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Lecture 2

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University of Toronto St. George
New College
John Vervaeke

NEW333 Lecture 2, September 21 Intro Lecture 1 was about the meaning crisis. The Cartesian theories resulted in gaps between phenomenon and cognition. How does the mind generate explanations about the mind? with 1) the loss of the Biblical narrative to due science; and 2) the separation between wisdom houses (monasteries) and intellectual houses (universities) We cannot contextualize ourselves in our own worldview. Crisis! The recent progress of research in CogSci and the progress of Buddhism into the West is driven by cultural imperative, to defeat the Meaning crisis. Note that the meaning crisis is not just personal! It is cultural, socio-political. And crises are interrelated! The meaning crisis, the economic crisis, and the environmental crisis. Let’s step back. What is CogSci? How do you do it? John will do CogSci with us in class… What is CogSci? References: the philosopher/sociologists Jurgen Habermas and Charles Taylor Ancient Greeks and Classical Christians used 3 normative spheres (how one believes and perceives) to judge the world. 1) Truth 2) Goodness 3) Beauty To Greeks/Christians, these three concepts are deeply interconnected, and unified in God. However, after the Scientific Revolution, Protestant Reformation, these 3 normative spheres became isolated from one another. Truth – Studied by science ------------------------------------ Goodness- Studied by ethics ---------------------------------- Beauty – studied by art Emmanuel Kant even wrote three separate volumes – On Beauty, On Truth, On Goodness. These three spheres are essential to our lives. By fragmenting these, are our lives fragmented as well? So of course, there are two distinct arguments: -Connectedness (anti-modern) vs non-connectedness (modern) CogSci is a connected discipline: it is the product of psychology, religion, computer science, behavior scientists, neuroscience, linguistics. CogSci has three visions: 1) Generic normalism: simply the classifying of theories into respective disciplines 2) Interdisciplinary eclecticism: having a nice dialogue between psychologists, neuroscientists, etc. Think of a religious roundtable. A conversation to celebrate diversity and to probe a topic from different opinions. But what happens after you meet and chat? 3) Synoptic Integration: taking theories from many disciplines, and creating a new THEORETICAL CONSTRUCT. This will require the foundation of a new CogSci language and set of rules to effectively cross-pollinate ideas. Making a theoretical construct Plausibility – How trustworthy is this argument? What biases were involved in making this argument? useful definition of plausible: worthwhile, reasonable, making good sense Making good sense – powerful – has potential. Testing trustworthiness – doing many experiments from many different angles. If results are consistent, we have CONVERGENCE Multi - aptness – we want a construct that will be useful for many issues! A metaphor – a very apt construct. See page 5 Appendix on metaphor for more explanation. F = ma, Newton’s 2 law. This equation can be used in physics, chemistry, biology. It is a robust equation! Unlike a metaphor which has one use, F=ma can be used a lot. Scientists would call this an elegant or beautiful equation. Multi-apt theories are powerful! They can change the world! Converging ------------------------------The perfect theory-
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