and the power (or lack thereof) of those who judge its nature.

The (necessary) meaning-constraint typical of a given culture is a consequence of uniformity of behavior, imposed by that culture, toward objects and situations. The push toward uniformity is a primary characteristic of the “patriarchal” state (as everyone who acts in the same situation-specific manner has been rendered comfortably “predictable”). The state becomes increasingly tyrannical, however, as the pressure for uniformity increases. As the drive toward similarity becomes extreme, everyone becomes the “same” person—that is, imitation of the past becomes total. All behavioral and conceptual variability is thereby forced from the body politic. The state then becomes truly static: paralyzed or deadened, turned to stone, in mythological language. Lack of variability in action and ideation renders society and the individuals who compose it increasingly vulnerable to precipitous “environmental” transformation (that is, to an involuntary influx of “chaotic” changes). It is possible to engender a complete social collapse by constantly resisting incremental change. It is in this manner that the gods become displeased with their creation, man—and his willful stupidity—and wash away the world. The necessity for interchange of information between “known” and “unknown” means that the state risks its own death by requiring an excess of uniformity.

The story is making a point: when you don’t know where you are going, it is counterproductive to assume that you know how to get there. This point is a specific example of a more general moral: Arrogant (“prideful”) individuals presume they know who and what is important. This makes them too haughty to pay attention when they are in trouble—too haughty, in particular, to attend to those things or people whom they habitually hold in contempt. The “drying up of the environment” or the “senescence of the king” is a consequence of a too rigid, too arrogant value hierarchy. (“What or who can reasonably be ignored” is as much a part of such a hierarchy as “who or what must be attended too.”) When trouble arrives, the traditional value hierarchy must be revised. This means that the formerly humble and despised may suddenly hold the secret to continued life—and that those who refuse to admit to their error, like the “elder brothers,” will inevitably encounter trouble.

Anything that protects and fosters (and that is therefore predictable and powerful) necessarily has the capacity to smother and oppress (and may manifest those capacities, unpredictably, in any given situation). No static political utopia is therefore possible—and the kingdom of God remains spiritual, not worldly. Recognition of the essentially ambivalent nature of the predictable—stultifying but secure—means discarding simplistic theories which attribute the existence of human suffering and evil purely to the state, or which presume that the state is all that is good, and that the individual should exist merely as subordinate or slave.

The unknown never disappears; it is a permanent constituent element of experience. The ability to represent the terrible aspects of the unknown allow us to conceptualize what has not yet been encountered, and to practice adopting the proper attitude toward what we do not understand.

Redemptive knowledge itself springs from the generative encounter with the unknown, from exploration of aspects of novel things and novel situations; is part of the potential of things, implicit in them, intrinsic to their nature. This redemptive knowledge is wisdom, knowledge of how to act, generated as a consequence of proper relationship established with the positive aspect of the unknown, the source of all things.

Wisdom may be personified as a spirit who eternally gives, who provides to her adherents unfailing riches. She is to be valued higher than status or material possessions, as the source of all things. With the categorical inexactitude characteristic of metaphoric thought and its attendant richness of connotation, the act of valuing this spirit is also Wisdom. So the matrix itself becomes conflated with—that is, grouped into the same category as—the attitude that makes of that matrix something beneficial. This conflation occurs because primal generative capacity characterizes both the “source of all things” and the exploratory/hopeful attitudes and actions that make of that source determinate things. We would only regard the latter—the “subjective stance”—as something clearly psychological (as something akin to “wisdom” in the modern sense). The former is more likely to be considered “external,” from our perspective—something beyond subjective intervention. But it is the case that without the appropriate attitude (Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” [Matthew 7:7–8].) the unknown is a sterile wasteland.

