Scholarly article on topic 'Cognition as a Subject of Research in Cognitive Science'

Cognition as a Subject of Research in Cognitive Science Academic research paper on "Psychology"

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Abstract of research paper on Psychology, author of scientific article — Irina V. Chernikova

Abstract The phenomenon of cognition, its treatments at different cultural and historical stages is at the basis of the research presented in the following article. In spite of development of science of artificial intelligence, there is still an actual problem of cognition not as a transcendental act existing outside body but as a process inseparably associated with intellectual being, his body, culture, mode of actions. A new understanding of cognition revealed as the result of transdisciplinary approach in cognitive sciences and convergent technologies is presented in this research.

Academic research paper on topic "Cognition as a Subject of Research in Cognitive Science"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 154 (2014) 309 - 313

THE XXV ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL ACADEMIC CONFERENCE, LANGUAGE AND

CULTURE, 20-22 October 2014

Cognition as a Subject of Research in Cognitive Science

Irina V. Chernikova*

National Research Tomsk State University, 36, Lenin Ave., Tomsk,634050, Russia

Abstract

The phenomenon of cognition, its treatments at different cultural and historical stages is at the basis of the research presented in the following article. In spite of development of science of artificial intelligence, there is still an actual problem of cognition not as a transcendental act existing outside body but as a process inseparably associated with intellectual being, his body, culture, mode of actions. A new understanding of cognition revealed as the result of transdisciplinary approach in cognitive sciences and convergent technologies is presented in this research.

© 2014 PublishedbyElsevierLtd.Thisisanopen access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of National Research Tomsk State University.

Keywords: Cognition; language; culture; brain; body; emotions; transdisciplinary approach; convergent technologies

1. Introduction

Cognition is interpreted as a process where conceptual comprehension of reality takes place, this is where fixation of close link of cognition and language comes from. Traditionally, cognition has been an object of regard of philosophy. For ancient philosophers "cognition" and "being" were two most fundamental notions which opened the horizon of philosophizing. Cognition was understood to be an inclusion into absolute spirit; it is not a person who thinks but Nous. According to Plato cognition (Stdvota) is something which human soul recalls, something which it had known before its appearance in human body, dianoia is identified as silent monologue of soul with itself. Aristotle distinguished cognition to be an action of higher Sense and cognition of a person - mind. According to Aristotle the process of cognition is the subject matter of a special science - logics, it is characterized by production of notions, judgements and conclusions. Understanding of cognition as an internal intellectual activity, inner

* Corresponding author. Tel.: 89138002419 . E-mail address: Email: chernic@mail.tsu.ru

1877-0428 © 2014 Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of National Research Tomsk State University. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.10.169

dialogue based on innate ideas (rationalism) was common. Speech and meaningful adequate activity was considered as an expressive symbol of internal intellectual activity (Gural, 2008). The opposite to rationalism as explanation of the nature of cognition was empiricism, the tradition where cognition was interpreted as a derivative of sensation (there is nothing in mind but for species). Cognition was understood as a logical process inside a person by philosophers from Descartes to Kant. A position which stopped inconsistencies of rationalism and empiricism as explanation of cognition was offered by Kant. He proved the categorical nature of cognition. Treatment of cognition as categoric synthesis generating a variety of experience (Neo-Kantianists) opened new horizon of this problem: cognition connected with language and culture. In linguistics, starting from Humboldt, a close link between language and culture has been distinguished and the language has been regarded as the speech forming organ. According to the hypothesis of linguistic relevance, the basis of which was largely formed by Humboldt's id eas, cognition is determined by language. Different forms of cognition and different ontologies correspond to different languages (Sapir,1993; Whorf,1953). However, it was Gegel who noticed that cognition is neither more nor less than activity in subject and with subject and human's actual cognition should be judged not according to what he says but what he does. Classic theory presented categorization process as mechanical operating of abstract symbols, hereof there is a parallel between cognition and computer.

In the twentieth century the sciences of artificial intelligence began to study cognition. However, human intellectual processes, the modeling of which artificial intelligence is engaged in, cannot be restricted to universal laws of human cognition. Most intellectual tasks are solved by humans not from scratch but having been inserted into a cultural and historical context where the norms of explanation, description, proof, argumentation, etc. have been set. Computer modeling of intellect does not include many features of human consciousness: intuition which is in charge of accidentalness of solutions; emotions as a property of human psychic which influences cognition. Within the limits of this approach it is impossible to explain the role of context in functioning of the "language -cognition" system.

