& “I think, therefore I AM” , Rene Descartes
The Interaction of MIND – Human Agency, Structure and CULTURE
Ethiopia is a collective with a diversity of cultures, and no doubt given all the common interaction of history, let alone the struggle for survival and development, but also the fact of our geopolitical proximity, has given us a similar collective mind-set. However, we still do have all somehow differing individual collective mind-sets, depending on the different cultural backdrops (including multifaceted experience, good or bad; presumably with their “somatic-markers” influencing our decision-making process) of our origin.
All the legacy political discourse concerning nationalities and ethnicities are all still actual in our reflection- and memory–set of our generation. -Mind and memory-sets, which have differing impacts in the experience of a common social evolution and cultural development to elevate our overall Ethiopian-national consciousness, unless channeled by a conscious will of universal mind-set based on a modern rationality and human reason. To make an end to autocracy, like what we are enthusiastically witnessing in North Africa and the Middle-East/+Arabian Peninsula, the perception or/and the coordination of the struggle for Freedom and Dignity in Ethiopia with a diversity of cultural background, demands not only a nation-wide common collective good will but a well-informed mind in social-sciences as well as other periphery-cultural disciplines, like neuroscience. This will certainly help in understanding and containing our basic instincts and feelings in the process of policy design and all encompassing national political activities. – For it is ridiculous to deny that every one of us is not only a social “creature”, possibly conscious but also unconscious with feelings, emotions, affect etc. with an evolving long history of “embodied subjectivity”.
Without losing sight of (in previous posts), what “neuro-politics” has to say on the theme of Mirror-Neuron System in the realm of human communication and social interaction, for the formation of higher consciousness, the role of structure, culture and nurture has of course still to be highlighted.
Nonetheless, in this context,
Exploring the Minded Brain
By ANTONIO R. DAMASIO; “A well-known researcher in several areas of neurology and neuroscience“ has an interesting discourse to provide. A discourse which I think is relevant to complement our knowledge in social sciences.
„When we consider humans, however, and the novel physical and social environments in which humans have thrived, it appears that we rely both on genetically based biological mechanisms and on suprainstinctual survival strategies that have developed in society and that are transmitted by culture. Those strategies require a minded brain, one with consciousness, reason, and willpower. I am not reducing social phenomena to biological phenomena, but rather calling attention to their powerful mutual interactions. Culture and civilization obviously arise from the behavior of biological creatures, but that behavior was generated in collectives of individuals interacting in specific environments. Culture and civilization could not have arisen from single individuals and cannot be reduced to biological mechanisms or to genetic messages. The comprehensive understanding of culture and civilization requires biology and the social sciences.”
(cf. p. 19/185;Exploring the Minded Brain)
For social science, this discourse can specially be an interesting reference in combination with the” social morphogenetic approach” of sociology as promoted by Margaret Archer; may be as seen a quasi thesis-anti-thesis moment with that of Anthony Giddens` in “british sociology”:-
–The Morphogenesis of Subjectivity: between constructionism and neuroscience : http://tap.sagepub.com/content/14/6/797
Archer (1995) describes a morphogenetic approach to social theory founded in the work of Bhaskar. She proposes an analytical dualism temporally separating agency and structure, in order to facilitate an understanding of their interaction. On this view, actors inherit pre-existing social structures that they reproduce or transform, so creating the structures that future actors will inherit. However, the activity of transformation or reproduction potentially also transforms (or reproduces) the agency of those who thus act. Archer describes this as a “triple morphogenesis” where “agency leads to structural and cultural elaboration, but is itself elaborated in the process”. Like structuration theory, morphogenesis recognises the mutual constitution of agency and structure, but unlike structuration theory resists their conflation each with the other.
Archer’s account lays emphasis on social theory, but also has implications for psychology. This chapter explores some of these implications with reference to a notion of embodied subjectivity consonant with (critical realist versions of) social constructionist psychology. A notion of subjectivity structured and momentarily completed by discourse in the relational-responsive fashion described by Shotter will be advanced. This will be supplemented by Damasio’s (1994) “somatic marker” hypothesis, a neurological account of how socially-acquired repertoires of feelings condition decision-making in social settings. Damasio proposes that somatic feedback is already central to cognition, so challenging the disembodied character of much contemporary psychology. It will be suggested that a notion of subjectivity derived from the work of Shotter and Damasio is thoroughly non-Cartesian and open to completion and elaboration through successive morphogenetic interactions with elements of social structure.
-The odd couple: Margaret Archer, Anthony Giddens and British social theorybjos_1288 253..260
-The Place of Culture in Organization Theory: Introducing the Morphogenetic Approach: