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"They're not generalizing about the character of giant apes," he pointed out. "They're reacting to the immediate action on the screen with direct assertions about what they see."

Does he think Westerners generalise about the character of giant apes?

I suspect if you asked Westerners what they thought King Kong told them about the character of giant apes they might look at you a little strangely.

It's possible he means that there's no abstraction going on - which is more like conceptual indirection than recursion. And there's also no attempt to build a model based on universals generalised from those abstractions.

Both of those seem to be a very Western speciality. I'm not sure other cultures are quite as keen on them as we are, so if he's thinking they should be universals - he's just being very Western about it.

Personally I like the recursion of a monkey watching a monkey watching a virtual monkey.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 06:28:59 PM EST
I wonder if it also has to do with exposure to movies and special effects. Maybe the researchers were expecting the Piranha to act as if they couldn't tell it wasn't a real ape....
by lychee on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 07:35:35 PM EST
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More generally, we're conditioned to believe that narrative is reality - even if only temporarily, while we're watching it unfold.

I think the not-generalising quote is very interesting because it reveals a raft of assumptions and prejudices.  

In the West we seem to be trained to construct narratives almost from birth. It's fun to realise that what looks like an inevitable process is very culturally conditioned.

There's no real reason why we should have to meta the world - but we seem to do it by default in the West, and get social points for doing it better than others.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jul 6th, 2007 at 08:14:00 PM EST
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