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Source of Reason

 
 
coberst
 
Reply Sun 13 Nov, 2005 08:27 am
Cognitive science has, in the last thirty years, made some revolutionary discoveries. These empirically verified discoveries have resulted from close coordination between neural and linguistic scientists. These efforts have culminated in metaphor theory, which I suspect will become the first paradigm of Cognitive Science. This new metaphor theory is elaborated in "Philosophy in the Flesh" written by linguist George Lakoff and Mark Johnson Philosophy Department head at the University of Oregon.

All God's creatures categorize. As a bare minimum a creature's survival is dependent upon categorizing friend/foe and eat/not eat. From such minimal beginnings our libraries have become full of intellectual stuff.

Cognitive science has discovered how that journey is theoretically possible. A theory explains one possible means to go from here to there. Newton's theory held prominence for 250 years before Einstein issued a modification called The Special Theory of Relativity. This modification, plus others, made possible this computer upon which I dribble my wisdom.

Concept is the tag we attach to neural structures that facilitate the characterization of these categories into a form that allows us to reason about them. Human categories are structured in several different ways; these different ways are called prototypes.

"Each prototype is a neural structure that permits us to do some sort of inferential or imaginative task relative to a category." "Typical case-prototypes are used in drawing inference patterns about category members in the absence of any special contextual information. Ideal-case prototypes allow us to evaluate category members relative to some conceptual standard [ideal husband versus typical husband]. Social stereotypes are used to make snap judgements, usually about people."

Empirical guided research demonstrates that conceptual structures are intrinsically meaningful because these structures originate within the perception ability of the creature. The creature has within its sensorimotor system the ability to conceive and to infer in a manner similar to what we have always before recognized as being only an after the fact mental activity.

Before metaphor theory there was a universal consent that conscious or unconscious intellectual activity accessed the sensations and perceptions of experience and from this data developed concepts, inferences, categories, i.e. that reason was disembodied and literal. Naturally all domains of knowledge assumed that that mind could be studied in terms of cognitive functions while ignoring any connection between brain and the rest of the body.

This is the revolution upon which this whole theory rests, so I will try to be clear. When a creature perceives or moves in space, that creature has within the perception and movement system certain abilities that were considered to be totally and exclusively part of mind. Cognitive science has discovered that many of these capacities lay within the sensorimotor system itself. If we ask, how does reason enter within the evolutionary thread and eventually become the crowning feature of human kind? The answer is that the elementary glimmering of faculty of reason is part of the perception and movement structure of the most primitive creature.
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fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Nov, 2005 12:36 pm
coberst,

Nice reference but not IMO "revolutionary".

For a real whiff of the grapeshot of "revolution in cognitive science" try Piaget's "genetic epistemology", Bateson's "ecology of the mind" or Hameroff's "quantum consciousness".
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fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Nov, 2005 01:37 am
I should have added that Lakoff comes from a tradition of linguists like Chomsky who study language "for itself" i.e. outside communicative dynamics, and I believe such a position is fundamentally floored when attempting to extend to gemeral cognition. For comparison for example one might take the Chomskyian grammatical unit of "the sentence" and compare it with Halliday's unit of "the discourse".
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coberst
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Nov, 2005 02:38 am
fresco wrote:
I should have added that Lakoff comes from a tradition of linguists like Chomsky who study language "for itself" i.e. outside communicative dynamics, and I believe such a position is fundamentally floored when attempting to extend to gemeral cognition. For comparison for example one might take the Chomskyian grammatical unit of "the sentence" and compare it with Halliday's unit of "the discourse".


I have very little knowledge of linguistics but in the book I recognize that Lakoff is not in agreement with Chomsky. It appears to me that Lakoff has used linguistics as a starting position for examining the nature of the "embodied mind" and from this start has, with the help of many others, developed a completely new way of understanding philosophy and the grounding of understanding. I suspect that cognitive science will become a fundamental corner stone for understanding the human condition and will result in great changes in what is now philosophy. I think you might be impressed by a quick evaluation of the book.
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coberst
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Nov, 2005 02:42 am
Book Contents

Part I How the embodied mind challenges the Western Philosophical tradition

Part II The cognitive science of basic philosophical ideas

Part III The cognitive science of philosophy

Part IV Embodied philosophy
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fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Nov, 2005 09:28 am
Coberst,

From my reading of Metaphor Theory via Google, Lakoff does appear to depart from Chomsky but not in the taking the basic unit as "the sentence".

BTW if you are not familiar with contemporary linguistic theory you need to take special care when linguists use the term "science", especially with reference to celebrated arguments distinguishing "descriptive adequacy" from "explanatory adequacy" or differentiating between "competence" and "performance" in their statements about "universals."
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