Cognitivism

Cognitivism
   1) Internal Cognitive Processes are Required to Explain Intelligent Behavior
   Cognitivism in psychology and philosophy is roughly the position that intelligent behavior can (only) be explained by appeal to internal "cognitive processes." (Haugeland, 1981a, p. 243)
   2) The Cognitive Enterprise Rests on a Set of Unexamined Assumptions
   Cognitive science is an interdisciplinary effort drawing on psychology and linguistics, and philosophy. Emboldened by an apparent convergence of interests, some scientists in these fields have chosen not to reject mental functions out of hand as the behaviorists did. Instead, they have relied on the concept of mental representations and on a set of assumptions collectively called the functionalist positions. From this viewpoint, people behave according to knowledge made up of symbolic mental representations. Cognition consists of the manipulation of these symbols. Psychological phenomena are described in terms of functional processes.
   The efficacy of such processes resides in the possibility of interpreting items as symbols in an abstract and well-defined way, according to a set of unequivocal rules. Such a set of rules constitutes what is known as a syntax.
   The exercise of these syntactical rules is a form of computation. . . . Computation is assumed to be largely independent of the structure and the mode of development of the nervous system, just as a piece of computer software can run on different machines with different architectures and is thus "independent" of them. . . .
   This point of view-called cognitivism by some-has had a great vogue and has prompted a burst of psychological work of great interest and value. Accompanying it have been a set of remarkable ideas. . . . I cannot overemphasize the degree to which these ideas or their variants pervade modern science. . . . But I must also add that the cognitivist enterprise rests on a set of unexamined assumptions. One of its most curious deficiencies is that it makes only marginal reference to the biological foundations that underlie the mechanisms it purports to explain. The result is a scientific deviation as great as that of the behaviorism it has attempted to supplant. (Edelman, 1992, pp. 13-14)

Historical dictionary of quotations in cognitive science. . 2015.

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