Arts & Humanities Research Council - Innateness

Year two: Culture and the innate mind

The second year of the project (2002-2003) was primarily concerned with the interaction of culture and the innate mind. It addressed such questions as: to what extent are mature cognitive capacities a reflection of particular cultures and to what extent are they a product of innate elements? How do innate elements interact with culture to achieve mature cognitive capacities? How do minds generate and shape cultures? How are cultures processed by minds?

In recent years, cognitive science and the philosophy of mind have been undergoing a sort of glasnost. Much of this new freedom is the result of the integration of biological thinking into philosophy and cognitive science, in part through evolutionary psychology. Philosophers, psychologists, and others have turned their attention to the cognitive bases and evolutionary significance of creativity, art, religion, love, sport, morality, science, and war. This new work has not only turned up many entirely new questions, but it has also shed considerable new light on many old issues. Among other things, it has raised the prospect of new models of development, resulting from detailed case studies of both the universal and the culturally variable aspects of emotions, for example, or of moral thought.

The volume based on year two of the project was published in 2006 by Oxford University Press.