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Human Lifeworlds

The Cognitive Semiotics of Cultural Evolution

Edited By David Dunér and Göran Sonesson

This book, which presents a cognitive-semiotic theory of cultural evolution, including that taking place in historical time, analyses various cognitive-semiotic artefacts and abilities. It claims that what makes human beings human is fundamentally the semiotic and cultural skills by means of which they endow their Lifeworld with meaning. The properties that have made human beings special among animals living in the terrestrial biosphere do not derive entirely from their biological-genetic evolution, but also stem from their interaction with the environment, in its culturally interpreted form, the Lifeworld. This, in turn, becomes possible thanks to the human ability to learn from other thinking beings, and to transfer experiences, knowledge, meaning, and perspectives to new generations.
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David Dunér & Göran Sonesson - Chapter Ten : Encounters: The Discovery of the Unknown


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David Dunér & Göran Sonesson

Chapter Ten

Encounters: The Discovery of the Unknown

The history of exploration has mostly concerned what travellers actually saw, who they met, where they travelled, which islands and geographic locations they visited. The stories of the historians tell about logistical problems, how the explorers managed to travel from one place to another, about navigation at sea and how they penetrated trackless terrains, followed coastlines, rivers and mountain ranges, and walked through valleys and forests. Not least the political and sociological dimensions of travelling have caught many researchers’ interest, for example in various studies of networks, power relations, contacts, collaborations, careers, and how cultural encounters have led to political and economic change (Campbell 1988; Porter 1991; Pratt 1992; Pagden 1993; Elsner and Rubiés 1999; Bridges 2002; Sell 2006; Abulafia 2008). There is, however, another aspect of travelling to foreign locations that has hardly been touched upon in scholarly studies, but which is the one that will concern us here.

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