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96 books about Cognitive Psychology & Cognition
Results by Title
96 books about Cognitive Psychology & Cognition
BiblioVault ® 2001 - 2023
The University of Chicago Press
They are tiny. They are tall. They are gray. They are green. They survey our world with enormous glowing eyes. To conduct their shocking experiments, they creep in at night to carry humans off to their spaceships. Yet there is no evidence that they exist at all. So how could anyone believe he or she was abducted by aliens? Or want to believe it?
To answer these questions, psychologist Susan Clancy interviewed and evaluated "abductees"--old and young, male and female, religious and agnostic. She listened closely to their stories--how they struggled to explain something strange in their remembered experience, how abduction seemed plausible, and how, having suspected abduction, they began to recollect it, aided by suggestion and hypnosis.
Clancy argues that abductees are sane and intelligent people who have unwittingly created vivid false memories from a toxic mix of nightmares, culturally available texts (abduction reports began only after stories of extraterrestrials appeared in films and on TV), and a powerful drive for meaning that science is unable to satisfy. For them, otherworldly terror can become a transforming, even inspiring experience. "Being abducted," writes Clancy, "may be a baptism in the new religion of this millennium." This book is not only a subtle exploration of the workings of memory, but a sensitive inquiry into the nature of belief.
Can a parrot understand complex concepts and mean what it says? Since the early 1900s, most studies on animal-human communication have focused on great apes and a few cetacean species. Birds were rarely used in similar studies on the grounds that they were merely talented mimics--that they were, after all, "birdbrains." Experiments performed primarily on pigeons in Skinner boxes demonstrated capacities inferior to those of mammals; these results were thought to reflect the capacities of all birds, despite evidence suggesting that species such as jays, crows, and parrots might be capable of more impressive cognitive feats.
Twenty years ago Irene Pepperberg set out to discover whether the results of the pigeon studies necessarily meant that other birds--particularly the large-brained, highly social parrots--were incapable of mastering complex cognitive concepts and the rudiments of referential speech. Her investigation and the bird at its center--a male Grey parrot named Alex--have since become almost as well known as their primate equivalents and no less a subject of fierce debate in the field of animal cognition. This book represents the long-awaited synthesis of the studies constituting one of the landmark experiments in modern comparative psychology.
Animal Cognition presents a clear, concise, and comprehensive overview of what we know about cognitive processes in animals. Focusing mainly on what has been learned from experimental research, Vauclair presents a wide-ranging review of studies of many kinds of animals--bees and wasps, cats and dogs, dolphins and sea otters, pigeons and titmice, baboons, chimpanzees, vervet monkeys, and Japanese macaques. He also offers a novel discussion of the ways Piaget's theory of cognitive development and Piagetian concepts may be used to develop models for the study of animal cognition.
Individual chapters review the current state of our knowledge about specific kinds of cognition in animals: tool use and spatial and temporal representations; social cognition--how animals manage their relational life and the cognitive organization that sustains social behaviors; representation, communication, and language; and imitation, self-recognition, and the theory of mind--what animals know about themselves. The book closes with Vauclair's "agenda for comparative cognition." Here he examines the relationship of the experimental approach to other fields and methods of inquiry, such as cognitive ethology and the ecological approach to species comparisons. It is here, too, that Vauclair addresses the key issue of continuity, or its absence, between animal and human cognition.
Given our still limited knowledge of cognitive systems in animals, Vauclair argues, researchers should be less concerned with the "why" question--the evolutionary or ecological explanations for differences in cognition between the species--and more concerned with the "what"--the careful work that is needed to increase our understanding of similarities and differences in cognitive processes. This thoughtful and lively book will be of great value to students of animal behavior and to anyone who desires a better understanding of humankind's relations to other living creatures.
What can the study of young monkeys and apes tell us about the minds of young humans? In this fascinating introduction to the study of primate minds, Juan Carlos Gómez identifies evolutionary resemblances—and differences—between human children and other primates. He argues that primate minds are best understood not as fixed collections of specialized cognitive capacities, but more dynamically, as a range of abilities that can surpass their original adaptations.
In a lively overview of a distinguished body of cognitive developmental research among nonhuman primates, Gómez looks at knowledge of the physical world, causal reasoning (including the chimpanzee-like errors that human children make), and the contentious subjects of ape language, theory of mind, and imitation. Attempts to teach language to chimpanzees, as well as studies of the quality of some primate vocal communication in the wild, make a powerful case that primates have a natural capacity for relatively sophisticated communication, and considerable power to learn when humans teach them.
Gómez concludes that for all cognitive psychology’s interest in perception, information processing, and reasoning, some essential functions of mental life are based on ideas that cannot be explicitly articulated. Nonhuman and human primates alike rely on implicit knowledge. Studying nonhuman primates helps us to understand this perplexing aspect of all primate minds.
Neurofeedback is a cutting-edge, drug-free therapeutic technique used by over a thousand licensed therapists in North America to treat a range of conditions from attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders to epilepsy, stroke, anxiety, migraine, and depression. First popularized in the 1970s, this naturalistic method is based on the idea that we can control our brain activity and that, through training, the brain can learn to modify its own electrical patterns for more efficient processing or to overcome various states of dysfunction.
In Biofeedback for the Brain, Dr. Paul G. Swingle describes in clear and coherent language how these procedures work. With numerous actual case examples, readers follow the progress of clients from the initial “brain map” that shows the location and severity of the neurological abnormalities to the various stages of treatment. Conditions often considered untreatable by conventional health practitioners respond positively to neurotherapeutic treatment and Swingle describes many of these remarkable recoveries. Other chapters describe the use of neurotherapy for a variety of surprising purposes, including performance training for elite athletes, of which the most famous example is the Italian soccer team who considered the technique to be their “secret weapon” in attaining a World Cup victory.
Despite wide-ranging success stories and the endorsement of the American Psychological Association, many health care practitioners remain skeptical of neurofeedback and the procedures are still not well-known by the public or conventional health care providers. This book provides a thorough, definitive, and highly readable presentation of this remarkable health care alternative that offers millions of individuals a chance for healing.
Compelling and humane, this book reveals the lives of the 300,000 child soldiers around the world, challenging stereotypes of them as predators or a lost generation. Kidnapped or lured by the promise of food, protection, revenge, or a better life, children serve not only as combatants but as porters, spies, human land mine detectors, and sexual slaves. Nearly one-third are girls, and Michael Wessells movingly reveals the particular dangers they face from pregnancy, childbirth complications, and the rejection they and their babies encounter in their local contexts.
Based mainly on participatory research and interviews with hundreds of former child soldiers worldwide, Wessells allows these ex-soldiers to speak for themselves and reveal the enormous complexity of their experiences and situations. The author argues that despite the social, moral, and psychological wounds of war, a surprising number of former child soldiers enter civilian life, and he describes the healing, livelihood, education, reconciliation, family integration, protection, and cultural supports that make it possible. A passionate call for action, Child Soldiers pushes readers to go beyond the horror stories to develop local and global strategies to stop this theft of childhood.
This book explores the strikingly similar ways in which information is encoded in nonverbal man-made signals (e.g., traffic lights and tornado sirens) and animal-evolved signals (e.g., color patterns and vocalizations). The book also considers some coding principles for reducing certain unwanted redundancies and explains how desirable redundancies enhance communication reliability.
