Culture and Cognition

Academic year
Subject Area
Área Científica do Menor
Language of Instruction
Mode of Delivery
ECTS Credits
1st Cycle Studies

Recommended Prerequisites

History and theory in anthropology, epistemology, working knowledge of the English language (reading skills).

Teaching Methods

This course is organized around theoretical classes and seminar sessions devoted to the presentation and discussion of essays relevant to the field of studies. The assessment is obtained by frequecy in the theoretical and practical lessons and the presence in the final exam in accordance with the Pedagogical Procedure of the UC. The «periodical evaluation» in the form of a research essay stands for 50% of the final grade. The final exam, about topics not pondered in the periodical evaluation, stands for another 50% of the final grade. 

Learning Outcomes

The student must be able to:

(1) To acquire critical skills that could allow an understanding of the relevance of anthropology in the contexto of cognitive science.

(2) To acquire critical skills that could allow an understanding of why there isn’t culture without cognition, nor cognition without culture, using for this discussions and controversies pertaining to anthropology and cognitive science.

Work Placement(s)



The course unit of has as its aim the study of some conceptual acquisitions and thematic circumscriptions of the discipline concerning cognition. Through the semester it will approach this issue/problem having in mind three main points:

1. To show how the problem was object of reflection on the part of several anthropologists since, at least, the evolutionists until Clifford Geertz;

2. To show how the incorporation of anthropology in the field of what would be named as «the new cience of the mind», the cognitive science, produced answers which must be assessed differentially;

3. To show how, contemporaneously, we think about the problem, locating it in much of what cognitive science has been teaching, but including elements that result from critics (some of them particularly harsh and radical) to this interdisciplinary field, in which anthropology didn’t always has a particularly easy or productive relationship for historical reasons that would be pointed out.

Head Lecturer(s)

Luís Fernando Gomes da Silva Quintais

Assessment Methods

Research work: 50.0%
Exam: 50.0%


Quintais, Luís (2010), Cultura e Cognição. Coimbra: Angelus Novus (Biblioteca Mínima).

Sperber, Dan (1996 [1984]), «Anthropology and Psychology: towards an epidemiology of representations», in Explaining culture: a naturalistic approach. Oxford: Blackwell [capítulo 3; pp. 56-76].

Whitehouse, Harvey (2001), The Debated Mind: evolutionary psychology versus ethnography. Oxford: Berg.