Method and Tactics in Cognitive Science

By Walter Kintsch; James R. Miller et al. | Go to book overview

Preface

It is never easy to do good research, but it is even harder to do good interdisciplinary research. The editors of this volume are three psychologists whose work has brought them into frequent contact with other disciplines within cognitive science, particularly linguistics and artificial intelligence. There is the excitement of discovering new possibilities, of finding novel contexts for one's work. A new literature with new concepts and fresh methods deals with the familiar old problems and is discovered with enthusiasm. It is of course not the case that the researcher with interdisciplinary interests fancies him or herself a professional in the discipline he or she is interested in, nor even do most of us intend to become real experts in it. We want to stay within psychology, philosophy, AI, or linguistics, whatever the case may be. But we think we can do better by paying close attention to what is going on in related fields. In all too many cases this interdisciplinary enthusiasm is dampened soon: troubles build up, we find ourselves not being taken seriously by the pros in the new field, we can't get them to listen to our concerns, and worse, they seem to be doing everything wrong.

Effective cooperation across disciplines takes even more patience, tolerance, and good sense than scientific cooperation always does. Even when concerned with the same phenomenon, scientists from different disciplines will look at it differently, ask different questions, are qualified to deal with different aspects of the problem. But that does not mean that they cannot profit from each other. Cognitive science is based on the belief that crossing the boundaries of the traditional disciplines is not merely possible, but indeed essential in the study of cognition. Without abandoning our own scientific identity, we must learn to take advantage of the results and insights obtained by researchers in other disciplines

-ix-

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