Demystifying mentalities

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Book review: Geoffrey Lloyd, "demystifying mentalities"

This article is also available for rental through DeepDyve. View Metrics. Lloyd refines previous discus- sions by carefully distinguishing between actual democratic practice and its ideology "a propaganda of openness," with an emphasis on argument over authority , but one is still left with the problem of how this ideology triggered, stimulated, or informed the speculations of the physikoi or the Hippocratics.

The democracy-science thesis would seem to be claiming too much, for skill in argumentation and the custom of public debate-to say nothing of agonal striving-figure prominently in Greek social life virtually from the beginning, in the Homeric epics.

Lloyd's research has been par- ticularly valuable in identifying the discursive and linguistic parallels be- tween the legal-political spheres and philosophical discussion e. It is of course a basic axiom of sociology that some form of "existen- tial congruence" obtains between ideas and institutions, but it is equally obvious that the lines of causality can run in either direction, with ideas serving as catalysts for change and as conserving ideologies.

Is there, then, an alternative model or framework that avoids the pitfalls of reductionism without lapsing into idealist excesses? If one is seeking an integrated, com- prehensive theory, the answer must be negative; the unending controversies regarding the Marxist concept of ideology and Karl Mannheim's sociology of knowledge attest to that. One might, however, find a promising lead in the work of Max Weber, whose effort to lay bare the social psychologies of the world religions pays due regard to the differences between the creation and subsequent spread of ideas, chiefly by concentrating on the dynamic be- tween the charismatics and virtuosi who fashion and expound new religious images and the mass converts or "carriers"who readjust the new faith in accordance with their social experiences and needs.

There is value too in the symbolic interactionist framework of George Herbert Mead, which takes us beyond the standard formulations-that ideas "reflect," "mirror,"or are "determined"by underlying social structures-by showing how "society" is intrinsic to the development of "mind" through the internalization of the conversation of gesture, i.

In the sociologies of Weber and Mead, in other words, the emphasis is on process rather than static structural correlations, and that is surely the direction required in the study of highly mutable phenomena such as cultural forms and social psychologies.

Demystifying Mentalities - Geoffrey Ernest Richard Lloyd - Bok () | Bokus

If many of the interpretations and explanations in the sociological study of culture-including Lloyd's own-appear somewhat intuitive and provi- sional, this is no doubt due to the enigmatic nature of the subject matter itself. For just as the transformation of neural stimuli into cognitive re- sponses constitutes one of the great mysteries for physiologists and biol- ogists, so it can be said that delineating the multiform relations between "social practice" and "consciousness" poses the greatest challenge for the social sciences. Given that situation, co-workers from other disciplines are especially welcome; and when, as is the case here, they combine a thorough mastery of the source materials with a high level of analytical sophistica- tion, the results should prove not only enlightening but also provocative.

Demystifying Mentalities qualifies as an important read in both respects. Related Papers. By Joseph Bryant.


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