Prior to the twentieth century, theories of knowledge were inherently perceptual. Since then, developments in logic, statis- tics, and programming languages have inspired amodal theories that rest on principles fundamentally different from those underlying perception. In addition, perceptual approaches have become widely viewed as untenable because they are assumed to implement record- ing systems, not conceptual systems. A perceptual theory of knowledge is developed here in the context of current cognitive science and neuroscience. During perceptual experience, association areas in the (...) brain capture bottom-up patterns of activation in sensory-motor areas. Later, in a top-down manner, association areas partially reactivate sensory-motor areas to implement perceptual symbols. The stor- age and reactivation of perceptual symbols operates at the level of perceptual components – not at the level of holistic perceptual expe- riences. Through the use of selective attention, schematic representations of perceptual components are extracted from experience and stored in memory (e.g., individual memories of green, purr, hot). As memories of the same component become organized around a com- mon frame, they implement a simulator that produces limitless simulations of the component (e.g., simulations of purr). Not only do such simulators develop for aspects of sensory experience, they also develop for aspects of proprioception (e.g., lift, run) and introspec- tion (e.g., compare, memory, happy, hungry). Once established, these simulators implement a basic conceptual system that represents types, supports categorization, and produces categorical inferences. These simulators further support productivity, propositions, and ab- stract concepts, thereby implementing a fully functional conceptual system. Productivity results from integrating simulators combinato- rially and recursively to produce complex simulations. Propositions result from binding simulators to perceived individuals to represent type-token relations. Abstract concepts are grounded in complex simulations of combined physical and introspective events. Thus, a per- ceptual theory of knowledge can implement a fully functional conceptual system while avoiding problems associated with amodal sym- bol systems. Implications for cognition, neuroscience, evolution, development, and artificial intelligence are explored. (shrink)
Thirty years ago, grounded cognition had roots in philosophy, perception, cognitive linguistics, psycholinguistics, cognitive psychology, and cognitive neuropsychology. During the next 20 years, grounded cognition continued developing in these areas, and it also took new forms in robotics, cognitive ecology, cognitive neuroscience, and developmental psychology. In the past 10 years, research on grounded cognition has grown rapidly, especially in cognitive neuroscience, social neuroscience, cognitive psychology, social psychology, and developmental psychology. Currently, grounded cognition appears to be achieving increased acceptance throughout cognitive (...) science, shifting from relatively minor status to increasing importance. Nevertheless, researchers wonder whether grounded mechanisms lie at the heart of the cognitive system or are peripheral to classic symbolic mechanisms. Although grounded cognition is currently dominated by demonstration experiments in the absence of well-developed theories, the area is likely to become increasingly theory driven over the next 30 years. Another likely development is the increased incorporation of grounding mechanisms into cognitive architectures and into accounts of classic cognitive phenomena. As this incorporation occurs, much functionality of these architectures and phenomena is likely to remain, along with many original mechanisms. Future theories of grounded cognition are likely to be heavily influenced by both cognitive neuroscience and social neuroscience, and also by developmental science and robotics. Aspects from the three major perspectives in cognitive science—classic symbolic architectures, statistical/dynamical systems, and grounded cognition—will probably be integrated increasingly in future theories, each capturing indispensable aspects of intelligence. (shrink)
Various defenses of amodal symbol systems are addressed, including amodal symbols in sensory-motor areas, the causal theory of concepts, supramodal concepts, latent semantic analysis, and abstracted amodal symbols. Various aspects of perceptual symbol systems are clarified and developed, including perception, features, simulators, category structure, frames, analogy, introspection, situated action, and development. Particular attention is given to abstract concepts, language, and computational mechanisms.
Grounded cognition offers a natural approach for integrating Bayesian accounts of optimality with mechanistic accounts of cognition, the brain, the body, the physical environment, and the social environment. The constructs of simulator and situated conceptualization illustrate how Bayesian priors and likelihoods arise naturally in grounded mechanisms to predict and control situated action.
