Publication 5627

Demšar E. (2017) The circular character of the conceptual space of cognitive science: Between scientific and lived realities of the mind. . Fulltext at https://cepa.info/5627
The thesis puts forward an exploration of the relationship between two perspectives on the mind: the scientific perspective, through which the mind is described and explained by the disciplines of cognitive science, and the lived perspective, through which the mind is experienced and understood in the context of everyday life. In articulating this apparent duality of views I draw upon two influential philosophical accounts: Edmund Husserl’s (1970) investigation of the life-world and the world of science and Wilfrid Sellars’ (1963) analysis of the manifest and the scientific image of the human being in relation to the world. The presentation and juxtaposition of the two analyses opens a way to an exploration of the interdependence of science and the life-world. It also sets the stage for a critique of naturalism in mind sciences. Following Husserl, I show that the naturalistic attitude stems from forgetting that the idea of the objective scientific reality is but an abstraction from the concrete life-world of experience, value, and meaning. Surveying the conceptual space of philosophy of mind, I further challenge the naturalistic attitude by demonstrating the untenability of its metaphysical and epistemological assumptions. As I argue, naturalism amounts to a particularly inconsistent stance in studying human epistemic processes, where it must paradoxically presuppose the very aspects of the world that it set out to disclose. Concluding that cognitive science lacks absolute metaphysical or epistemological foundations, I suggest that studying the mind needs to recognize the importance of the lived perspective of being a mind. I explore the multifaceted ways in which the scientific perspective on the mind is both rooted in the life-world and shapes it in turn. I conceptualize two dimensions of this interrelatedness through the presentation of Varela et al.’s (1991) enactive approach to cognitive science and Ian Hacking’s (1995) theory of the looping of human kinds. I conclude by proposing that consistent study of mind which acknowledges the impossibility of separating the cognizing subject from her cognized world is bound to remain open to revision of its own foundations. Cognitive science is thus imbued with a demand for reflexivity towards its own theory and practice which would recognize the historical, experiential and socio-political embeddedness of its concepts as well as the role which cognitive science itself plays in shaping societal conceptions of the mind and the way in which the mind is concretely understood, experienced, lived, and acted upon in the context of everyday life.

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