Jack Hailman believes this work pioneers several aspects of analyzing human and animal communication. The book is the first to survey man-made signals as a class. It is also the first to compare such human-devised systems with signaling in animals by showing the highly similar ways in which the two encode information. A third innovation is generalizing principles of quantitative information theory to apply to a broad range of signaling systems. Finally, another first is distinguishing among types of redundancy and their separation into unwanted and desirable categories.
This remarkably novel book will be of interest to a wide readership. Appealing not only to specialists in semiotics, animal behavior, psychology, and allied fields but also to general readers, it serves as an introduction to animal signaling and to an important class of human communication.
“This is an important book and likely the most thoughtful of the year in the social sciences… Highly recommended, it is likely to prove one of the most thought-provoking books of the year.”—Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution
How did human minds become so different from those of other animals? What accounts for our capacity to understand the way the physical world works, to think ourselves into the minds of others, to gossip, read, tell stories about the past, and imagine the future? These questions are not new: they have been debated by philosophers, psychologists, anthropologists, evolutionists, and neurobiologists over the course of centuries. One explanation widely accepted today is that humans have special cognitive instincts. Unlike other living animal species, we are born with complicated mechanisms for reasoning about causation, reading the minds of others, copying behaviors, and using language.
Cecilia Heyes agrees that adult humans have impressive pieces of cognitive equipment. In her framing, however, these cognitive gadgets are not instincts programmed in the genes but are constructed in the course of childhood through social interaction. Cognitive gadgets are products of cultural evolution, rather than genetic evolution. At birth, the minds of human babies are only subtly different from the minds of newborn chimpanzees. We are friendlier, our attention is drawn to different things, and we have a capacity to learn and remember that outstrips the abilities of newborn chimpanzees. Yet when these subtle differences are exposed to culture-soaked human environments, they have enormous effects. They enable us to upload distinctively human ways of thinking from the social world around us.
As Cognitive Gadgets makes clear, from birth our malleable human minds can learn through culture not only what to think but how to think it.
In this groundbreaking book, Michael Tomasello presents a comprehensive usage-based theory of language acquisition. Drawing together a vast body of empirical research in cognitive science, linguistics, and developmental psychology, Tomasello demonstrates that we don’t need a self-contained “language instinct” to explain how children learn language. Their linguistic ability is interwoven with other cognitive abilities.
Tomasello argues that the essence of language is its symbolic dimension, which rests on the uniquely human ability to comprehend intention. Grammar emerges as the speakers of a language create linguistic constructions out of recurring sequences of symbols; children pick up these patterns in the buzz of words they hear around them.
All theories of language acquisition assume these fundamental skills of intention-reading and pattern-finding. Some formal linguistic theories posit a second set of acquisition processes to connect somehow with an innate universal grammar. But these extra processes, Tomasello argues, are completely unnecessary—important to save a theory but not to explain the phenomenon.
For all its empirical weaknesses, Chomskian generative grammar has ruled the linguistic world for forty years. Constructing a Language offers a compellingly argued, psychologically sound new vision for the study of language acquisition.
Ambitious and elegant, this book builds a bridge between evolutionary theory and cultural psychology. Michael Tomasello is one of the very few people to have done systematic research on the cognitive capacities of both nonhuman primates and human children. The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition identifies what the differences are, and suggests where they might have come from.
Tomasello argues that the roots of the human capacity for symbol-based culture, and the kind of psychological development that takes place within it, are based in a cluster of uniquely human cognitive capacities that emerge early in human ontogeny. These include capacities for sharing attention with other persons; for understanding that others have intentions of their own; and for imitating, not just what someone else does, but what someone else has intended to do. In his discussions of language, symbolic representation, and cognitive development, Tomasello describes with authority and ingenuity the "ratchet effect" of these capacities working over evolutionary and historical time to create the kind of cultural artifacts and settings within which each new generation of children develops. He also proposes a novel hypothesis, based on processes of social cognition and cultural evolution, about what makes the cognitive representations of humans different from those of other primates.
Lucid, erudite, and passionate, The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition will be essential reading for developmental psychology, animal behavior, and cultural psychology.
Their meeting captured headlines; the waiting list for tickets was nearly 2000 names long. If you were unable to attend, this book will take you there. Including both the papers given at the conference, and the animated discussion and debate that followed, The Dalai Lama at MIT reveals scientists and monks reaching across a cultural divide, to share insights, studies, and enduring questions.
Is there any substance to monks’ claims that meditation can provide astonishing memories for words and images? Is there any neuroscientific evidence that meditation will help you pay attention, think better, control and even eliminate negative emotions? Are Buddhists right to make compassion a fundamental human emotion, and Western scientists wrong to have neglected it?
The Dalai Lama at MIT shows scientists finding startling support for some Buddhist claims, Buddhists eager to participate in neuroscientific experiments, as well as misunderstandings and laughter. Those in white coats and those in orange robes agree that joining forces could bring new light to the study of human minds.
Why do some surprises delight—the endings of Agatha Christie novels, films like The Sixth Sense, the flash awareness that Pip’s benefactor is not (and never was!) Miss Havisham? Writing at the intersection of cognitive science and narrative pleasure, Vera Tobin explains how our brains conspire with stories to produce those revelatory plots that define a “well-made surprise.”
By tracing the prevalence of surprise endings in both literary fiction and popular literature and showing how they exploit our mental limits, Tobin upends two common beliefs. The first is cognitive science’s tendency to consider biases a form of moral weakness and failure. The second is certain critics’ presumption that surprise endings are mere shallow gimmicks. The latter is simply not true, and the former tells at best half the story. Tobin shows that building a good plot twist is a complex art that reflects a sophisticated understanding of the human mind.
Reading classic, popular, and obscure literature alongside the latest research in cognitive science, Tobin argues that a good surprise works by taking advantage of our mental limits. Elements of Surprise describes how cognitive biases, mental shortcuts, and quirks of memory conspire with stories to produce wondrous illusions, and also provides a sophisticated how-to guide for writers. In Tobin’s hands, the interactions of plot and cognition reveal the interdependencies of surprise, sympathy, and sense-making. The result is a new appreciation of the pleasures of being had.
Empirical and Experimental Methods in Cognitive/Functional Research consists of selected papers from the seventh meeting of the Conceptual Structure, Discourse, and Language Conference, held at the University of Alberta in October 2004. The papers fall into five main categories, reflecting the cognitive and functional orientation of the conference: reciprocity between lexis and syntax, semantic factors affecting form patterning, grammaticalization of basic verbs, form/meaning pairings in discourse, and experimental investigations of language/mind and language/use interactions. In addition, a plenary paper by Nick Evans on complex events, propositional overlay, and the special status of reciprocal clauses is included.
“Brilliant…Timely and necessary.” —Financial Times
“Especially timely as we struggle to make sense of how it is that individuals and communities persist in holding beliefs that have been thoroughly discredited.”
—Darren Frey, Science
If reason is what makes us human, why do we behave so irrationally? And if it is so useful, why didn’t it evolve in other animals? This groundbreaking account of the evolution of reason by two renowned cognitive scientists seeks to solve this double enigma. Reason, they argue, helps us justify our beliefs, convince others, and evaluate arguments. It makes it easier to cooperate and communicate and to live together in groups. Provocative, entertaining, and undeniably relevant, The Enigma of Reason will make many reasonable people rethink their beliefs.
