Chapter 3 of Intro to Cognitive Cultural Studies deals with the modular mind and how it consistently evolves. One main point of the chapter is that the brain can take in a lot of information, but there will always be “gaps” that need to be filled in. In the painting Transfiguration, Raphael influences how these gaps are filled by the way he portrays Jesus and the Apostles who try to heal boy who is possessed by a demon. By showing Jesus as levitating, he is presented as a powerful being, even though the Scripture that the painting is based on doesn’t mention that he levitates. The inability of the Apostles to heal the boy emphasizes the Scripture that states Jesus will do the work they cannot do because they lack faith. Raphael also takes advantage of our normal ways of understanding other people’s intentions and thoughts by reading the meaning of other people’s body postures, facial expressions, and hand gestures and analogizing them to our own.
This concept of mind modularity and the “gaps” that are created could be tied into Pierce’s Theory of Semiotics, where icons and indices have natural relationships with what they stand for, but symbols have to be learned. Pierce stated that everything can be seen as standing for something else. Symbols can have multiple meanings in different cultures. Therefore, after reading this chapter, I believe culture could determine how these “gaps” are filled in a particular painting or text. This could be demonstrated by showing Transfiguration to a number of individuals from different cultures and receiving their interpretations of the painting. The collection of interpretations would help answer the research question:
Does a person’s culture determine how information is categorized and gaps are filled in that person’s brain?