New non-classical treatments are formed nowadays in concrete sciences which study cognition. Thus, in linguistics there forms understanding of categorization, formed in theory of prototypes, according to which it is insufficient to understand cognition as a mirror of nature or as operation with abstract symbols. Cognition is connected with the nature of the intellectual organism, including the nature of its body and its interaction with the external environment. In non-classical treatment categorization reveals itself as "a matter of both human experience and imagination - of perception, motor activity, and culture on the one hand, and of metaphor, metonymy, and mental imagery on the other." (Lakoff, 2004).

The modern approach to cognition is formed on the basis of achievements of neuroscience, cognitive psychology, cognitive linguistics, sciences of artificial intelligence. The approach of cognitive science, conducting transdisciplinary research of cognition and intellect, is based on a new ontology which is called holistic and on nonclassical epistemology. According to the new view, cognition has an embodied basis and it is something more than simple operation with abstract symbols. Many representatives of analytical philosophy denied the possibility of a nonverbal idea. Cognitive science gives reasons to believe that perception is not initially verbalized. According to the data of Ivanitskiy, perceptive synthesis creating perception emerges within the range of 180-200 msec. Subjective trial of image is fixed at the end of this range and its verbalization is implemented not earlier than in 300 msec. (Ivanitskiy, 2004). Cognitive science presumes that we think with concepts as holistic, culturally and historically loaded formations.

2. Theoretical basis for the research of cognition

2.1. Research technologies

In the second half of the twentieth century cognition becomes the subject of transdisciplinary research in sciences of artificial intelligence, and in cognitive science. Cognitive science was formed as interdisciplinary research of cognition and intellect by means of psychology, linguistics, sciences of artificial intelligence, neuroscience. A new stage of integration of sciences and technologies in research of cognition is connected with so-called NBIC -technologies. This umbellate term is to denote the cluster of sciences: nano-, bio-, information and cognitive technologies whose convergent cooperation lets us speak about a higher level of integration - transdisciplinary

research of cognition (Chernikova, 2011.)

2.2. The notion of "cognition" in a modern science

In spite of the growing scope of knowledge in the field of artificial intelligence, in the field of neurosciences, linguistics and psychology it is necessary to admit that the problem of cognitive sciences "cognition - consciousness - brain" has a certain notional context which is impossible to explain within the bounds of separate science disciplines, each of which studies and models cognitive processes by itself.

According to the new view, cognition has an embodied basis; it is something larger than a simple operation with abstract symbols. Cognitive science presumes that we think with concepts as holistic, culturally and historically loaded formations. Our brain cognizes the outside world, building models and making predictions. It builds these models by combining information coming from sensory organs with our aprioristic expectations. Thanks to the technical capabilities of neuroscience we can study the surprising results of these researches, giving evidence that the brain knows something about the outside world which our consciousness is unaware of. In addition to that, we can share with other people the experience of a perception of the outside world. Over many centuries this ability to share experience has created human culture which in its turn can influence our cerebration. Having overcome these illusions created by brain, we can make a foundation of science which will explain us how our brain forms our consciousness. In the book by C. Frith "Making up the Mind" were described illusions created by brain, were considered many research results, demonstrating that consciousness and brain are connected but not identical (Frith, 2010).

2.3. Theoretical models of cognition

According to the connectionist model, in the basis of functioning of neural nets of our brain there is not abstract logical cognition but pattern recognition. G. Edelman and G. Tononi came to the following conclusion: "Cognition occurs in terms of synthesized patterns, not logic, and for this reason it may always exceed in its reach syntactical or mechanical relations" (North, 2010). In particular, the study of neurophysiology processes in human brain showed that the speed of movement of action potential along nerve fibril and the time of synoptic pass do not support naturally existent operating speed of mechanisms of cognition and memory, i.e. the processes of cognition and memory occur for a fraction of an instant faster than neurotransmission. W.Penfield in his book "The Mystery of the Mind" highlights "The Mind is always higher than the content of our consciousness. It is absolutely independentessence. The Mind orders, the brain executes. The brain is the messenger to consciousness." (Penfield, 1975). However, cognitive functions are supplied not only by the brain but also by the endocrinous and immune systems, although they are not all the participants of the process which is called "consciousness". It is quite suitable to use the metaphor of consciousness being a symphony which is played by an orchestra without a director.

In modern epistemology, which unlike classical cognitive theory relies on the data of concrete sciences, Embodied cognition theory is being developed. Characterizing this approach as representing non-classical epistemology connected with cognitive science E.N. Knyazeva notices that Embodied cognition means that cognition is embodied and determined by embodied abilities of a living being to move in a nearby environment, to act, to perceive the world and for a human even to think about the world... Embodied approach is a natural continuation of nonlinear-dynamic approach in epistemology where cognitive activity is considered holistic, entire and systemic in the triple plan. First of all, brain, body and consciousness (psychic) of a human (living being) is considered to be a unified system. Secondly, organism (body-mind) and nearby environment are also considered to be a unified system. In the third place, brain is considered to be a part of entire system of organism. Cognition happens not simply with the brain but with the entire body, it is attempt to adapt to the world, which is itself an evolutionary product (Knyazeva, 2012).