“Reasonable-seeming people are often totally irrational. Rarely has this insight seemed more relevant…Still, an essential puzzle remains: How did we come to be this way?…Cognitive scientists Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber [argue that] reason developed not to enable us to solve abstract, logical problems…[but] to resolve the problems posed by living in collaborative groups.”
—Elizabeth Kolbert, New Yorker
“Turns reason’s weaknesses into strengths, arguing that its supposed flaws are actually design features that work remarkably well.”
“The best thing I have read about human reasoning. It is extremely well written, interesting, and very enjoyable to read.”
—Gilbert Harman, Princeton University
One of the world’s leading experts on mind and brain takes us on an expedition that reveals a new view of what makes us who we are.
Humans have long thought of their bodies and minds as separate spheres of existence. The body is physical—the source of aches and pains. But the mind is mental; it perceives, remembers, believes, feels, and imagines. Although modern science has largely eliminated this mind-body dualism, people still tend to imagine their minds as separate from their physical being. Even in research, the notion of the “self” as somehow distinct from the rest of the organism persists.
Joseph LeDoux argues that we have hit an epistemological wall—that ideas like the self are increasingly barriers to discovery and understanding. He offers a new framework of who we are, theorizing four realms of existence—bodily, neural, cognitive, and conscious.
The biological realm makes life possible. Hence, every living thing exists biologically. Animals, uniquely, supplement biological existence with a nervous system. This neural component enables them to control their bodies with speed and precision unseen in other forms of life. Some animals with nervous systems possess a cognitive realm, which allows the creation of internal representations of the world around them. These mental models are used to control a wide range of behaviors. Finally, the conscious realm allows its possessors to have inner experiences of, and thoughts about, the world.
Together, LeDoux shows, these four realms make humans who and what we are. They cooperate continuously and underlie our capacity to live and experience ourselves as beings with a past, present, and future. The result, LeDoux shows, is not a self but an “ensemble of being” that subsumes our entire human existence, both as individuals and as a species.
This book is an entry into the fierce current debate among psycholinguists, neuroscientists, and evolutionary theorists about the nature and origins of human language. A prominent neuroscientist here takes up the Darwinian case, using data seldom considered by psycholinguists and neurolinguists to argue that human language--though more sophisticated than all other forms of animal communication--is not a qualitatively different ability from all forms of animal communication, does not require a quantum evolutionary leap to explain it, and is not unified in a single "language instinct."
Using clinical evidence from speech-impaired patients, functional neuroimaging, and evolutionary biology to make his case, Philip Lieberman contends that human language is not a single separate module but a functional neurological system made up of many separate abilities. Language remains as it began, Lieberman argues: a device for coping with the world. But in a blow to human narcissism, he makes the case that this most remarkable human ability is a by-product of our remote reptilian ancestors' abilities to dodge hazards, seize opportunities, and live to see another day.
Despite American education’s recent mania for standardized tests, testing misses what really matters about learning: the desire to learn in the first place. Curiosity is vital, but it remains a surprisingly understudied characteristic. The Hungry Mind is a deeply researched, highly readable exploration of what curiosity is, how it can be measured, how it develops in childhood, and how it can be fostered in school.
“Engel draws on the latest social science research and incidents from her own life to understand why curiosity is nearly universal in babies, pervasive in early childhood, and less evident in school…Engel’s most important finding is that most classroom environments discourage curiosity…In an era that prizes quantifiable results, a pedagogy that privileges curiosity is not likely to be a priority.”
—Glenn C. Altschuler, Psychology Today
“Susan Engel’s The Hungry Mind, a book which engages in depth with how our interest and desire to explore the world evolves, makes a valuable contribution not only to the body of academic literature on the developmental and educational psychology of children, but also to our knowledge on why and how we learn.”
—Inez von Weitershausen, LSE Review of Books
A radical rethinking of the theory and the experience of mental images
Here, in English translation for the first time, is Gilbert Simondon’s fundamental reconception of the mental image and the theory of imagination and invention. Drawing on a vast range of mid-twentieth-century theoretical resources—from experimental psychology, cybernetics, and ethology to the phenomenological reflections of Sartre and Merleau-Ponty—Imagination and Invention provides a comprehensive account of the mental image and adds a vital new dimension to the theory of psychical individuation in Simondon’s earlier, highly influential work.
Simondon traces the development of the mental image through four phases: first a bundle of motor anticipations, the image becomes a cognitive system that mediates the organism’s relation to its milieu, then a symbolic and abstract integration of motor and affective experience to, finally, invention, a solution to a problem of life that requires the externalization of the mental image and the creation of a technical object. An image cannot be understood from the perspective of one phase alone, he argues, but only within the trajectory of its progressive metamorphosis.
"It seemed like a good idea at the time" has been the limp excuse of many a person whose actions later became cause for regret. Although we see ourselves as rational beings, we are far more likely to act according to impulse than logic. Nor is this always a bad thing, David Lewis suggests. Impulse explores all the mystifying things people do despite knowing better, from blurting out indiscretions to falling for totally incompatible romantic partners. Informed by the latest research in neuropsychology, this eye-opening account explains why snap decisions so often govern--and occasionally enrich--our lives.
Lewis investigates two kinds of thinking that occur in the brain: one slow and reflective, the other fast but prone to error. In ways we cannot control, our mental tracks switch from the first type to the second, resulting in impulsive actions. This happens in that instant when the eyes of lovers meet, when the hand reaches for a must-have product that the pocketbook can't afford, when "I really shouldn't" have another drink becomes "Oh why not?" In these moments, our rational awareness takes a back seat.
While we inevitably lose self-control on occasion, Lewis says, this can also be desirable, leading to experiences we cherish but would certainly miss if we were always logical. Less about the ideal reasoning we fail to use than the flawed reasoning we manage to get by with, Impulse proves there is more to a healthy mental life than being as coolly calculating as possible.
“A remarkable book. Whether you are an educator, parent, or simply a curious reader, you will come to see, hear, and understand children in new ways.”
—Howard Gardner, author of Multiple Intelligences
Adults easily recognize children’s imagination at work as they play. Yet most of us know little about what really goes on inside their heads as they encounter the problems and complexities of the world around them. Susan Engel brings together an extraordinary body of research to explain how toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary-aged children think.
A young girl’s bug collection reveals how children ask questions and organize information. Watching a boy scoop mud illuminates the process of invention. When a child ponders the mystery of death, we witness how ideas are built. But adults shouldn’t just stand around watching. When parents are creative, it can rub off. Engel shows how parents and teachers can stimulate children’s curiosity by presenting them with mysteries to solve, feeding their sense of mastery and nourishing their natural hunger to learn.
“A fascinating read for parents who wonder, simply, what is my child thinking? Why do they love collecting? Where did that idea come from? A celebration of children’s innovation and sense of wonder.”
—Emily Oster, author of Expecting Better
“Combining insight, scientific acumen, and exquisite narrative, The Intellectual Lives of Children allows readers to peer into the minds of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers as they explore and learn in everyday moments, emphasizing what constitutes real learning.”
—Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Science
The only way we can convey our thoughts in detail to another person is through verbal language. Does this imply that our thoughts ultimately rely on words? Is there only one way in which thoughts can occur? This ambitious book takes the contrary position, arguing that many possible "languages of thought" play different roles in the life of the mind.
"Language" is more than communication. It is also a means of representing information in both working and long-term memory. It provides a set of rules for combining and manipulating those representations.
A stellar lineup of international cognitive scientists, philosophers, and artists make the book's case that the brain is multilingual. Among topics discussed in the section on verbal languages are the learning of second languages, recovering language after brain damage, and sign language, and in the section on nonverbal languages, mental imagery, representations of motor activity, and the perception and representation of space.
An award-winning cognitive scientist offers a counterintuitive guide to cultivating imagination.
Imagination is commonly thought to be the special province of youth—the natural companion of free play and the unrestrained vistas of childhood. Then come the deadening routines and stifling regimentation of the adult world, dulling our imaginative powers. In fact, Andrew Shtulman argues, the opposite is true. Imagination is not something we inherit at birth, nor does it diminish with age. Instead, imagination grows as we do, through education and reflection.
The science of cognitive development shows that young children are wired to be imitators. When confronted with novel challenges, they struggle to think outside the box, and their creativity is rigidly constrained by what they deem probable, typical, or normal. Of course, children love to “play pretend,” but they are far more likely to simulate real life than to invent fantasy worlds of their own. And they generally prefer the mundane and the tried-and-true to the fanciful or the whimsical.
Children’s imaginations are not yet fully formed because they necessarily lack knowledge, and it is precisely knowledge of what is real that provides a foundation for contemplating what might be possible. The more we know, the farther our imaginations can roam. As Learning to Imagine demonstrates, the key to expanding the imagination is not forgetting what you know but learning something new. By building upon the examples of creative minds across diverse fields, from mathematics to religion, we can consciously develop our capacities for innovation and imagination at any age.
To most of us, learning something "the hard way" implies wasted time and effort. Good teaching, we believe, should be creatively tailored to the different learning styles of students and should use strategies that make learning easier. Make It Stick turns fashionable ideas like these on their head. Drawing on recent discoveries in cognitive psychology and other disciplines, the authors offer concrete techniques for becoming more productive learners.
Memory plays a central role in our ability to carry out complex cognitive tasks, such as applying knowledge to problems never before encountered and drawing inferences from facts already known. New insights into how memory is encoded, consolidated, and later retrieved have led to a better understanding of how we learn. Grappling with the impediments that make learning challenging leads both to more complex mastery and better retention of what was learned.
Many common study habits and practice routines turn out to be counterproductive. Underlining and highlighting, rereading, cramming, and single-minded repetition of new skills create the illusion of mastery, but gains fade quickly. More complex and durable learning come from self-testing, introducing certain difficulties in practice, waiting to re-study new material until a little forgetting has set in, and interleaving the practice of one skill or topic with another. Speaking most urgently to students, teachers, trainers, and athletes, Make It Stick will appeal to all those interested in the challenge of lifelong learning and self-improvement.
As smartphones mediate more of our activities, they are changing our relationship with meaning. To a teenager, for example a “conversation” is just as likely to refer to an exchange of text messages as it is a face-to-face discussion. Meanwhile, Facebook has redefined what friendship means, Snapchat what a memory means, etc. The kinds of changes smartphones bring are happening at rapid pace: TikTok reached a billion users in just over three years, whereas it took the telephone 75 years to reach a tenth of that number of people. Meaningful Technologies: How Digital Metaphors Change the Way We Think and Live by Eric Chown and Fernando Nascimento offers systematic reconsideration of the ways in which digital technologies impact our lives both individually and collectively.
Metaphors aren’t just a clever way to describe technology, they are also changing the way we think. When we click on a picture of a shopping cart it connects a complex set of technologies to represent a simple idea that we’re all familiar with. A heart icon under a photo is understood as an easy way to express appreciation. We aren’t required to understand how technology works, just how we interact with it. The ambiguity of metaphors, and the complexity of technology can also hide important realities about what is being described. “The cloud,” for example, actually consists of very real data centers, which consume huge amounts of natural resources to keep running. Meanwhile, pressing that heart icon on a photo is a signal to the artificial intelligences running in your app that you want to see more things like that photo and that it should adjust what it knows about you accordingly.
There is a constant feedback loop between us and the digital technologies we use. We are constantly using them and they are changing us through their usage. Meaningful Technologies focuses on this loop from the perspectives of hermeneutic philosophy and cognitive science. Through the former, the authors examine meaning and how it changes over time. Through the latter, they gain understanding of how this feedback loop impacts individuals, especially in terms of learning and attention. Chown and Nascimento argue that, on the one hand, apps have a kind of agency never before possible in a technology, but also that, armed with a critical framework for examining such apps, we can regain some of our own agency. This book will appeal to scholars of digital media digital and computational studies, and those interested in issues related to ethical impacts of digital technologies.
From an award-winning writer and linguist, a scientific and personal meditation on the phenomenon of language loss and the possibility of renewal.
As a child Julie Sedivy left Czechoslovakia for Canada, and English soon took over her life. By early adulthood she spoke Czech rarely and badly, and when her father died unexpectedly, she lost not only a beloved parent but also her firmest point of connection to her native language. As Sedivy realized, more is at stake here than the loss of language: there is also the loss of identity.
Language is an important part of adaptation to a new culture, and immigrants everywhere face pressure to assimilate. Recognizing this tension, Sedivy set out to understand the science of language loss and the potential for renewal. In Memory Speaks, she takes on the psychological and social world of multilingualism, exploring the human brain’s capacity to learn—and forget—languages at various stages of life. But while studies of multilingual experience provide resources for the teaching and preservation of languages, Sedivy finds that the challenges facing multilingual people are largely political. Countering the widespread view that linguistic pluralism splinters loyalties and communities, Sedivy argues that the struggle to remain connected to an ancestral language and culture is a site of common ground, as people from all backgrounds can recognize the crucial role of language in forming a sense of self.
Distinctive and timely, Memory Speaks combines a rich body of psychological research with a moving story at once personal and universally resonant. As citizens debate the merits of bilingual education, as the world’s less dominant languages are driven to extinction, and as many people confront the pain of language loss, this is badly needed wisdom.
This exciting compendium brings together, for the first time, some of the foremost scholars of René Girard’s mimetic theory, with leading imitation researchers from the cognitive, developmental, and neuro sciences. These chapters explore some of the major discoveries and developments concerning the foundational, yet previously overlooked, role of imitation in human life, revealing the unique theoretical links that can now be made from the neural basis of social interaction to the structure and evolution of human culture and religion. Together, mimetic scholars and imitation researchers are on the cutting edge of some of the most important breakthroughs in understanding the distinctive human capacity for both incredible acts of empathy and compassion as well as mass antipathy and violence. As a result, this interdisciplinary volume promises to help shed light on some of the most pressing and complex questions of our contemporary world.
How is life related to the mind? The question has long confounded philosophers and scientists, and it is this so-called explanatory gap between biological life and consciousness that Evan Thompson explores in Mind in Life.
