The Cognitive Sciences: A comment on 6 reviews of The MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences

Artificial Intelligence 130 (2):223-229 (2001)


As the pluralization in the title of MITECS suggests, and as many reviewers have noted, the stance that we adopted as general editors for this project was ecumenical. We were particularly concerned to generate a volume whose range of topics and perspectives indicated that “cognitive science” was different things to different groups of researchers, and that many even fundamental questions remain open after at least four decades of various interdisciplinary ventures. Implicit in this view is a wariness of any putative magic key to understanding the complexities of cognition in all of its diversity, and the hope that by providing a forum in which this range of work could be reviewed by anyone with time and inclination, the field as a whole would be better positioned to reflect on its future directions. Readers of the preceding reviews might be interested in a few words about the development of the project. Contracted in the early summer of 1995, MITECS began as a volume projected at half of its eventual size, but with roughly the same scope it has in published form. The general editors, Frank Keil and myself, had been thinking about a volume of this sort independently over the preceding year or so, and so much of the structure of the volume was already outlined by mid-1995. Thus, we were able to move relatively quickly in the second half of 1995 to assemble a team of 9 advisory editors for the six sections that constitute the organization of the volume; as reviewers have noted, the presence of these sections in the print version is manifest primarily by the six overview essays that occupy the first 100 or so pages in MITECS.

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Robert A. Wilson
University of Western Australia

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