If the unknown is approached voluntarily (which is to say, “as if” it is beneficial), then its promising aspect is likely to appear more salient. If the unknown makes its appearance despite our desire, then it is likely to appear more purely in its aspect of threat. This means that if we are willing to admit to the existence of those things that we do not understand, those things are more likely to adopt a positive face. Rejection of the unknown, conversely, increases the likelihood that it will wear a terrifying visage when it inevitably manifests itself. It seems to me that this is one of the essential messages of the New Testament, with its express (although difficult-to-interpret) insistence that God should be regarded as all-good.

The beneficial aspect of the unknown is something unavailable to the “unworthy,” something eternal and pure; something that enters into relationship with those who are willing, from age to age; and something that makes friends of God.

The terrible unknown compels representation; likewise, the beneficial unknown. We are driven to represent the fact that possibility resides in every uncertain event, that promise beckons from the depths of every mystery. Transformation, attendant upon the emergence of change, means the death of everything old and decayed—means the death of everything whose continued existence would merely mean additional suffering on the part of those still striving to survive. The terrible unknown, which paralyzes when it appears, is also succour for the suffering, calm for the troubled, peace for the warrior, insight and discovery for the perplexed and curious.

Modern treatment for disorders of anxiety, to take a specific example— “desensitization”—involves exposing an individual, “ritualistically” (that is, under circumstances rendered predictable by authority), to novel or otherwise threatening stimuli (with appropriate reaction modeled by that authority. Such desensitization theoretically induces “habituation”; what is actually happening is that guided exploration, in the course of behavior therapy, produces reclassification and behavioral adjustment [such that the once terrifying thing or once again terrifying thing is turned (back) into something controllable, familiar, and known]. Voluntary exposure additionally teaches the previously anxiety-ridden individual the nontrivial lesson that he or she is capable of facing the “place of fear” and prevailing. The process of guided voluntary exposure appears to produce therapeutic benefits even when the “thing being avoided” is traumatic—when it might appear cruel, from a superficially “empathic” perspective, to insist upon exposure and “processing.”

“Fearless Felix” Baumgartner ascended to the stratosphere and stepped into the void from 24.2 miles above the Earth. His speed during the fall reached Mach 1.24, and the Austrian adventurer nailed the landing. October 14, 2012

Analysis of the much more dramatic, very widespread, but metaphorically equivalent phenomena of the sacrifical ritual—a rite whose very existence compelled one insightful author to argue for the essential insanity of man— provides additional insight into the nature of the ability to transform threat into promise. We have already discussed the fact that the valence of an object switches with context of interpretation. It is knowledge of this idea that allows for comprehension of the meaning of the sacrificial attitude. The beautiful countenance of the beneficial mother is the face the unknown adopts when approached from the proper perspective. Everything unknown is simultaneously horrifying and promising; it is courage and genius (and the grace of God) that determines which aspect dominates.

Primary religious rituals, serving a key adaptive purpose, “predicated” upon knowledge of proper approach mechanisms, evolved to suit the space surrounding the primary deity, embodiment of the unknown. The ubiquitous drama of human sacrifice, (proto)typical of primordial religious practice, enacted the idea that the essence of man was something to be offered up voluntarily to the ravages of nature—something to be juxtaposed into creative encounter with the terrible unknown. The offering, in ritual, was often devoured, in reality or symbolically, as aid to embodiment of the immortal human spirit, as aid to incorporation of the heroic process. Such rituals were abstracted and altered, as they developed—with the nature of the sacrificial entity changing (with constancy of underlying “ideation”).

The mysterious and seemingly irrational “sacrificial” ritual actually dramatizes or acts out two critically important and related ideas: first, that the essence of man—that is, the divine aspect—must constantly be “offered up” to the unknown, must present itself voluntarily to the destructive/creative power that constitutes the Great Mother, incarnation of the unpredictable (as we have seen); and second, that the “thing that is loved best” must be destroyed—that is, sacrificed—in order for the positive aspect of the unknown to manifest itself.

