Does Cognitive Structure Ground Social Structure? The Case of the Radical Enlightenment

In: Journal of Cognition and Culture
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  • 1 Associate Professor, Interdisciplinary Studies and Psychology Departments, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Lakehead University, Orillia, Ontario, Canada

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Abstract

Cross-culturally two widely observed forms of social structure are individualism (open societies) and ascribed hierarchies (closed societies). Associated with these two types of social structure are a wide range of recurrent concomitant features. It is proposed that these two forms of social structure are common, in part, because they are associated with modular forms of understanding that lend intuitive support to them. In particular, it is proposed that individualistic open societies are associated with a folk-physics mode of construal whereas closed societies are associated with a folk-biological mode of construal. These distinctions are illustrated with the European Enlightenment as a hypothesized transition from closed to open societies.

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