Thompson draws upon sources as diverse as molecular biology, evolutionary theory, artificial life, complex systems theory, neuroscience, psychology, Continental Phenomenology, and analytic philosophy to argue that mind and life are more continuous than has previously been accepted, and that current explanations do not adequately address the myriad facets of the biology and phenomenology of mind. Where there is life, Thompson argues, there is mind: life and mind share common principles of self-organization, and the self-organizing features of mind are an enriched version of the self-organizing features of life. Rather than trying to close the explanatory gap, Thompson marshals philosophical and scientific analyses to bring unprecedented insight to the nature of life and consciousness. This synthesis of phenomenology and biology helps make Mind in Life a vital and long-awaited addition to his landmark volume The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience (coauthored with Eleanor Rosch and Francisco Varela).
Endlessly interesting and accessible, Mind in Life is a groundbreaking addition to the fields of the theory of the mind, life science, and phenomenology.
Our subjective inner life is what really matters to us as human beings--and yet we know relatively little about how it arises. Over a long and distinguished career Benjamin Libet has conducted experiments that have helped us see, in clear and concrete ways, how the brain produces conscious awareness. For the first time, Libet gives his own account of these experiments and their importance for our understanding of consciousness.
Most notably, Libet's experiments reveal a substantial delay--the "mind time" of the title--before any awareness affects how we view our mental activities. If all conscious awarenesses are preceded by unconscious processes, as Libet observes, we are forced to conclude that unconscious processes initiate our conscious experiences. Freely voluntary acts are found to be initiated unconsciously before an awareness of wanting to act--a discovery with profound ramifications for our understanding of free will.
How do the physical activities of billions of cerebral nerve cells give rise to an integrated conscious subjective awareness? How can the subjective mind affect or control voluntary actions? Libet considers these questions, as well as the implications of his discoveries for the nature of the soul, the identity of the person, and the relation of the non-physical subjective mind to the physical brain that produces it. Rendered in clear, accessible language, Libet's experiments and theories will allow interested amateurs and experts alike to share the experience of the extraordinary discoveries made in the practical study of consciousness.
The bombing of Pearl Harbor, the assassination of President Kennedy, the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger: every generation has unforgettable events, the shared memory of which can create fleeting intimacy among strangers. These public memories, combined with poignant personal moments--the first day of college, a baseball game with one's father, praise from a mentor--are the critical shaping events of individual lives.
Although experimental memory studies have long been part of empirical psychology, and psychotherapy has focused on repressed or traumatizing memories, relatively little attention has been paid to the inspiring, touching, amusing, or revealing moments that highlight most lives. What makes something unforgettable? How do we learn to share the significance of memories?
David Pillemer's research, brought together in this gracefully written book, extends the current study of narrative and specific memory. Drawing on a variety of evidence and methods--cognitive and developmental psychology, cross-cultural study, psychotherapy case studies, autobiographies and diaries--Pillemer elaborates on five themes: the function of memory; how children learn to construct and share personal memories; memory as a complex interactive system of image, emotion, and narrative; individual and group differences in memory function and performance; and how unique events linger in memory and influence lives. A provocative last chapter, full of striking examples, considers potential variations in memory across gender, culture, and personality. Momentous Events, Vivid Memories is itself a compelling and memorable book.
The human mind is an unlikely evolutionary adaptation. How did humans acquire cognitive capacities far more powerful than anything a hunting-and-gathering primate needed to survive? Alfred Russel Wallace, co-founder with Darwin of evolutionary theory, saw humans as "divine exceptions" to natural selection. Darwin thought use of language might have shaped our sophisticated brains, but his hypothesis remained an intriguing guess--until now. Combining state-of-the-art research with forty years of writing and thinking about language evolution, Derek Bickerton convincingly resolves a crucial problem that both biology and the cognitive sciences have hitherto ignored or evaded.
What evolved first was neither language nor intelligence--merely normal animal communication plus displacement. That was enough to break restrictions on both thought and communication that bound all other animals. The brain self-organized to store and automatically process its new input, words. But words, which are inextricably linked to the concepts they represent, had to be accessible to consciousness. The inevitable consequence was a cognitive engine able to voluntarily merge both thoughts and words into meaningful combinations. Only in a third phase could language emerge, as humans began to tinker with a medium that, when used for communication, was adequate for speakers but suboptimal for hearers.
Starting from humankind's remotest past, More than Nature Needs transcends nativist thesis and empiricist antithesis by presenting a revolutionary synthesis--one that instead of merely repeating "nature and nurture" clichés shows specifically and in a principled manner how and why the synthesis came about.
A sweeping exploration of the relationship between the language we speak and our perception of such fundamentals of experience as time, space, color, and smells.
We tend to assume that all languages categorize ideas and objects similarly, reflecting our common human experience. But this isn’t the case. When we look closely, we find that many basic concepts are not universal, and that speakers of different languages literally see and think about the world differently.
Caleb Everett takes readers around the globe, explaining what linguistic diversity tells us about human culture, overturning conventional wisdom along the way. For instance, though it may seem that everybody refers to time in spatial terms—in English, for example, we speak of time “passing us by”—speakers of the Amazonian language Tupi Kawahib never do. In fact, Tupi Kawahib has no word for “time” at all. And while it has long been understood that languages categorize colors based on those that speakers regularly encounter, evidence suggests that the color words we have at our disposal affect how we discriminate colors themselves: a rose may not appear as rosy by any other name. What’s more, the terms available to us even determine the range of smells we can identify. European languages tend to have just a few abstract odor words, like “floral” or “stinky,” whereas Indigenous languages often have well over a dozen.
Why do some cultures talk anthropocentrically about things being to one’s “left” or “right,” while others use geocentric words like “east” and “west”? What is the connection between what we eat and the sounds we make? A Myriad of Tongues answers these and other questions, yielding profound insights into the fundamentals of human communication and experience.
Winner of the Eleanor Maccoby Book Award in Developmental Psychology, American Psychological Association
Winner of a PROSE Award, Association of American Publishers
Shortlist, Cognitive Development Society Book Award
A Choice Outstanding Academic Title of the Year
A Natural History of Human Morality offers the most detailed account to date of the evolution of human moral psychology. Based on extensive experimental data comparing great apes and human children, Michael Tomasello reconstructs how early humans gradually became an ultra-cooperative and, eventually, a moral species.
“Tomasello is convincing, above all, because he has run many of the relevant studies (on chimps, bonobos and children) himself. He concludes by emphasizing the powerful influence of broad cultural groups on modern humans… Tomasello also makes an endearing guide, appearing happily amazed that morality exists at all.”
—Michael Bond, New Scientist
“Most evolutionary theories picture humans as amoral ‘monads’ motivated by self-interest. Tomasello presents an innovative and well-researched, hypothesized natural history of two key evolutionary steps leading to full-blown morality.”
—S. A. Mason, Choice
A Wall Street Journal Favorite Read of the Year
A Guardian Top Science Book of the Year
Tool-making or culture, language or religious belief: ever since Darwin, thinkers have struggled to identify what fundamentally differentiates human beings from other animals. In this much-anticipated book, Michael Tomasello weaves his twenty years of comparative studies of humans and great apes into a compelling argument that cooperative social interaction is the key to our cognitive uniqueness. Once our ancestors learned to put their heads together with others to pursue shared goals, humankind was on an evolutionary path all its own.
