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Mind-SocietyFrom Brains to Social Sciences and Professions$
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Paul Thagard

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190678722

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190678722.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 22 January 2022

Explaining Social Change

Explaining Social Change

(p.3) 1 Explaining Social Change

Paul Thagard

Oxford University Press

Social change results from mental mechanisms in individuals and from social mechanisms for the interactions of thinking individuals. The mental mechanisms operate with images, concepts, rules, analogies, and emotions, all of which derive from neural mechanisms based on an important kind of neural process called semantic pointers. The interactions of individuals contribute to changes in their mental representations through cognitive and emotional communication that transfers, prompts, and instigates semantic pointers. Changes in the mental states and behaviors of individuals and groups result from changes in representations and interactions. Explanation of social changes requires identification of emergent properties of groups that are not simply the sum of change of changes in individuals. Social change resulting from cognitive and social mechanisms often results from critical transitions, not just gradual accumulations. Emotional gestalt shifts are important critical transitions that occur when individuals and groups reconfigure their arrays of attitudes and values.

Keywords:   critical transition, emergence, emotion, mental mechanism, mental representation, semantic pointer, social change, social mechanism

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