Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Cognitive Dissonance, Clashing Orientations

This quote is a very good summary explanation of why black and white folks so often do the dance of clashing cognitive orientations:

“[Concerning] the thought processes of people of African descent in Africa, the Caribbean and the United States. According to Matthews, blacks personalize their learning. Knowledge must be recognized as a personal human experience. The black person internalizes his thought. For him, knowledge is not an abstraction which stands on its own outside of the experienced reality. Knowledge passes through the human experience and is processed by the person with his whole being. Black thought is a lived event. Matthews quotes approvingly from the African philosopher, Leopold Senghor, who asserts that the African builds himself into the wholeness of reality by or through affective identification by means of imagery. This is thinking with soul. Hence the unusual manifestation of symbols and metaphors in black thought. According to Senghor we have here to do with the totalized or symbolic all-in-oneness of the African concept which emerges from the immediacy of the black affective intellectual perception. Matthews refers to this as cosmic thinking. He traces his thesis though black literature, especially speeches and sermons. His point is that we encounter a black cognitive process, a way of thinking and perceiving reality which is pan-African. This is to be contrasted with the one-thing-at-a-timeness, the fragmentation of the field of perception and the disruption of the rhythm of movement characteristic of much western analytic thought”.

There we have it. This explains why, for instance, when listening to sermons:

I want to rhapsodize and emote and my white brothers and sisters seemingly would rather rigorously explore the inner coherence of the preacher's arguments.

I feel soulful and want to shout out while many white folks are savoring the silence of introspective analysis.

Do you think the cultural shift to image-based secondary orality has/is changing this in dominant culture?

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