“Michael Tomasello is one of the few psychologists to have conducted intensive research on both human children and chimpanzees, and A Natural History of Human Thinking reflects not only the insights enabled by such cross-species comparisons but also the wisdom of a researcher who appreciates the need for asking questions whose answers generate biological insight. His book helps us to understand the differences, as well as the similarities, between human brains and other brains.”
—David P. Barash, Wall Street Journal
“A fascinating book.”
—James Ryerson, New York Times Book Review
A Smithsonian Best Science Book of the Year
Winner of the PROSE Award for Best Book in Language & Linguistics
Carved into our past and woven into our present, numbers shape our perceptions of the world far more than we think. In this sweeping account of how the invention of numbers sparked a revolution in human thought and culture, Caleb Everett draws on new discoveries in psychology, anthropology, and linguistics to reveal the many things made possible by numbers, from the concept of time to writing, agriculture, and commerce.
Numbers are a tool, like the wheel, developed and refined over millennia. They allow us to grasp quantities precisely, but recent research confirms that they are not innate—and without numbers, we could not fully grasp quantities greater than three. Everett considers the number systems that have developed in different societies as he shares insights from his fascinating work with indigenous Amazonians.
“This is bold, heady stuff… The breadth of research Everett covers is impressive, and allows him to develop a narrative that is both global and compelling… Numbers is eye-opening, even eye-popping.”
“A powerful and convincing case for Everett’s main thesis: that numbers are neither natural nor innate to humans.”
—Wall Street Journal
Out of Mind makes a compelling case for understanding narrative forms and cognitive-scientific frameworks as co-emergent and cross-pollinating. To this end, Ghosal harnesses narrative theory, multimodality studies, cognitive sciences, and disability studies to track competing perspectives on remembering, reading, and sense of place and self. Through new readings of the works of Kamila Shamsie, Aleksandar Hemon, Mark Haddon, Lance Olsen, Steve Tomasula, Jonathan Safran Foer, and others, Out of Mind generates unique insights into literary imagination’s influence on how we think and perceive amid twenty-first-century social, technological, and environmental changes.
A Behavioral Scientist Notable Book of the Year
A Guardian “Best Book about Ideas” of the Year
No one likes to be bored. Two leading psychologists explain what causes boredom and how to listen to what it is telling you, so you can live a more engaged life.
We avoid boredom at all costs. It makes us feel restless and agitated. Desperate for something to do, we play games on our phones, retie our shoes, or even count ceiling tiles. And if we escape it this time, eventually it will strike again. But what if we listened to boredom instead of banishing it?
Psychologists James Danckert and John Eastwood contend that boredom isn’t bad for us. It’s just that we do a bad job of heeding its guidance. When we’re bored, our minds are telling us that whatever we are doing isn’t working—we’re failing to satisfy our basic psychological need to be engaged and effective. Too many of us respond poorly. We become prone to accidents, risky activities, loneliness, and ennui, and we waste ever more time on technological distractions. But, Danckert and Eastwood argue, we can let boredom have the opposite effect, motivating the change we need. The latest research suggests that an adaptive approach to boredom will help us avoid its troubling effects and, through its reminder to become aware and involved, might lead us to live fuller lives.
Out of My Skull combines scientific findings with everyday observations to explain an experience we’d like to ignore, but from which we have a lot to learn. Boredom evolved to help us. It’s time we gave it a chance.
Most human thinking is thoroughly informed by context but, until recently, theories of reasoning have concentrated on abstract rules and generalities that make no reference to this crucial factor. Perspectives on Contexts brings together essays from leading cognitive scientists to forge a vigorous interdisciplinary understanding of the contextual phenomenon. Applicable to human and machine cognition in philosophy, artificial intelligence, and psychology, this volume is essential to the current renaissance in thinking about context.
Is literacy a social and cultural practice, or a set of cognitive skills to be learned and applied? Literacy researchers, who have differed sharply on this question, will welcome this book, which is the first to address the critical divide. The authors lucidly explain how we develop our abilities to read and write and offer a unified theory of literacy development that places cognitive development within a sociocultural context of literacy practices. Drawing on research that reveals connections between literacy as it is practiced outside of school and as it is taught in school, the authors argue that students learn to read and write through the knowledge and skills that they bring with them to the classroom as well as from the ways that literacy is practiced in their own different social communities.
The authors argue that until literacy development can be understood in this broader way educators will never be able to develop truly effective literacy instruction for the broad range of sociocultural communities served by schools.
Readers once believed in Proust’s madeleine and in Wordsworth’s recollections of his boyhood—but that was before literary culture began to defer to Freud’s questioning of adult memories of childhood. In this first sustained look at childhood memories as depicted in literature, Lorna Martens reveals how much we may have lost by turning our attention the other way. Her work opens a new perspective on early recollection—how it works, why it is valuable, and how shifts in our understanding are reflected in both scientific and literary writings.
Science plays an important role in The Promise of Memory, which is squarely situated at the intersection of literature and psychology. Psychologists have made important discoveries about when childhood memories most often form, and what form they most often take. These findings resonate throughout the literary works of the three writers who are the focus of Martens’ book. Proust and Rilke, writing in the modernist period before Freudian theory penetrated literary culture, offer original answers to questions such as “Why do writers consider it important to remember childhood? What kinds of things do they remember? What do their memories tell us?” In Walter Benjamin, Martens finds a writer willing to grapple with Freud, and one whose writings on childhood capture that struggle.
For all three authors, places and things figure prominently in the workings of memory. Connections between memory and materiality suggest new ways of understanding not just childhood recollection but also the artistic inclination, which draws on a childlike way of seeing: object-focused, imaginative, and emotionally intense.
The concept of "psychological tools" is a cornerstone of L. S. Vygotsky's sociocultural theory of cognitive development. Psychological tools are the symbolic cultural artifacts--signs, symbols, texts, formulae, and most fundamentally, language--that enable us to master psychological functions like memory, perception, and attention in ways appropriate to our cultures. In this lucid book, Alex Kozulin argues that the concept offers a useful way to analyze cross-cultural differences in thought and to develop practical strategies for educating immigrant children from widely different cultures.
Kozulin begins by offering an overview of Vygotsky's theory, which argues that consciousness arises from communication as civilization transforms "natural" psychological functions into "cultural" ones. He also compares sociocultural theory to other innovative approaches to learning, cognitive education in particular. And in a vivid case study, the author describes his work with recent Ethiopian immigrants to Israel, whose traditional modes of learning were oral and imitative, and who consequently proved to be quick at learning conversational Hebrew, but who struggled with the reading, writing, and formal problem solving required by a Western classroom. Last, Kozulin develops Vygotsky's concept of psychological tools to promote literature as a useful tool in cognitive development.
With its explication of Vygotsky's theory, its case study of sociocultural pedagogy, and its suggested use of literary text for cognitive development, Psychological Tools will be of considerable interest to research psychologists and educators alike.
In our high-speed culture, terms like "stressed-out," "Type-A personality," "biofeedback," and "relaxation response" have become commonplaces. More than ever before, we are aware of the relationship between our mental and emotional states and our physical well-being. Findings from the field of psychophysiology, which investigates the reflexive interaction between psychology and physiology, have revised our approach to illness and its prevention and treatment. We know, for example, that stress, combined with other factors, increases vulnerability to heart attack and stroke. Successful treatment must include lifestyle changes to reduce the effects of stress on the body.
