Tuesday, 17 February 2015

If language shapes thought, we should reconsider our vocabulary

Just like the post-cognitivist approaches we’re dealing with at the moment tackle the simple input-output model of the brain, mounting evidence from neuroscience that cognitive processes do not map to the brain in a particularly straightforward way has led many researchers to believe that our cognitive models might need some revision.

Philosopher and Cognitive Scientist Michael L. Anderson makes an attempt to summarize the debate over the right taxonomy for understanding cognition. Stating that concepts and categories of psychology have generally emerged from the interactions between our stock of folk-psychological notions and large-scale metaphysical assumptions, he discusses the notion that that our cognitive “models” might need some revision. By outlining three different groups in the ongoing debate that he labels conservatives, moderates and radicals, he gives an overview of the general approaches and outlines their positions.

Anderson stresses that “what a ‘system’ in the brain is, how much its definition should be tied to specialized psychological function, and how much neural overlap there can be between systems and still be considered distinct, are all issues in need of clarification” (p.6) and puts forward the notion that the best way to understand brain’s native ontology “is in evolutionarily-inspired, ecological, and enactive terms.” (p.7/8)

Very interesting and well worth a read.

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