Generalizations, Cultural Essentialism, and Metaphorical Gulfs

Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 17 (4):479-497 (2018)
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An ongoing debate in comparative research is about whether we should see cultural diversities as manifestations of essential differences or as superficial variations on a universal blueprint. Edward Slingerland has pointed to cognitive science and the use of embodied metaphors to emphasize the universality of concept formation and cognition across cultures. He suggests that this should quiet the “cultural essentialists” who take fundamental differences in Eastern and Western thinking as their starting points. Michael Puett has also leveled a critique of cultural essentialism in support of a presuppositionless approach, and Slingerland’s conclusions seem to offer him support. However, I will argue that even if all modern humans are broadly similar in metaphor use and cognitive processes, research in the humanities must continue to account for the differences implied by the particular metaphors employed and emphasized in diverse traditions. I contend that responsible hermeneutic practice does this through provisional, yet indispensable, generalizations.



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Art as Experience.John Dewey - 2005 - Penguin Books.
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Art as Experience.John Dewey - 1934 - New Yorke: Perigee Books.
Confucian role ethics: a vocabulary.Roger T. Ames - 2011 - Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press.

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