In this important text, Kenneth Hugdahl presents a comprehensive introduction to the history, methods, and applications of psychophysiology and explores other areas concerned with the "mind-body interface," such as psychosomatic medicine, behavioral medicine, clinical psychology, psychiatry, neuropsychology, and cognitive neuroscience. By showing how social, behavioral, cognitive, and emotional events are mirrored in physiological processes, he gives us a clearer understanding of complex cognitive processes.
This book illustrates psychophysiology's importance as a research and clinical tool and highlights its many contributions to the assessment and diagnosis of physical disorders. It also provides a framework for extending psychophysiological insights to other areas of psychology and neuroscience.
Anderson investigates how viewers, with their mental capacities designed for survival, respond to particular aspects of filmic structure—continuity, diegesis, character development, and narrative—and examines the ways in which rules of visual and aural processing are recognized and exploited by filmmakers. He uses Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane to disassemble and redefine the contemporary concept of character identification; he addresses continuity in a shot-by-shot analysis of images from Casablanca; and he uses a wide range of research studies, such as Harry F. Harlow’s work with infant rhesus monkeys, to describe how motion pictures become a substitute or surrogate reality for an audience. By examining the human capacity for play and the inherent potential for illusion, Anderson considers the reasons viewers find movies so enthralling, so emotionally powerful, and so remarkably real.
This book proposes a new science of self-control based on the principles of behavioral psychology and economics. Claiming that insight and self-knowledge are insufficient for controlling one's behavior, Howard Rachlin argues that the only way to achieve such control--and ultimately happiness--is through the development of harmonious patterns of behavior.
Most personal problems with self-control arise because people have difficulty delaying immediate gratification for a better future reward. The alcoholic prefers to drink now. If she is feeling good, a drink will make her feel better. If she is feeling bad, a drink will make her feel better. The problem is that drinking will eventually make her feel worse. This sequence--the consistent choice of a highly valued particular act (such as having a drink or a smoke) that leads to a low-valued pattern of acts--is called "the primrose path."
To avoid it, the author presents a strategy of "soft commitment," consisting of the development of valuable patterns of behavior that bridge over individual temptations. He also proposes, from economics, the concept of the substitutability of "positive addictions," such as social activity or exercise, for "negative addictions," such as drug abuse or overeating.
Self-control may be seen as the interaction with one's own future self. Howard Rachlin shows that indeed the value of the whole--of one's whole life--is far greater than the sum of the values of its individual parts.
"Know thyself," a precept as old as Socrates, is still good advice. But is introspection the best path to self-knowledge? What are we trying to discover, anyway? In an eye-opening tour of the unconscious, as contemporary psychological science has redefined it, Timothy D. Wilson introduces us to a hidden mental world of judgments, feelings, and motives that introspection may never show us.
This is not your psychoanalyst's unconscious. The adaptive unconscious that empirical psychology has revealed, and that Wilson describes, is much more than a repository of primitive drives and conflict-ridden memories. It is a set of pervasive, sophisticated mental processes that size up our worlds, set goals, and initiate action, all while we are consciously thinking about something else.
If we don't know ourselves—our potentials, feelings, or motives—it is most often, Wilson tells us, because we have developed a plausible story about ourselves that is out of touch with our adaptive unconscious. Citing evidence that too much introspection can actually do damage, Wilson makes the case for better ways of discovering our unconscious selves. If you want to know who you are or what you feel or what you're like, Wilson advises, pay attention to what you actually do and what other people think about you. Showing us an unconscious more powerful than Freud's, and even more pervasive in our daily life, Strangers to Ourselves marks a revolution in how we know ourselves.
Many philosophers believe they can gain knowledge about the world from the comfort of their armchairs, simply by reflecting on the nature of things. But how can the mind arrive at substantive knowledge of the world without seeking its input? Michael Strevens proposes an original defense of the armchair pursuit of philosophical knowledge, focusing on “the method of cases,” in which judgments about category membership—Does this count as causation? Does that count as the right action to take?—are used to test philosophical hypotheses about such matters as causality, moral responsibility, and beauty.
Strevens argues that the method of cases is capable of producing reliable, substantial knowledge. His strategy is to compare concepts of philosophical things to concepts of natural kinds, such as water. Philosophical concepts, like natural kind concepts, do not contain the answers to philosophers’ questions; armchair philosophy therefore cannot be conceptual analysis. But just as natural kind concepts provide a viable starting point for exploring the nature of the material world, so philosophical concepts are capable of launching and sustaining fruitful inquiry into philosophical matters, using the method of cases. Agonizing about unusual “edge cases,” Strevens shows, can play a leading role in such discoveries.
Thinking Off Your Feet seeks to reshape current debates about the nature of philosophical thinking and the methodological implications of experimental philosophy, to make significant contributions to the cognitive science of concepts, and to restore philosophy to its traditional position as an essential part of the human quest for knowledge.
In this forcefully argued book, the leading evolutionary theorist of language draws on evidence from evolutionary biology, genetics, physical anthropology, anatomy, and neuroscience, to provide a framework for studying the evolution of human language and cognition.
Philip Lieberman argues forcibly that the widely influential theories of language's development, advanced by Chomskian linguists and cognitive scientists, especially those that postulate a single dedicated language "module," "organ," or "instinct," are inconsistent with principles and findings of evolutionary biology and neuroscience. He argues that the human neural system in its totality is the basis for the human language ability, for it requires the coordination of neural circuits that regulate motor control with memory and higher cognitive functions. Pointing out that articulate speech is a remarkably efficient means of conveying information, Lieberman also highlights the adaptive significance of the human tongue.
Fully human language involves the species-specific anatomy of speech, together with the neural capacity for thought and movement. In Lieberman's iconoclastic Darwinian view, the human language ability is the confluence of a succession of separate evolutionary developments, jury-rigged by natural selection to work together for an evolutionarily unique ability.
If children were little scientists who learn best through firsthand observations and mini-experiments, as conventional wisdom holds, how would a child discover that the earth is round—never mind conceive of heaven as a place someone might go after death? Overturning both cognitive and commonplace theories about how children learn, Trusting What You’re Told begins by reminding us of a basic truth: Most of what we know we learned from others.
Children recognize early on that other people are an excellent source of information. And so they ask questions. But youngsters are also remarkably discriminating as they weigh the responses they elicit. And how much they trust what they are told has a lot to do with their assessment of its source. Trusting What You’re Told opens a window into the moral reasoning of elementary school vegetarians, the preschooler’s ability to distinguish historical narrative from fiction, and the six-year-old’s nuanced stance toward magic: skeptical, while still open to miracles. Paul Harris shares striking cross-cultural findings, too, such as that children in religious communities in rural Central America resemble Bostonian children in being more confident about the existence of germs and oxygen than they are about souls and God.
We are biologically designed to learn from one another, Harris demonstrates, and this greediness for explanation marks a key difference between human beings and our primate cousins. Even Kanzi, a genius among bonobos, never uses his keyboard to ask for information: he only asks for treats.
Tychomancy—meaning “the divination of chances”—presents a set of rules for inferring the physical probabilities of outcomes from the causal or dynamic properties of the systems that produce them. Probabilities revealed by the rules are wide-ranging: they include the probability of getting a 5 on a die roll, the probability distributions found in statistical physics, and the probabilities that underlie many prima facie judgments about fitness in evolutionary biology.
