Publication 6372

Laughlin C. D. & Throop C. J. (2006) Cultural neurophenomenology: Integrating experience, culture and reality through Fisher information. Culture & Psychology 12(3): 305–337.
Anthropologists and psychologists have long debated the relative importance of nature and nurture in human affairs. By and large anthropologists have opted for what might be called the ‘naïve culturological position’ that when our species developed culture, it left its biological roots behind. Psychologists, on the other hand, until relatively recently, have largely ignored the impact of culture upon the processes and functioning of the human mind. In their attempt to approximate the rigors of scientific methods practiced in the so-called ‘hard’ sciences, it is often a naïve scientism that drives theorizing and research in the discipline. The single most decisive impediment to the emergence of a mature anthropology and psychology is the mind–body schism. We will argue that bridging the mind–body schism requires a language by means of which we can refer to individual experience, culture and extramental reality simultaneously. Our approach is that of a cultural neurophenomenology that allows us to speak about the social and biological factors that produce, potentiate and limit human experience. We show that one key concept in unifying the languages of these different domains is ‘information’. We trace the history of the concept of information, and demonstrate that from the perspective of Fisher information one may more easily conceive of the interactions among experience, culture and reality in commensurable terms. Fisher information also allows us to model the relationship between knowledge and reality, and to suggest some of the mechanisms by which the individual psyche and a society’s culture remain ‘trued-up’ relative to the reality of the world and the individual’s own being.
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