Acts of Meaning by Jerome Bruner

By Jerome Bruner

Jerome Bruner argues that the cognitive revolution, with its present fixation on brain as "information processor;" has led psychology clear of the deeper goal of realizing brain as a writer of meanings. in simple terms by way of breaking out of the constraints imposed by way of a computational version of brain do we take hold of the particular interplay in which brain either constitutes and is constituted through culture.

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Idiosyncratic and unshared beliefs are not of necessity false, let alone morbid. Take an original concept in science. At the moment of its inception it could be confined to one individual and not shared by those of a similar social and cultural background. A concept in science would, however, be directed at a circumscribed area, would be understandable within the accepted and shared discourse of science and, although it might be of great personal significance to its instigator, that significance would be primarily in terms of what it explained about the world in general, not about the internal and intimate world of that individual.

In self-reference, there is not only heightened selfawareness but also a tendency to divine personal meanings in trivial and unrelated events. The world becomes centred on the individual, and the mundane words and actions of others are seen as being directed at oneself. Self-reference normally has a persecutory flavour, and thus the remarks and actions of others are invested with unpleasant and even sinister import. A couple laughing on the other side of a crowded room are laughing at the self-referring person, the overheard snatch of conversation in a bus is about them, the shrug of the shoulders of the barman is a dismissive insult rather than a mere gesture, and so on.

A scientific idea however fundamental is unlikely to explain why the scientist’s neighbours seem unfriendly, why a colleague wears a red tie, or why their food tastes bitter. A run-ofthe-mill persecutory delusion, on the other hand, can usually generate explanations for these and many other mundane events. Even religious revelations, however fervently believed, usually limit their explanatory power to spiritual, ethical and moral issues. There is an understandable reluctance to add behaviour to the constellation of experiences which characterise delusion.

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