The existential proposition is treated as the unit of meaning in this analysis of cognitive meaning; the notion of a physical field is the principle ingredient in the analysis. Such problems as meaning, reference, belief, and the unity of a judgment are also discussed in the light of contemporary logic and the psychology of perception. Stephen Pepper contributes a helpful introduction to this short but perspicacious work.--G. B.
The complex-systems approach to cognitive science seeks to move beyond the formalism of information exchange and to situate cognition within the broader formalism of energy flow. Changes in cognitive performance exhibit a fractal (i.e., power-law) relationship between size and time scale. These fractal fluctuations reflect the flow of energy at all scales governing cognition. Information transfer, as traditionally understood in the cognitive sciences, may be a subset of this multiscale energy flow. The cognitive system exhibits not just a single power-law (...) relationship between fluctuation size and time scale but actually exhibits many power-law relationships, whether over time or space. This change in fractal scaling, that is, multifractality, provides new insights into changes in energy flow through the cognitive system. We survey recent findings demonstrating the role of multifractality in (a) understanding atypical developmental outcomes, and (b) predicting cognitive change. We propose that multifractality provides insights into energy flows driving the emergence of cognitive structure. (shrink)
The commentators expressed concerns regarding the relevance and value of non-computational non-symbolic explanations of cognitive performance. But what counts as an “explanation” depends on the pre-theoretical assumptions behind the scenes of empirical science regarding the kinds of variables and relationships that are sought out in the first place, and some of the present disagreements stem from incommensurate assumptions. Traditional cognitive science presumes cognition to be a decomposable system of components interacting according to computational rules to generate cognitive performances (i.e., component-dominant (...) dynamics). We assign primacy to interaction-dominant dynamics among components. Though either choice can be a good guess before the fact, the primacy of interactions is now supported by much recent empirical work in cognitive science. Consequently, in the main, the commentators have failed so far to address the growing evidence corroborating the theory-driven predictions of complexity science. (shrink)
Readers of TopiCS are invited to join a debate about the utility of ideas and methods of complexity science. The topics of debate include empirical instances of qualitative change in cognitive activity and whether this empirical work demonstrates sufficiently the empirical flags of complexity. In addition, new phenomena discovered by complexity scientists, and motivated by complexity theory, call into question some basic assumptions of conventional cognitive science such as stable equilibria and homogeneous variance. The articles and commentaries that appear in (...) this issue also illustrate a new debate style format for topiCS. (shrink)
Recent discussions of ontology have shown an interest in the relation between logic, language and ontology. Quine, for example, has shown how sentences translated into canonical form determine ontological commitment in terms of the values over which bound variables range, while Strawson has maintained that conditions inherent to language determine a system of ontological concepts. But in these discussions the role linguistics might have in the construction of ontological schemes is seldom seriously considered. Except for Benjamin Lee Whorf’s examination through (...) the use of descriptive linguistic techniques of the relation between ontological schemes and the structure of languages, little has been done to apply the results of linguistic research to questions of ontology. In the past this could be attributed to the absence in structural linguistics of significant generalizations about language above the morphophonemic level. This situation has altered with the development of transformational linguistic theory. That theory contains an extensive set of generalizations about the form and content of any natural language. (shrink)
Though emotional faces preferentially reach awareness, the present study utilised both objective and subjective indices of awareness to determine whether they enhance subjective awareness and “blindsight”. Under continuous flash suppression, participants localised a disgusted, fearful or neutral face (objective index), and rated their confidence (subjective index). Psychopathic traits were also measured to investigate their influence on emotion perception. As predicted, fear increased localisation accuracy, subjective awareness and “blindsight” of upright faces. Coldhearted traits were inversely related to subjective awareness, but not (...) “blindsight”, of upright fearful faces. In a follow-up experiment using inverted faces, increased localisation accuracy and awareness, but not “blindsight”, were observed for fear. Surprisingly, awareness of inverted fearful faces was positively correlated with coldheartedness. These results suggest that emotion enhances both pre-conscious processing and the qualitative experience of awareness, but that pre-conscious and conscious processing of emotional faces rely on at least partially dissociable cognitive mechanisms. (shrink)
One finds throughout the history of philosophy repeated though apparently unsuccessful attempts to decide upon the nature or essence of language. This is not a trivial problem. When philosophers themselves have tried to resolve it they seem inevitably to postulate some nonovert level of linguistic form which is more basic to language than its overt grammatical forms. Now linguists have become involved in making similar claims. This is in large measure due to Noam Chomsky’s revolutionary work in transformational generative grammar, (...) research which has lead to a new conception of the goals and nature of linguistic theory. Whatever might be the ultimate fate of Chomsky’s own proposals concerning the nature of language, his insistence on descriptive precision and on theoretically sophisticated models in linguistics will remain paradigmatic. What is in fact most revolutionary about transformational linguistics is not the construction of precise and detailed grammars per se, but the parallel claim that there exist underlying realities of language which to a large extent dictate its overt form and content. For Chomsky these realities are part of the deep structure of language. Although other linguists do not share his view that there is an exclusively syntactically based deep structure, transformationalists generally do agree that there is some linguistic level underlying surface structure which accounts for it. Disagreement exists over the nature of this underlying reality, and it is on this issue that linguistics has a significant point of contact with philosophy. (shrink)
Karl Buhler was a professor of psychology at the University of Vienna when, in 1933, he published "The Axiomatization of the Language Sciences." This book is a translation of that essay, together with an opening, expository and critical essay by Innis of about equal length which deals with Buhler's total language theory. Buhler's work is not well known among English speaking philosophers and psychologists of language, and this exposition and translation provides a proper introduction to him. It is an appropriate (...) project both because his work had a marked influence with some well known German philosophers of language, particularly Ernst Cassirer, and because his own views on language and its characteristic structure are consonant with many aspects of recent semiological and phenomenological views of language. Thus, at the very least this volume provides a missing historical link designed to remind some linguistic researchers of a past they might not know they possess. (shrink)