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Re: [ontolog-forum] Objectivist Context vs. Cognitive Science

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Barkmeyer, Edward J" <edward.barkmeyer@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2014 19:00:49 +0000
Message-id: <248102e7eeb940cd94a8d41af6caf67e@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>



Not to put too fine a point on it, I understood “cognition” and “the workings of brains” to be essentially synonymous.  I explicitly did not mean to restrict the term “workings of brains” to biophysics and biochemistry, which is why I explicitly included the other disciplines.


So, in essence, I do not believe that you can “study cognition without tying phenomena ... to the working of brains”. 

But I am quite sure that what we have here is a difference in our native understanding of the term.


I fully agree that “all the listed disciplines include a cognitive perspective”, but a cognitive perspective applies to political science, management sciences, and history as well, and I would not describe them as “cognitive science”.  And the anthropologist who works on the evolutionary biophysics of standing upright rarely adopts a “cognitive perspective”, while his colleague who studies toolmaking explicitly does so.


In the long run, I think John is right that we are trying to define an obsolete term that once denoted a specific scope of research.  (I just watched a Nova special on how certain birds plan and solve problems.  Add ornithology to the list. ;-))




From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Gary Berg-Cross
Sent: Saturday, April 12, 2014 1:27 PM
To: [ontolog-forum]
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Objectivist Context vs. Cognitive Science


Two small points on this discussion.


I think that  part of Ed's definition is a bit misleading.

Ed B>"  It involves the selection and integration of concepts from neuroscience (and other biophysical and biochemical sciences), psychology, linguistics, and possibly philosophy, in attempting to understand the workings of brains, particularly human ones.  


One may study cognition without tying phenomena so explicitly to the working of brains, although the cognitive phenomena are ultimately based on some neuronal activity but perhaps understood in interaction with environments and influenced by past events.


Another thing I would add to this attempt to locate constituent disciplines of Cognitive Science is that we sometimes mix the idea of disciplines and perspectives.  So I can have a developmental perspective and say what disciplines use that perspective - and many do, but they also have other perspectives. So all the listed disciplines include a cognitive perspective although they may professionally not consider themselves part of a discipline called Cognitive Science.



Gary Berg-Cross, Ph.D.  


SOCoP Executive Secretary

Independent Consultant

Potomac, MD



On Fri, Apr 11, 2014 at 6:02 PM, Barkmeyer, Edward J <edward.barkmeyer@xxxxxxxx> wrote:


You wrote:

> >> Any branch of science, engineering, or philosophy that addresses
> >> aspects of cognition is part of cognitive science.
> > I think most practitioners of all those trades would disagree with that.

> > 'Cognitive science' is a particular discipline. [It involves the selection and

>> integration of concepts from neuroscience (and other biophysical and
>> biochemical sciences), psychology, linguistics, and possibly philosophy,

>> in attempting to understand the workings of brains, particularly human ones.]

> First paragraph of the home page of the Cognitive Science Society:
> > The Cognitive Science Society, Inc. brings together researchers from
> > many fields who hold a common goal: understanding the nature of the
> human mind.
> > The Society promotes scientific interchange among researchers in
> > disciplines comprising the field of Cognitive Science, including
> > Artificial Intelligence, Linguistics, Anthropology, Psychology, Neuroscience,
>> Philosophy, and Education.
> Source: http://www.cognitivesciencesociety.org/index.html
> I believe that my summary is compatible with the CSS paragraph.

Well, I thought the CSS paragraph was consistent with what I said.  We're good at reading support into someone else's treatise, what a colleague of mine at GE used to call a 'Rohrschach text' -- you get to read your own model into it. :-)

What I said is that Cognitive Science comprises *elements of* these several disciplines (and I agree with the additions, certainly).  But I don't believe that *all* of neuroscience, anthropology, and artificial intelligence, are *part of* 'cognitive science', just because they contribute importantly to it.   It is the "part of" that I objected to.  But maybe we just have different mereologies in mind.


P.S.  [With apologies for the pedagogy involved] I would argue that the use of 'comprising' in the quoted paragraph is dubious, although the word has become ambiguous in English.  If X comprises Y, which is the part and which is the whole?  The dictionary says 'comprising' means 'including' in the first two meanings (which imply different mereological axioms) and 'composing' in the third meaning, which is exactly the inverse relationship.  I doubt that the Society meant that the fields of AI, Linguistics etc., *include* 'cognitive science', and I would argue that they didn't really mean the reverse, either.  And OBTW, I attribute my reaction to usages like this to many years of writing standards and formally capturing knowledge.


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