The Mind as a Scientific Object: Between Brain and Culture

The Mind as a Scientific Object: Between Brain and Culture

The Mind as a Scientific Object: Between Brain and Culture

The Mind as a Scientific Object: Between Brain and Culture

Synopsis

What holds together the various fields that are supposed to consititute the general intellectual discipline that people now call cognitive science? In this book, Erneling and Johnson identify two problems with defining this discipline. First, some theorists identify the common subject matteras the mind, but scientists and philosophers have not been able to agree on any single, satisfactory answer to the question of what the mind is. Second, those who speculate about the general characteristics that belong to cognitive science tend to assume that all the particular fields falling underthe rubric--psychology, linguistics, biology, and son on--are of roughly equal value in their ability to shed light on the nature of mind. This book argues that all the cognitive science disciplines are not equally able to provide answers to ontological questions about the mind, but rather thatonly neurophysiology and cultural psychology are suited to answer these questions. However, since the cultural account of mind has long been ignored in favor of the neurophysiological account, Erneling and Johnson bring together contributions that focus especially on different versions of thecultural account of the mind.

Excerpt

This book explores a special set of issues that go beyond the scope of our first companion book of collected readings, The Future of the Cognitive Revolution (Oxford, 1997). the issues in question are problems clustering around the question of which is more basic for providing a scientifically justified account of the human mind: physiological or cultural factors? Both the particular chapters we selected and the ways we chose to organize those chapters throw light on various aspects of that general topic.

Once again, we have designed the present book to be interesting and accessible, not just to specialists, but to a wide, interdisciplinary audience as well. With that goal in mind, we have added introductions to each of the parts that readers can use as guides for understanding the chapters contained therein and for seeing how the chapters relate to each other. We also have written the introductions to provide readers with a sense of some of the main difficulties that remain in each of the principal areas discussed. Our goal has been to try to present readers with a picture of selected, important themes in the field of cognitive science that is deeper than what is now usually available, but that still manages to be of both current and wide interest.

We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the many people and institutions who contributed to the production of this book. in addition to all the authors themselves, we thank York University and its Departments of Philosophy, Psychology, and Biology, which helped us with the conference in 1996, “The Mind as a Scientific Object.” This conference was the germ out of which this book began to grow, and where original drafts of at least some of the chapters included in the following pages were presented—namely, those of William Lycan, Ausonio Marras, Gunther Stent, David Olson, Itiel E. Dror and Robin Thomas, Timothy van Gelder, and Tadeusz Zawidzki and William Bechtel. (All the chapters in the book are original, with the exceptions of those written by Jerome Bruner and by David Bakhurst, which are revised versions of essays first published elsewhere.) . . .

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