Charting the course

“Thought is the wind, knowledge the sail, and mankind the vessel.” - A. Hare

Everyone experiences happiness, anger, and grief through his/her life-time; however, the actual physical or social display of these emotions change among people, locations, and time. This research sets out to navigate and explore the world of emotions as cultural constructs which will open avenues to studying, and possibly understanding, the relationship between culture and cognition. Both the social and biological components shall be considered to develop a well-rounded approach to the topic that includes the emotional human in various contexts. Furthermore, “grief” and grieving practices will be the center focus of this research, although, other emotions will be included for support. Grief and grieving practices will be examined cross-culturally via ethnographies. A very short historical synopsis on Western civilization's attitudes and concepts of emotions will be also introduced to the readers for contrasting purposes. Moreover, it will also serve as a reminder to everyone that no group is above cultural influences. Furthermore, readers should also prepare themselves for ethnographic works that challenge Western ideologies and concepts. It is VITAL that all readers try to adapt a light case of cultural relativism; however, readers ought to consider the “why” for their personal reactions towards the material. (The writer more than definitely urges everyone to practice objectivity – all people, the writer and readers included, do strange and unusual things!).

In addition to the “emotion lexicon” in these cultures, the local concepts of “self” and other ideologies will be lightly examined to illustrate how emotions are socially constructed and reinforced, which shows that emotions are not completely biological or uniform across space and time. Nevertheless, the ultimate goal of this academic voyage will be a contemplation upon the relationship between culture and cognition. That relationship will be investigated through articles, theories, and current research on the topic from various perspectives. The cross-cultural examination will serve as support beams in demonstrating the significant role culture plays in human development. Moreover, it helps understand that the concepts of meaning and self are culturally situated and organized. The evolution of human culture will be surveyed to build an understanding of changes in human cognition throughout time, as well as build images of culture beyond the cliche and generic definitions many people apply to it.

regress proceed