Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
Journal articles

Evolution and Devolution of Knowledge: A Tale of Two Biologies

Abstract : Anthropological inquiry suggests that all societies classify animals and plants in similar ways. Paradoxically, in the same cultures that have seen large advances in biological science, citizenry's practical knowledge of nature has dramatically diminished. Here we describe historical, cross-cultural and developmental research on how people ordinarily conceptualize organic nature (folkbiology), concentrating on cognitive consequences associated with knowledge devolution. We show that results on psychological studies of categorization and reasoning from “standard populations” fail to generalize to humanity at large. Usual populations (Euro-American college students) have impoverished experience with nature, which yields misleading results about knowledge acquisition and the ontogenetic relationship between folkbiology and folkpsychology. We also show that groups living in the same habitat can manifest strikingly distinct behaviors, cognitions and social relations relative to it. This has novel implications for environmental decision making and management, including commons problems.
Complete list of metadatas

Cited literature [67 references]  Display  Hide  Download

https://jeannicod.ccsd.cnrs.fr/ijn_00000484
Contributor : Scott Atran <>
Submitted on : Friday, April 9, 2004 - 11:31:04 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, March 31, 2020 - 11:46:08 AM
Document(s) archivé(s) le : Saturday, April 3, 2010 - 8:35:48 PM

Identifiers

  • HAL Id : ijn_00000484, version 1

Collections

Citation

Scott Atran, Douglas Medin, Norbert Ross. Evolution and Devolution of Knowledge: A Tale of Two Biologies. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.), 2004, 10, pp.395-420. ⟨ijn_00000484⟩

Share

Metrics

Record views

556

Files downloads

705