Cognitive Science and the Mechanistic Forces of Darkness, or Why the Computational Science of Mind Suffers the Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune

Techne 5 (2):73-82 (2000)
A recent issue of Time magazine (March 29, 1999) was devoted to the twenty greatest "thinkers" of the twentieth century -- scientists, inventors, and engineers. There is one interesting omission: there are no cognitive psychologists or cognitive scientists. (Cognitive science is an amalgam of cognitive, neuro, and developmental psychology, artificial intelligence, philosophy, linguistics, biology, and anthropology.) Freud is there, to be sure. But, while he was very influential, it is not even clear that he was a scientist, let alone a cognitive scientist. There are those who regard Freud as somewhere between incompetent and a charlatan (see Glymour, 1988). In any case, though Freud's positive proposal for the mind's architecture -- namely, that it contains the unconscious -- seems correct as far as it goes, it does appear that all the details are wrong. For example: (1) there is a lot more to the mind than the mere unconscious; (2) it is doubtful that there is an id, ego, and superego; (3) most dreams may very likely be meaningless; and (4) human motivation, even unconscious motivation, is about a lot more than sex. In the end, because he was most interested in certain kinds of human mental malfunctioning, Freud is probably best thought of as a physician, a proponent and early explorer of human mental health; he was not an experimental cognitive psychologist.
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DOI 10.5840/techne2001529
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