the analogy of sieve

stenka25

Senior Member
South Korea, Han-gul
The next two sentences are from the Blank Slate written by Steven Pinker.

https://books.google.co.kr/books?id=ePNi4ZqYdVQC&pg=PA25&lpg=PA25&dq="Others+likened+the+mind+to+some+kind+of+sieve"&source=bl&ots=kKu3DgOqT3&sig=wgSzlGQZFZn5kXyQmjnwtJSsY-Q&hl=ko&sa=X&ei=1pkaVYSXEoTt8AXckYGYCA&ved=0CCEQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q="Others likened the mind to some kind of sieve"&f=false

Others likened the mind to some kind of sieve:
Much of what is commonly called “human nature” is merely culture thrown against a screen of nerves, glands, sense organs, muscles, etc. — Leslie White (1949)

Or to the raw materials for a factory:
Human nature is the rawest, most undifferentiated of raw material. — Margaret Mead (1928)


These two sentences have the same structure of sense.
The first sentence compare the mind to sieve quoting Leslie White as saying ‘culture thrown against a screen of nerves, glands, sense organs, muscles, etc.’

And the second to raw materials quoting Margaret Mead as saying ‘the rawest, most undifferentiated of raw material.’

Although the second analogy is not hard to understand, the first one I cannot understand. How can ‘culture thrown against a screen of nerves, glands, sense organs, muscles, etc.’ be compared to sieve?
 
  • sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    A sieve is a type of screen that lets something through while holding back others.

    The text appears to be saying that much of what is called "human nature" is simply culture run through a human body.

    (I think :) )
     
    The first analogy is interesting. It says that what someone calls 'human nature'--let's say Descartes-- is really just Descartes' culture (17 century France) run through a sieve. The nerves and sensory apparatus just pick up a few items of many (in the culture), just as a sieve does. (Of all the electromagnetic signals, what the human detects as 'visible light' is just as relatively narrow band; the apparatus has sieved out what we call 'red' or 'green' and let the rest--most frequencies--go by.)
     

    stenka25

    Senior Member
    South Korea, Han-gul
    The first analogy is interesting. It says that what someone calls 'human nature'--let's say Descartes-- is really just Descartes' culture (17 century France) run through a sieve. The nerves and sensory apparatus just pick up a few items of many (in the culture), just as a sieve does. (Of all the electromagnetic signals, what the human detects as 'visible light' is just as relatively narrow band; the apparatus has sieved out what we call 'red' or 'green' and let the rest--most frequencies--go by.)
    Thanks a lot, bennymix.
    Your reply gives me another insight to this sentence.
     
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