The former idea is “predicated” on the notion that the unknown must be encountered, voluntarily, for new information to be generated, for new behavioral patterns to be constructed; the latter idea is “predicated” on the observation that an improper or outdated or otherwise invalid attachment—such as the attachment to an inappropriate pattern of behavior or belief—turns the world into waste, by interfering with the process of adaptation itself. Rigid, inflexible attachment to “inappropriate things of value”— indicative of dominance by a pathological hierarchy of values (a “dead god”)—is tantamount to denial of the hero. Someone miserable and useless in the midst of plenty— just for the sake of illustration—is unhappy because of his or her attachments to the wrong “things.”

Unhappiness is frequently the consequence of immature or rigid thinking—a consequence of the overvaluation of phenomena that are in fact trivial. The neurotic clings to the things that make her unhappy, while devaluing the processes, opportunities and ideas that would free her, if she adopted them. The sacrifice of the “thing loved best” to “appease the gods” is the embodiment in procedure of the idea that the benevolent aspect of the unknown will return if the present schema of adaptation (the “ruling king”) is sufficiently altered (that is, destroyed and regenerated). An individual stripped of his “identification” with what he previously valued is simultaneously someone facing the unknown—and is, therefore, someone “unconsciously” imitating the hero.

The intimate relationship between clinging to the past, rejection of heroism, and denial of the unknown is most frequently explicated in narrative form (perhaps because the association is so complex that it has not yet been made explicit).

The spirit forever willing to risk personal (more abstractly, intrapsychic) destruction to gain redemptive knowledge might be considered the archetypal representative of the adaptive process as such. The pre-experimental mind considered traumatic union of this “masculine” representative with the destructive and procreative feminine unknown a necessary precedent to continual renewal and rebirth of the individual and community. This is an idea precisely as magnificent as that contained in the Osiris/Horus myth; an idea which adds additional depth to the brilliant “moral hypotheses” contained in that myth. The exploratory hero, divine son of the known and unknown, courageously faces the unknown, unites with it creatively—abandoning all pretence of pre-existent “absolute knowledge”—garners new information, returns to the community, and revitalizes his tradition.

The fundamental act of creativity in the human realm, in the concrete case, is the construction of a pattern of behavior which produces emotionally desirable results in a situation that previously reeked of unpredictability, danger and promise. Creative acts, despite their unique particulars, have an eternally identifiable structure, because they always takes place under the same conditions: what is known is “extracted,” eternally, from the unknown. In consequence, it is perpetually possible to derive and re-derive the central features of the metapattern of behavior which always and necessarily means human advancement.

During exploration, behavior and representational schema are modified in an experimental fashion, in the hopes of bringing about by ingenious means whatever outcome is currently envisioned. Such exploration also produces alteration of the sensory world—since that world changes with shift in motor output and physical locale. Exploration produces transformation in assumption guiding behavior, and in expectation of behavioral outcome: produces learning in knowing how and knowing what mode. Most generally, new learning means the application of a new means to the same end, which means that the pattern of presumptions underlying the internal model of the present and the desired future remain essentially intact. This form of readaptation might be described as normal creativity, and constitutes the bulk of human thought. However, on rare occasions, ongoing activity (specifically goal-directed or exploratory) produces more profound and unsettling mismatch. This is more stressful (and more promising), and necessitates more radical update of modeling—necessitates exploration-guided reprogramming of fundamental behavioral assumption and associated episodic or semantic representation. Such reprogramming also constitutes creativity, but of the revolutionary type, generally associated with genius. Exploration is therefore creation and re-creation of the world.

Every unmapped territory—that is, every place where what to do has not been specified—also constitutes the battleground for ancestral kings. The learned patterns of action and interpretation that vie for application when a new situation arises can be usefully regarded, metaphorically, as the current embodiments of adaptive strategies formulated as a consequence of past exploratory behavior—as adaptive strategies invented and constructed by the heroes of the past, “unconsciously” mimicked and duplicated by those currently alive.

Adaptation to new territory—that is, to the unexpected—therefore also means successful mediation of archaic or habitual strategies competing, in the new situation, for dominance over behavioral output.

