Publication 5666

Strle T. (2018) Looping minds: How cognitive science exerts influence on its findings. Interdisciplinary Description of Complex Systems 16(4): 533–544. Fulltext at
Drawing on the distinction between natural and human kinds, I will discuss the looping effects of human kinds through the lens of contemporary cognitive (neuro)science. I will try to show that cognitive science is mainly in the business of investigating, understanding and explaining human kinds. As new conceptualisations of the human mind, agency and our nature are being created (by, for instance, neuroscience), they open up the possibility for new, different understandings of what it means to be a human being. This, I will argue, can change how people think and behave and thus change the very phenomena cognitive science investigates. Consequently, cognitive science can affect its very (future) findings. This holds especially true when society embraces new conceptualisations of the human mind and new ways of self-understanding become part and parcel of social discourse, activities, and/or structures. The quest for understanding the human mind, I will claim, is a looping journey, where what we “discover” about the human mind is inherently dependent on how we, as human beings, understand ourselves; and how we understand ourselves is, to a certain degree, dependent on how science understands us and on how we interpret what it has to say about our nature. At the end of the article, this will lead me to consider cognitive science as an intrinsically ethical endeavour.


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