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Study Guide Test 1

Cognitive Science
Course Code
John Vervaeke
Study Guide

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Three Scientific Revolutions
1)The first revolution occurred in Ancient Greece at the time of the pre-Socratic natural
philosophers. Specifically, it was Thales whose philosophy can be summed up in the
sentence, All is the moist, the loadstone is full of sucay (sp?), who changed the way
things were explained. Before, a natural phenomenon was explained horizontally, in a
form of a story or narrative, based on supernatural people/gods and their motives. For
example, it rains because Zeus is angry. This does not explain rain; it only adds another
variable to be explained, Zeus. Thales on the other hand, explained things vertically,
analyzing complex observations into basic ideas.
When Thales said All is moist he was claiming that everything is made of
water. The second half of the sentence the loadstone (magnet) is made of sucay (original
word for the psyche, mind) follows the following reasoning. Magnets can attract things
and repel things; they seem alive, so maybe they have the samelife force as living things.
These two claims that Thales made are wrong, yet they are rational explanations. So as
opposed to horizontal explanations, which make complex things more complex, Thales
revolutionized thinking in terms of analyzing complex things down to their basic forces,
which are observable and understandable. This translates to the concept that from
simplicity, complexity emerges. If we are to follow Thales naturalistic revolution in
cognitive science, we must explain the mind and cognition in terms of basic fundamental
processes. If we are to explain behavior, we must explain how the brain works to produce
that behavior.
2)The second revolution occurred in the 15thand 16thcentury, and Galileo and Rene
Descartes were its advocates. Descartes views were that in order to explain something,
one must give a formal explanation which can be explained by mathematical principles
and laws. To formalize something is to explain something without invoking what it is we
are trying to explain. For example, in order to formalize cognition, to understand what the
mind is, we have to explain how the mind works without invoking the mind. Without this
method of formalization, we could get trapped in a homunculus fallacy. For example, one
could say we see animage, and then something, a little man, in our brain determines what
it is. Then one has to explain the little man in the brain, and the little man in his brain,
and so forth.
3)The third scientific revolution was set forth by Turing, whose said that one way to check
that you have a formalized account of cognition is if you can mechanize it: if you can
give a computational account of its processes. Attempting to explain a persons behavior
is difficult, because that person could be deceiving or wanting to please you as you ask
him or her questions. However, if you could build/program a machine that does the same

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things that a person does, then you certainly understand that persons behavior; you have
analyzed it and formalized it.
Drawing from the 3 Scientific Revolutions, in cognitive science, we must analyze, formalize,
and mechanize our understanding of cognition. We must analyze cognition down to its
fundamental basic processes, and give a formal explanation using math and science without
invoking cognition itself, and lastly to truly understand cognition we must mechanize it. Using
the natural imperative, and integrating neuroscience, psychology, philosophy, linguistics, etc. by
doing cognitive science we are trying to continue the scientific revolutions.
(1)Three visions of cognitive science (Generic nominalism, Interdisciplinary Eclecticism, and
synoptic integration):
Cognitive Science has three visions:
1) Generic Nominalism
2) Interdisciplinary Eclecticism,
3) Synoptic Integration
Each vision offers a different perspective to the field of cognitive science. Generic
Nominalism is the weakest of the three visions. It suggests is just the generic name for the
collective sciences including psychology, philosophy, artificial intelligence and linguistics. There
seems to be no reason to partake in Cognitive Science due to this vision. Interdisciplinary
Eclecticism is the second vision that is less weak, but still has its problems. It has the underlying
concept that, it is very similar to interfaithdialogue. It considers cognitive science to be a
"forum" where people discuss and share ideas. Tolerance and respect are promoted. The problem
is that it either degenerates into Generic Nominalism or Synoptic Integration, which is the final
vision. Synoptic Integration is the final vision, that suggests the integration of information from
one discipline to another. It radically transforms disciplines and brings in a wealth of
information. It provokes thought and change. It aims to fulfill the goals of the Scientific
Revolution by connecting information effectively and efficiently through apt problem finding
and problem formulation. It assists in the unification in science as suggested by Kitcher. This
vision is two-pronged in the sense that it is responsible for finding gaps and bridging gaps.
(2) Goals of Cognitive Science:
Cognitive Science is essentially an interdisciplinary science. It requires understanding in several
sciences including psychology, philosophy, neuroscience, linguistics, artificial intelligence and
so on. The goal is to apply knowledge from one of these disciplines into a multitude of other
disciplines. This is accomplished in a number of ways, namely through the apt problem
formulation and apt problem finding. Ultimately, we are trying to explain cognition without
invoking cognition and carry on with the Scientific Revolution. We do not have any scientific
explanation for how we generate scientific explanations. There have been significant
advancements made possible through the effortsof Cognitive Science. Seeing as how Cognitive
Science aims to explain cognition, we are learning more and more about how individuals learn,
reason, and use cognition. Due to its interdisciplinary nature, advancements made in one field
automatically have impacts in other fields. Clearly, this will have numerous impacts in various
industries, including education. Cognitive science is driven by the naturalistic imperative: ìto
analyze, formalize, and mechanize our cognition and understanding Therefore, through
Cognitive Science the goal is to achieve the naturalistic imperative and understand and explain

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(3) Gestalt:
Gestalt is the principle that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Its relevance is of great
importance, in psychology mainly, but it also plays a role in Cognitive Science. In Cognitive
Science, we are trying to essentially explain cognition through the naturalistic imperative. In
order to do this, we need to break down complex phenomenon and ideas into smaller, simpler,
more understandable components. By bringing the science to our own level, then only can we
truly understand and explain the concept. This is similar to what Thales did during the first
Scientific Revolution. However, the Gestalt phenomenon states that the whole is different than
the sum of the parts. Therefore, by simplifying ideas we may actually be manipulating the truth
and not fully capture the essence of the idea or concept.
(4) The Role of Psychology in Cognitive Science:
Psychology plays a huge role in Cognitive Science. How we perceive the world and the
environment has a great deal to do with psychology. The role of psychology within Cognitive
Science mainly revolves around the manner in which we acquire, store, and use learned
information. Therefore,in order to achieve the naturalistic imperative and explain cognition we
must learn about the mind and how it works. This idea is fundamental to the role psychology
plays in Cognitive Science. Psychology is also a scientific attempt to explain behaviour through
experimental methodology. Within cognitive science, the focus is usually given to Cognitive
Psychology which explains human behaviour and the intervening processes such as cognition.
**Please note that I have combined Categorization with similarity and truth/relevance.
1. Categorization
a. What is it?
i.Categorization is the ability to categorize things. A category is a
class of objects that we sense belong together.
b. Why is it important to Cognitive Science?
i.Cognition is a complex phenomenon, understanding it is difficult.
We want to analyze, formulize and mechanize cognition. Thus, we
propose a basic process of cognition to be categorization. Categorization is
important to cognitive Science because cognition is dependant upon this
basic process, Categorization.
ii.Categorization does very fundamental work for you in your ability
to interact with the world in a successful and intelligent manner.
iii.It allows for the coding of experience, in that you do not have to
treat things as raw individuals.
c. How and why is it relevant?
i.Categorization is fundamental for cognition.
ii.It is a central process, many other processes rely on categorization
without which we would not be able to communicate well, we would not
be able to draw abstract facts from the world or code for experience.
d. Implications/Criticisms
i.They questions ishow do we categorize? How do we explain
ii.It seems to be a simple process, Smith suggests that we group
things together because they are similar and keep apart the dissimilar.
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