Hvorfor kan en forskrækkelse føre til afkøling af blodet? Hvordan kan vrede føre til overophedning og alvorlig sygdom?
I denne afhandling undersøges det, hvorfor der tilsyneladende hersker en forkærlighed for kategorierne varmt og koldt i mesoamerikansk kultur; kategorier so... m ikke blot omfatter en termisk kvalitet, men også en metaforisk “varm” eller “kold” kvalitet.
Metaforerne varmt og koldt synes at have en kognitiv tiltrækningskraft på tværs af kulturer, som betyder, at lignende kategorier kan findes mange steder i verden. Undersøgelsen af varmt-koldt-systemet i Mesoamerika er derfor en undersøgelse af både partikulære og universelle strukturer i menneskets forestillingsevne.
This dissertation examines cultural patterns and cognitive models related to the hot-cold dichotomy regarding foods, illnesses and remedies in Mesoamerica. Humoral medicine, based on principles of opposites and balance between qualities of hot and cold, dry and wet, has been known in cultures very separate in time and space. The extensive distribution raises questions about the historical diffusion and cognitive attractiveness of the system: how has it achieved such extension, and why has it remained popular enough to persist until present time?
Whereas the Greek, Indian and Chinese traditions have been well-known, the hot-cold dichotomy in Latin America received less attention until the middle of the 20th century. George Foster was the first to develop a coherent argument for the humoral character of these beliefs and practices. He has presented evidence from historical and contemporary sources to support his thesis of diffusion: that the hot-cold dichotomy in Spanish America must be understood as essentially vestiges of a European system, which was imposed and sustained by the Spanish elite, and which largely replaced pre-Columbine medical knowledge.
Foster’s thesis is examined and critiqued from two points of view: First, his characterisation of Latin American “folk medicine” as essentially European and naturalistic is challenged by showing how ideas of hot and cold properties are found not only in medicine, but on several interconnected levels and deeply rooted in the indigenous Mesoamerican worldview.
Secondly, Foster’s theory of knowledge transmission and hot-cold categorisation is discussed in light of empirical studies and theories of cognitive mechanisms involved in categorisation.
In the conclusion it is argued that the thesis of diffusion is neither sufficient nor necessary to explain the persistence and meaning of the “hot-cold syndrom” in Mesoamerica.
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