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Are we all natural dualists? A cognitive developmental approach. The Malinowski Memorial Lecture, 2000

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The article takes to task the well-established anthropological claim that non- western peoples are free from the traps of dualistic thinking. Although Vezo informants in Madagascar produce statements that could be used to support such a claim, experimental procedures that target their inferential reasoning reveal that they systematically differentiate between mind and body, between the biological processes that determine the organism and the social processes that shape personhood. This suggests that there is a significant discrepancy between people’s explicit linguistic statements and their implicit theoretical knowledge. Moreover, developmental data show that such implicit theoretical presuppositions are essential to the production and transmission of cultural knowledge. Thus, Vezo children, who do not as yet differentiate between the biological mechanism of birth and the social mechanism of nurture, are still unable to grasp a salient aspect of Vezo culture, namely the causally integrated set of ideas that guide the way adults classify the social world. These findings have significant theoretical and methodological implications for the constitution of anthropological knowledge.

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en

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application/pdf

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/471/1/ASTUTI_are_we_all_natural_dualists.pdf

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