We act appropriately before we understand how we act—just as children learn to behave before they can describe the reasons for their behavior. It is only through the observation of our actions, accumulated and distilled over centuries, that we come to understand our own motivations, and the patterns of behavior that characterize our cultures (and these are changing as we model them). Active adaptation precedes abstracted comprehension of the basis for such adaptation. This is necessarily the case, because we are more complex than we can understand, as is the world to which we must adjust ourselves.

First we act. Afterward, we envision the pattern that constitutes our actions. Then we use that pattern to guide our actions. It is establishment of conscious (declarative) connection between behavior and consequences of that behavior (which means establishment of a new feedback process) that enables us to abstractly posit a desired future, to act in such a way as to bring that future about, and to judge the relevance of emergent phenomena themselves on the basis of their apparent relevance to that future.

The myth of the hero has come to represent the essential nature of human possibility, as manifested in adaptive behavior, as a consequence of observation and rerepresentation of such behavior, conducted cumulatively over the course of thousands of years. The hero myth provides the structure that governs, but does not determine, the general course of history; expresses one fundamental preconception in a thousand different ways. This idea (analogous in structure to the modern hypothesis, although not explicitly formulated, nor rationally constructed in the same manner) renders individual creativity socially acceptable and provides the precondition for change. The most fundamental presumption of the myth of the hero is that the nature of human experience can be (should be) improved by voluntary alteration in individual human attitude and action. This statement—the historical hypothesis—is an expression of faith in human possibility itself and constitutes the truly revolutionary idea of historical man.

All specific adaptive behaviors (which are acts that restrict the destructive or enhance the beneficial potential of the unknown) follow a general pattern. This “pattern”—which at least produces the results intended (and therefore desired)—inevitably attracts social interest. “Interesting” or “admirable” behaviors engender imitation and description. Such imitation and description might first be of an interesting or admirable behavior, but is later of the class of interesting and admirable behaviors. The class is then imitated as a general guide to specific actions; is redescribed, redistilled and imitated once again. The image of the hero, step by step, becomes ever clearer, and ever more broadly applicable. The pattern of behavior characteristic of the hero—that is, voluntary advance in the face of the dangerous and promising unknown, generation of something of value as a consequence and, simultaneously, dissolution and reconstruction of current knowledge, of current morality—comes to form the kernel for the good story, cross-culturally. That story—which is what to do, when you no longer know what to do—defines the central pattern of behavior embedded in all genuinely religious systems (furthermore, provides the basis for the “respect due the individual” undergirding our conception of natural rights).

The hero’s quest or journey has been represented in mythology and ritual in numerous ways, but the manifold representations appear in accordance with the myth of the way, as previously described: a harmonious community or way of life, predictable and stable in structure and function, is unexpectedly threatened by the emergence of (previously harnessed) unknown and dangerous forces. An individual of humble and princely origins rises, by free choice, to counter this threat. This individual is exposed to great personal trials and risks or experiences physical and psychological dissolution. Nonetheless, he overcomes the threat, is magically restored (frequently improved) and receives a great reward, in consequence. He returns to his community with the reward, and (re)establishes social order (sometimes after a crisis engendered by his return).

We use stories to regulate our emotions and govern our behavior. They provide the present we inhabit with a determinate point of reference—the desired future. The optimal “desired future” is not a state, however, but a process: the (intrinsically compelling) process of mediating between order and chaos; the process of the incarnation of Logos—the Word— which is the world-creating principle. Identification with this process, rather than with any of its determinate outcomes (that is, with any “idols” or fixed frames of reference or ideologies) ensures that emotion will stay optimally regulated and action remain possible no matter how the environment shifts, and no matter when. In consequence of such identification, respect for belief comes to take second place to respect for the process by which belief is generated.

