Towards a cognitive morphology of the folktale

Propp and other formalists had many things figured out quite right. Then the structuralists came and elevated emergent properties to the level of meaning creation. This post is an analogy in the sense that it compares the idea of the 'morphology of the folktale' but takes the source domain from cognitive morphology rather than traditional semi-structuralist morphology.

Creation of meaning and music analogies

Now, here's an analogy that occured to me as I was pondering the indeterminacy of the meaning of some technical term in social science (I think it was metaphor). But it occurred to me that creating meaning (in the Brunerian sense) is very much like playing certain instruments (such as slide guitar). With slide guitar, a note is played by approaching the position on the fretboard. However, unlike playing a normal tone, i.e. pressing a finger on a certain position, the note is held by constant motion of the slide over the fret.

New category: Feminism

I realized that I needed another category dealing with issues related to the position of women in society and cognition. I decided to call it feminism in protest against the frequent dilution of the concept by labeling it 'gender studies' or 'women's lib'. Now, I very much agree that to understand the way our brains and our society conceptualize and treat women it is important to study men. If only to avoid making assumptions about what is normal.

Complexities of representation of women in traditional narrative

Christmas season's TV brings a lot of classic stories back to people's narrative environment. Many of these contain complex and multilayered representations of humanity's quest for self-understanding. These narratives play other roles, as well, connected to the psychological well-being of individuals. They are broadcast in moments of communal and familial rituals designed to promote group cohesion and they play a performative role, as well.

Parents' role in education - framing in practice

BBC - Radio 4 - Woman's Hour -Phone-in: parents and schools
A recent survey from the Department of Education shows that parents are increasingly unhappy with their local schools. Satisfaction levels have fallen by 10% during the past year and more than half of parents saw no change in the quality of schooling or thought it had got worse.

Individuality and culturality of psychotherapeutic needs

BBC - Radio 4 - All in the Mind
It's just under a year since the Tsunami devastated coastal communities around the Indian Ocean . Raj reports from his recent visit to the Tamil Nadu region of India with the charity Action Aid, where he met some of the people affected, and observed the work that's being done on the emotional rebuilding of their lives.

Determinism and evidentiary value of belief based on personal experience

BBC - Five Live - Mark Kermode film reviews included this and last week an interesting exchange. First, the reviewer claimed that watching the film The March of the Penguin makes it possible to assume some level of intelligent design (while criticising some American views stating essentially the same thing). Predictably, in the subsequent program, a discussion on this topic ensued which bore some interesting gems.

Expertise and suitability for policy responsibilities

Another great interview on This one dealing with the reliability of expert predictions (in the media and in general).

PHILIP TETLOCK: When an expert has very, very strong opinions on an issue, when the expert places a high value on simplicity and has little patience with contradictions or ambiguity, and when the expert is making longer-term predictions, that expert's likely to go off the cliff.

New home

My Week in Thought has found a new home right here.

CADAAD - Conference on Discourse Analysis

I am coorganizing a conference Critical Approaches to Discourse Analysis Across Disciplines (CADAAD) to be held at the University of East Anglia on June 29-30, 2006. The first call for papers goes out today. More on

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