Analogy and Mysticism and the Structure of Culture [and Comments and Reply]

  • Klein S
  • Bradshaw J
  • Harnad S
  • et al.
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Examples are drawn from the cultures of China, Africa, Tibet and Japan, and the Navaho in support of a model for human cognitive processing which assumes that a major component of the rules for calculating human behavior is resident outside the individual in the symbolic artifacts of culture. An Appositional Transformation Operator (ATO) is specified that can relate semantic concepts and patterns of behavior by analogy. The ATO is shown to work with great computational efficiency for verbal and visual analogies. The I Ching, a philosophical divination mechanism of classical Chinese culture, is shown to be constructed on the basis of an ATO logic. The existence of such an ATO divination system throughout much of Africa is also discussed, as well as the apparent encoding of ATO structures in the iconic imagery of Buddhism and of Navaho sand painting. This analysis is intended as part of a cross-cultural validation of a theory which posits that ATOs are the basis for human calculation of behavior by analogy and for perception and use of metaphor.




Klein, S., Bradshaw, J. L., Harnad, S., Holbrook, B., Paredes, J. A., Rubinstein, R. A., … Young, J. A. (1983). Analogy and Mysticism and the Structure of Culture [and Comments and Reply]. Current Anthropology, 24(2), 151–180.

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