The “stories” by which individuals live (which comprise their schemas of interpretation, which guide their actions, which regulate their emotions) are therefore emergent structures shaped by the necessity of organizing competing internal biological demands, over variable spans of time, in the presence of others, faced with the same fate. This similarity of demand (constrained by physiological structure) and context (constrained by social reality) produces similarity of response. It is this similarity of response, in turn, that is at the base of the emergent “shared moral viewpoint” that accounts for cross-cultural similarity in myth. This means, by the way, that such “shared viewpoints” refer to something real, at least insofar as emergent properties are granted reality (and most of the things that we regard without question as real are precisely such emergent properties).

The reactions of a hypothetical firstborn child to his or her newborn sibling may serve as concrete illustration of the interactions between the individual, the interpersonal and the social. The elder sibling may be drawn positively to the newborn by natural affiliative tendencies and curiosity. At the same time, however, the new arrival may be receiving a substantial amount of parental attention, sometimes in preference to the older child.

How is the child to resolve his conflicts? He must build himself a personality to deal with his new sibling (must become a proper big brother). This means that he might subordinate his aggression to the fear, guilt and shame produced by parental adjudication on behalf of the baby. This will mean that he will at least “act like a human being” around the baby, in the direct presence of his parents. He might also learn to act as if the aggressive reaction motivated by his shift in status is less desirable, in total, than the affiliative response. His as if stance may easily be bolstered by intelligent shift in interpretation: he may reasonably gain from his younger sibling some of the attention he is no longer paid by parents—if he is diligent and genuine in his attempts to be friendly. He might also develop some more independent interests, suitable to his new position as relatively mature family member.

 

Although the “battle for predominance” that characterizes exchange of morally relevant information can easily be imagined as a war (and is often fought out in the guise of genuine war), it is more frequently the case that it manifests itself as a struggle between “beliefs.” In the latter case, it loss of faith, rather than life, that determines the outcome of the battle. Human beings can substitute loss of faith for death partly because they are capable of abstractly constructing their “territories” (making beliefs out of them) and of abstractly abandoning those territories once they are no longer tenable. Animals, less capable of abstraction, are also able to lose face, rather than life, although they “act out” this loss, in behavioral routines, rather than in verbal or imagistic battles (rather than through argument). It is the capacity to “symbolically capitulate” and to “symbolically destroy” that in large part underlies the ability of individual animals to organize themselves into social groups (which require a hierarchical organization) and to maintain and update those groups once established. Much the same can be said for human beings (who also engage in abstract war, at the procedural level, as well as in real war and argumentation).

The capacity to maintain territorial position when challenged is therefore indicative of the degree to which intrapsychic state is integrated with regard to current motivation (which means, indicative of how “convinced” a given animal is that it can [should] hold its ground). This integration constitutes power—charisma, in the human realm—made most evident in behavioral display. The certainty with which a position is held (whether it is a territorial position, dominance hierarchy niche, or abstract notion)— insofar as this can be inferred from observable behavior, such as absence of fear— constitutes a valid indication of the potential integrative potency of that position. . . Hence the power of the martyr, and the unwillingness of even modern totalitarians to allow their enemies to make public sacrifices of themselves.

Over the course of centuries, the actions of ancestral heroes, imitated directly and then represented in myth, become transformed, simplified, streamlined and quickened— reduced as it were ever more precisely to their “Platonic” forms. Culture is therefore the sum total of surviving historically determined hierarchically arranged behaviors and second- and third-order abstract representations, and more: it is the integration of these, in the course of endless social and intrapsychic conflict, into a single pattern of behavior—a single system of morality, simultaneously governing personal conduct, interpersonal interaction and imagistic/semantic description of such.

This pattern is the “corporeal ideal” of the culture, its mode of transforming the unbearable present into the desired future, its guiding force, its central personality. This personality, expressed in behavior, is first embodied in the king or emperor, socially (where it forms the basis for “sovereignty”). Abstractly represented—imitated, played, ritualized, and storied—it becomes something ever more psychological. This embodied and represented “cultural character” is transmitted through the generations, transmuting in form, but not in essence—transmitted by direct instruction, through imitation, and as a consequence of the human ability to incorporate personality features temporarily disembodied in narrative.

via Science Matters

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February 23, 2019 at 09:15AM

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