Wolfhart Pannenberg has related the concept of the physical field to the idea of God's divine cosmic field in all of creation. In this article I proffer a physicist's viewpoint by treating the subject from a more specific and focused perspective. In particular, I describe how electromagnetic interactions underlie the operation of all earthly nature, including human beings and their brains. I argue that this ubiquity constitutes a compelling physical analogy for the ubiquity of God's indwelling. The discussion includes the (...) role of electromagnetism in quantum theory, concepts of time, and the evolution of life. I suggest the value of such analogical thought as an area of study to be exploited in the development of a theology of nature as well as a significant datum in the pursuit of a tenable natural theology. This article is intended to clarify, refine, and considerably expand upon an earlier article published in Zygon . Included also are discussions on the role of electromagnetism in our sense of evil and eternity. (shrink)
I agree with much of what is said in this article; and I also will quote Roland Barthes, but for a different purpose. But I believe that it is a mistake to judge contextualism by its theory rather than its practice. If we look carefully at what is actually done in contextualist criticism, we will find that the "contradictions in its basic premises" which trouble Wasiolek have also allowed it to overcome the limitations that a strict construction of "autonomy" would (...) impose. We will also find that what really distinguished contextualism, what the concept of autonomy leads to in practice, is not an impoverishment but a deepening and enrichment of the literary experience and, third, that the theoretical developments in other critical schools have vindicated at least one cardinal principle of contextualism, namely, that the meaning of a literary work is inherently ambivalent or indeterminate. By following the lead, we can, I believe, provide a better theoretical base for contextualism, although I am not sure that it would be or should be one that "includes the world rather than excludes it," as Wasiolek demands it. Lawrence W. Hyman professor of English at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, is the author of a book on Milton's poetry,The Quarrel Within, and articles on critical theory. He responds in this essay to Edward Wasiolek's "Wanted: A New Contextualism". Hyman has also contributed "CRITICAL RESPONSE: Harpsichord Exercises and My Lai Massacre" to Critical Inquiry. (shrink)
That there is something not altogether honest about a didactic novel can be seen once we imagine a novel which violates our political sympathies or our moral principles, such as a novel that shows the Nazis or the American soldiers at My Lai as heroes. We certainly would not like this novel. But could we refute it because of our certain knowledge that these men, in real life, were murderers? I don't think so, since a skillful writer could easily make (...) his characters act heroically in the situation—and even make us dislike their victims. Could we say that the situation is false? Perhaps, but since the actions and the characters are fictional, what does it mean to refute them? We can say that a novel is bad or unconvincing if the characters do not resemble people in real life or if the actions do not satisfy our sense of logic or probability. But these are literary objections, not political ones. And because the writer cannot be refuted by evidence from the real world, he cannot make pronouncements about this world. For example, even if there were evidence that no slave resembled Tom and no overseer resembled Legree, such evidence could not refute the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin. And as Moody Prior points out in his essay , our disagreement with the philosophy of spiritual, rather than physical resistance to slavery cannot take away the heroism of Tom's action. His final act of forgiveness is indeed Christ-like, and no philosophy of political activism which is validated by, let us say, our admiration for Tom within the novel cannot validate Tom's kind of inward action in the real world. If it did, then our admiration for Tom, a fictional character, would prelude our support for a more active resistance to oppression. But, of course, it does not, or at least it should not, if we are to see fiction as performing a different role than politics and philosophy. Lawrence W. Hyman, professor of English at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, is the author of The Quarrel Within: Art and Morality in Milton's Poetry. His previous contribution to Critical Inquiry, "The 'New Contextualism' Has Arrived: A Reply to Edward Wasiolek," appeared in the Winter 1975 issue. (shrink)
This essay, suggesting two physical phenomena that might serve as meaningful analogies to divine transcendence, is a theological complement to two earlier Zygon articles that show how the underlying ubiquity of electromagnetic phenomena in all of nature is a compelling physical analogy to divine immanence. My perception of transcendence and its relation to immanence are specified to provide a context for the discussion. A description of our being ensconced in what I term a cosmic cocoon introduces the discussion of how (...) the finite limit of the speed of light and quantum non‐locality could be considered as physical analogies of, or pointers to, God's transcendence. The relevance of our cosmologic future to transcendence is also treated. Selected examples of transcendence found in spiritual experiences and in religious scriptures are presented that complement the physical discussion. Finally, the relevance of this study to a theology of nature as well as a natural theology is examined. (shrink)