One of the creators of this approach was a biologist, neurophysiologist and philosopher F. Varela; nowadays it is being developed by A. Damasio, R. Beer, G. Lakoff, R. Brooks, E. Thompson and many others. According to the approach of corporeity of consciousness, emotions play an important role. To explain the role of the body in the cognitive process A. Damasio made the somatic marker hypothesis which acts as specific evidence of feeling and

gives spontaneous signals about the consequences of the chosen interactions. According to this hypothesis a human is born with a neuronic mechanism of primary emotions which is innately built in processing of signals defining social behaviour. Most of the somatic markers are formed during further processes of study and socialization on the basis of the process of secondary emotions. Emotions and corporal reactions connected with them participate in the formation of mental representations from neuronic patterns. There are two levels distinguished in the work of consciousness: More fundamental nucleonic consciousness which is closely connected with emotions and expanded consciousness connected with language. Nucleonic consciousness appears suddenly without logical cognition and language. Mental representations are not mirror reversal of objects but they are constructed by brain and body as an entire organism. Mind functions as integrated unity of body and brain which includes neuronic, endocrinous, immune processes and it is complementary with nearby environment. "I am not saying that the mind is in the body. I am saying that the body contributes more than life support and modulatory effects to the brain. It contributes a content that is part and parcel of the workings of the normal mind" (Damasio, 1994). The research by A. Damasio gives ground to think that there are neurobiological bases of ethics. His research can be labeled a cognitive approach to emotions where emotions are considered to be derived from the combination of arousal and cognitive processes or as a sort of cognitive process. It is justified that emotions carry information which is used in decision making, except that providing of information refers to primary functions of emotions.

2.4. Analysis of the difference between emotions and mind

Traditionally emotions and mind were considered to be antagonists but in the framework of the system and evolutionary approach, where cognition is understood as a process of active collaboration with ambience, mind and emotions are considered to be particular parts of unified process of cognition. The Russian psychologist and neurophysiologist Y.I. Alexandrov, developing a system and evolutionary approach in psychology, notices that the mind and emotions are characteristics peculiar to correspondingly the most and the least differentiated organization levels of behaviour, representing transformed stages of development. They are considered to be different characteristics of unified system organization of behavior. Mind and emotions are characteristics of different, simultaneously actualized levels of system organization of behavior, representing transformed stages of development and corresponding to different stages: development of both subjective experience and culture is made as a transition from less to more differentiated forms. The principle of differentiation is characterized as one of the most common laws of development, the system differentiation of experience can be considered as a movement from emotions to mind and that of culture as a movement from morale to law (Alexandrov, 2008).

3. Conclusion

The formation of human cognition, the specificity of which is in a human's ability of self-cognition, has gone through the formation of new cognitive mechanisms and layers among which there are logical-verbal and symbolic cognition, realized by means of language, tradition and morale. Culture as a social code is a new means of translation of information which considerably accelerated the process of cognitive evolution.

Language, cognition and communications create a new architecture creating both mind and morality and freedom which are connected correlatively. Morale and freedom as metaphysical essences characterizing human existence appear to be an evolutionary determined reality, a phenomenon characterizing spirituality in multilayer human nature - a biological, reasonable and spiritual being.

There is one more layer for a human determining his collaboration with the world. This level is connected with sociolinguistic activity and self-reflection. A new methodology is required in order to explain the functioning of the object on this level of complexity. D. Dennet offered a theory of mindsets (physical mindset, mindset of design and intentional mindset), as a conception to justify compatibility of causal explanation and explanation on the basis of reasons.

In conclusion it should be noticed that the modern approach to cognition is formed on the basis of the achievements of neuroscience, cognitive psychology, cognitive linguistics, and the sciences of artificial intelligence. The approach of cognitive science which conducts transdisciplinary research of cognition and intellect is based on a

new ontology which is called holistic and on non-classical epistemology. Answering the raised question of what transdisciplinary research of cognition in comparison with concrete scientific and philosophical one gives, the attempt was to show that cognitive science studies cognition on a higher level of complexity, simultaneously taking into consideration several rank parameter (the term of synergetics) characterizing this complex nonlinear phenomenon, although it is too early to speak about a revelation of the secret of thinking.

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