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Between neuron, culture and logic: explicating the cognitive nexus

By Brian R Gaines


The paradigm shift from behaviorism to cognitive science has wrought many changes in our methodologies, experimental techniques, and models of human activity. Not the least of these changes has been the legitimation of such hidden variables as mental processes. The cognitive science paradigm has been a swift river carrying us to new horizons but there are now a number of major counter-currents. The positivism of behaviorism is being replaced by the reductionism of neural networks—how do mental processes arise out of physical cellular activity? The ontogenetic bias of both behaviorism and cognitive science is being challenged by ethnomethodological perspectives in which the very notion of an individual is an experimental artifact—how do mental processes arise out of the lifeworld? Meanwhile the promise of greater understanding of the knowledge level is being fulfilled, and operational models of human cognition and action are being generated—how do mental processes relate to the logical structures of overt knowledge? This paper surveys these issues both theoretically and in terms of practical applications. It suggests that it is from the underlying tensions that the strength of the cognitive science paradigm arises, but to harness that strength requires much broader concepts of cognition and mental processes than are conventionally accepted

Year: 1991
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