As I’ve said before, take anybody, and dig beneath their high-level values, norms, everyday beliefs, not to mention ideologies, until you get down to their most basic notions that still amount to perceptive cognition about how the world around them looks and works. Stop there, before descending into a quivering mess of raw emotions, impulses, and instincts.
What's there, I sensed long ago, is tantamount to a module in the mind that harbors people's basic perceptions about the nature of social space, time, and action (or agency). By space, I refer to how people see their identity positioned in relation to others, and how they perceive other subjects and objects, near and far — how they perceive all this as being structured, arrayed, linked. By time, I refer to how people discern, prioritize, and interrelate the past, present, and future, and what content they give to the past, present, and future. By action, I mean a sense of agency, of efficacy — whether and how people think they can act to affect matters around them.
This “module” takes shape in early childhood and it’s there ever after. It becomes the bedrock of consciousness and cognition. It undergirds most all we think and do; and most all we think and do gets processed and shaped in this “module.” People’s space-time-action orientations are crucial keys to understanding people as individuals and as cultures.
Scholars of all sorts have long studied people’s space, time, and agency perspectives. But they have mostly done so singly, as specialists on one or another of the three. None have treated the three as an integrated interrelated triplex. Why this is so continues to baffle me, but it means I may still have an opportunity to make my case.
I say triplex cognition analysis is the way to go, and to this end I’ve completed — and posted on the Social Science Research Network site — a draft paper on “People’s Space-Time-Action Orientations: How Minds Perceive, Cultures Work, And Eras Differ” (November 2018). It’s a kind of compilation of ideas and observations I’ve posted on my blog over the past ten or so years. Here’s what the Abstract says:
“Myriad anthropology, psychology, sociology, and other studies show that people’s space, time, and action (agency) orientations are key shapers of cognition and culture. Most studies focus on only one, sometimes two, of the three orientations. It would be better to study them as a triplex bundle. The better we learn to analyze people’s space-time-action perceptions together, the better we may ascertain why people think and behave as they do, how societies and cultures evolve, and what makes historical era’s different from each other. This paper makes its case for triplex cognition analysis partly by depicting and analyzing renowned writings of Henri Lefebvre on space, Philip Zimbardo & John Boyd on time, and Albert Bandura on agency from a preliminary triplex perspective.”
To access, go to the url below. I used to be able to download papers on SSRN with a single click. But now SSRN makes an effort to get people to register first. Nonetheless, over on the bottom left of the second screen is a spot to click to download without registering.