Michael Strevens makes three claims about the rules. First, they are reliable. Second, they are known, though not fully consciously, to all human beings: they constitute a key part of the physical intuition that allows us to navigate around the world safely in the absence of formal scientific knowledge. Third, they have played a crucial but unrecognized role in several major scientific innovations.
A large part of Tychomancy is devoted to this historical role for probability inference rules. Strevens first analyzes James Clerk Maxwell’s extraordinary, apparently a priori, deduction of the molecular velocity distribution in gases, which launched statistical physics. Maxwell did not derive his distribution from logic alone, Strevens proposes, but rather from probabilistic knowledge common to all human beings, even infants as young as six months old. Strevens then turns to Darwin’s theory of natural selection, the statistics of measurement, and the creation of models of complex systems, contending in each case that these elements of science could not have emerged when or how they did without the ability to “eyeball” the values of physical probabilities.
Indian movies are among the most popular in the world. However, despite increased availability and study, these films remain misunderstood and underappreciated in much of the English-speaking world, in part for cultural reasons.
In this book, Patrick Colm Hogan sets out through close analysis and explication of culturally particular information about Indian history, Hindu metaphysics, Islamic spirituality, Sanskrit aesthetics, and other Indian traditions to provide necessary cultural contexts for understanding Indian films. Hogan analyzes eleven important films, using them as the focus to explore the topics of plot, theme, emotion, sound, and visual style in Indian cinema. These films draw on a wide range of South Asian cultural traditions and are representative of the greater whole of Indian cinema. By learning to interpret these examples with the tools Hogan provides, the reader will be able to take these skills and apply them to other Indian films.
But this study is not simply culturalist. Hogan also takes up key principles from cognitive neuroscience to illustrate that all cultures share perceptual, cognitive, and emotional elements that, when properly interpreted, can help to bridge gaps between seemingly disparate societies. Hogan locates the specificity of Indian culture in relation to human universals, and illustrates this cultural-cognitive synthesis through his detailed interpretations of these films. This book will help both scholars and general readers to better understand and appreciate Indian cinema.
The world shows up for us—it is present in our thought and perception. But, as Alva Noë contends in his latest exploration of the problem of consciousness, it doesn’t show up for free. The world is not simply available; it is achieved rather than given. As with a painting in a gallery, the world has no meaning—no presence to be experienced—apart from our able engagement with it. We must show up, too, and bring along what knowledge and skills we’ve cultivated. This means that education, skills acquisition, and technology can expand the world’s availability to us and transform our consciousness.
Although deeply philosophical, Varieties of Presence is nurtured by collaboration with scientists and artists. Cognitive science, dance, and performance art as well as Kant and Wittgenstein inform this literary and personal work of scholarship intended no less for artists and art theorists, psychologists, cognitive scientists, and anthropologists than for philosophers.
Noë rejects the traditional representational theory of mind and its companion internalism, dismissing outright the notion that conceptual knowledge is radically distinct from other forms of practical ability or know-how. For him, perceptual presence and thought presence are species of the same genus. Both are varieties of exploration through which we achieve contact with the world. Forceful reflections on the nature of understanding, as well as substantial examination of the perceptual experience of pictures and what they depict or model are included in this far-ranging discussion.
Using cinema to explore the visual aspects of alterity, Randall Halle analyzes how we become cognizant of each other and how we perceive and judge another person in a visual field. Halle draws on insights from philosophy and recent developments in cognitive and neuroscience to argue that there is no pure "natural" sight. We always see in a particular way, from a particular vantage point, and through a specific apparatus, and Halle shows how human beings have used cinema to experiment with the apparatus of seeing for over a century. Visual alterity goes beyond seeing difference to being conscious of how one sees difference. Investigating the process allows us to move from mere perception to apperception, or conscious perception.
Innovative and insightful, Visual Alterity merges film theory with philosophy and cutting-edge science to propose new ways of perceiving and knowing.
Margaret A. Syverson discusses the ways in which a theory of composing situations as ecological systems might productively be applied in composition studies. She demonstrates not only how new research in cognitive science and complex systems can inform composition studies but also how composing situations can provide fruitful ground for research in cognitive science.
Syverson first introduces theories of complex systems currently studied in diverse disciplines. She describes complex systems as adaptive, self-organizing, and dynamic; neither utterly chaotic nor entirely ordered, these systems exist on the boundary between order and chaos. Ecological systems are "metasystems" composed of interrelated complex systems. Writers, readers, and texts, together with their environments, constitute one kind of ecological system.
Four attributes of complex systems provide a theoretical framework for this study: distribution, embodiment, emergence, and enaction. Three case studies provide evidence for the application of these concepts: an analysis of a passage from an autobiographical poem by Charles Reznikoff, a study of first-year college students writing collaboratively, and a conflict in a computer forum of social scientists during the Gulf War. The diversity of these cases tests the robustness of theories of distributed cognition and complex systems and suggests possibilities for wider application.
A Washington Post Book of the Year
“Makes a powerful argument for building, as early as possible, the ability to stand up for what's right in the face of peer pressure, corrupt authority, and even family apathy.”
Why do so few of us intervene when we’re needed—and what would it take to make us step up? We are bombarded every day by reports of bad behavior, from the school yard to the boardroom to the halls of Congress. It’s tempting to blame bad acts on bad people, but sometimes good people do bad things. A social psychologist who has done pioneering research on student behavior on college campuses, Catherine Sanderson points to many ways in which our faulty assumptions about what other people think can paralyze us. Moral courage, it turns out, is not innate. But you can train yourself to stand up for what you believe in, and even small acts can make a big difference. Inspiring and potentially life transforming, Why We Act reveals that while the urge to do nothing is deeply ingrained, even the most hesitant would-be bystander can learn to be a moral rebel.
“From bullying on the playground to sexual harassment in the workplace, perfectly nice people often do perfectly awful things. But why? In this thoughtful and beautifully written book, Sanderson shows how basic principles of social psychology explain such behavior—and how they can be used to change it. A smart and practical guide to becoming a better and braver version of ourselves.”
—Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness
“Encouraged me to persevere through many moments when it felt far easier to stop trying.”
“Points to steps all of us can take to become ‘moral rebels’ whose voices can change society for the better.”
—Walter V. Robinson, former editor of the Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team
“Sanderson offers sound advice on how we can become better at doing what we know is right.”
—George Conway, cofounder of The Lincoln Project
Katherine Nelson re-centers developmental psychology with a revived emphasis on development and change, rather than foundations and continuity. She argues that children be seen not as scientists but as members of a community of minds, striving not only to make sense, but also to share meanings with others.
A child is always part of a social world, yet the child's experience is private. So, Nelson argues, we must study children in the context of the relationships, interactive language, and culture of their everyday lives.
Nelson draws philosophically from pragmatism and phenomenology, and empirically from a range of developmental research. Skeptical of work that focuses on presumed innate abilities and the close fit of child and adult forms of cognition, her dynamic framework takes into account whole systems developing over time, presenting a coherent account of social, cognitive, and linguistic development in the first five years of life.
Nelson argues that a child's entrance into the community of minds is a slow, gradual process with enormous consequences for child development, and the adults that they become. Original, deeply scholarly, and trenchant, Young Minds in Social Worlds will inspire a new generation of developmental psychologists.
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