Public Sociology, Cognitive Communication, and the Limits of Knowledge

By Bratu, Sofia | Economics, Management and Financial Markets, December 2012 | Go to article overview

Public Sociology, Cognitive Communication, and the Limits of Knowledge


Bratu, Sofia, Economics, Management and Financial Markets


ABSTRACT. In this paper I am particularly interested in exploring cognitive habits and inclinations acquired from education, the development and use of cognitive enhancements, the societal benefits of effective cognitive enhancement, the use of brain images to represent the level of brain activity associated with cognitive processes, and communication as a social psychological phenomenon. The results of the current study converge with prior research on the critical role interaction plays in clarifying speakers' intentions, the effects of communication on cognition, the social psychology of interpersonal communication, and the impact of social factors on language comprehension.

JEL Classification: D83, Z13, A14

Keywords: communication, social psychological phenomenon, cognition, education

1. Introduction

This study is grounded in the considerable body of scholarship examining the symbolically generalized codes of communication, the cognitive core of the scientific development, the knowledge-based development of the social system, and the epistemological status of the knowledge content. The theory that I shall seek to elaborate here puts considerable emphasis on the social system of meaning-processing, new mechanisms of social coordination, the cognitive code of the communication, and the relation between the cognitive and the social dimension. The paper generates insights about the social cognitive basis of normative behavior, the social identity analysis of norms, the role of communication in social identity-contingent normative phenomena, and the role of social interaction and communication in normative phenomena.

2. The Relation between the Cognitive and the Social Dimension

Bell holds that public dialogues and decision-making concerning social issues are future-oriented. Many people fail to perceive or to investigate the real possibilities that exist for their individual or collective lives. Individuals and groups often try to choose and act to create their own futures, designing the future. Moral principles often embody an orientation toward the future. Everyday life situations may confront people with complexities that may overwhelm their capacity to make easy moral judgments. Most people do not have reliable methods to evaluate beliefs about the future. In carrying out designs and plans, one must remain alert to the possibility of unanticipated and unintended consequences that are undesirable.

It is worth noting that predictions or forecasts can be self-fulfilling or self-negating (the act of making a prediction becomes a causal factor influencing the accuracy of the prediction). Accurate evaluation may be among the most basic of human values. Bell emphasizes that evolutionary processes of variation, selection, and retention are constantly at work shaping existing human values. Human societies everywhere share a core of common values. Existing values are not necessarily the right or most beneficial set of values for human well-being and freedom. Epistemic implication is a method of objectively testing value judgments.1

Bostrom and Sandberg say that cognitive enhancement is the amplification or extension of core capacities of the mind through improvement or augmentation of internal or external information processing systems: cognitive enhancements improve core cognitive capacities, have the potential to play a positive role, and may amplify the capacities required for autonomous agency and independent judgment. The distinction between therapy and enhancement is often difficult to discern.

There is reason to believe that a cognitively enhanced person is not necessarily somebody with particularly high cognitive capacities (most efforts to enhance cognition are of a rather mundane nature). According to Bostrom and Sandberg, stimulants enhance memory by increasing neuronal activation or by releasing neuromodulators. Technological self-modification and the use of cognitive enhancement methods are an extension of the human species' ability to adapt to its environment. …

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