What happened to cognitive science?
Nuñez et al. (2019) analyzed the state of cognitive science using four methods: two were bibliometric and two were socio-institutional. They concluded that the field of cognitive science has "lost impetus, focus and recognition" (p. 782). At the end they propose that following Miller (2003) and others that "cognitive sciences" may be a better term for the field in its present state.
Two years ago when I revised this course I noted that psychology had become the dominant disciplinary force in cognitive science (CS). So, in my redesign I put a brief introduction to psychology first and followed that with similar modules on biology, language & linguistics, philosophy, computer science, and social science (sociology, anthropology, and economics). The idea was to provide students with enough background in the "founding disciplines" (see below) of CS.
Earlier, I had moved the course into a more applied format so the remainder of the course focused on the following topics and, in all instances, looked at the portions of those topics that were closest to CS. Those topics are; vision, interfaces, E-commerce, language, hypermedia & multimedia, usability, and encryption and privacy.
Let's now look at the article in some depth:
- Cognitive Science's (CS) original disciplines:
- Psychology, Philosophy, Linguistics, Anthropology, Neuroscience, Computer Science
- Nuñez et al. write that cognitive science: (p. 782)
- "lost impetus, focus, and recognition"
- That quote is really the point of the article
- CS definitions
- Simon and Kaplan (1993, p. 1) BTW, I have used this definition on my CS page for a long time
- "the study of intelligence and intelligent systems with particular reference to intelligent behavior as computation"
- Since then many new view of CS have cropped up:
- Parallel Distributive Processing
- Distribute Cognition
- Embodied Cognition
- Enactive Cognition
- We will discuss some of these later. We already looked at embodied cognition, remember? It's in the introduction
- Nuñez et al.'s Data and Analysis (pp. 784-787)
- They used two types of data
- Bibliometric (using journal Cognitive Science)
- Author affiliations-what colleges or universities?
- Journal citations-who else was reading the articles?
- PhD degree of authors-what was author's PhD training subject?
- CS curricula (graduate and undergraduate)-was author part of a CS degree-granting program?
- Data and Conclusions (pp. 787-788)
- Nearly no authors from anthropology and philosophy
- "The prospect launched by the cognitive revolution of a unified and coherent interdisciplinary seamless cognitive science did not materialize."
- "the field has been essentially absorbed by psychology"
- "neuroscientists choose to publish outside of cognitive science journals"
- cognitive science is "the textbook case of failed interdisciplinarity and disappearance."
- the word cognition is now ambiguous, it can mean:
- information processing psychology
- a marriage between psychology and AI but excluding neuroscienc
- other meanings include: (and, typically NOT considered CS)
- thought, reasoning, and language
- "cognitive linguistics" is an alternative to Chomsky's views and an issue within linguistics and not to CS as a whole
- The Cognitive Science Society has made contributions from anthropologists and biologists less likely due to its 2017 call for papers
- Cognitive Science or Cognitive Sciences? (pp. 788-789)
- George Miller (2003, p. 144)
- "For myself, I prefer to speak of cognitive sciences, in the plural." (Notice how that statement reflects our course outline.)
- Unsuccessful research program or consensus
- Socio-institutional data, "show a substantial lack of consensus across universities and colleges on what the curriculum is or should be when it come to granting a degree in cognitive science." (p. 789)
- "The cognitive revolution was largely a normative anti-behaviourist counter revolution" (p. 789)
Me again: By now you should see why I ended up structuring the course the way I did. I need you to have, at least, some passing knowledge of the foundational disciplines of CS. But, at the same time you need to understand that the original intent of CS has not been realized. Instead, CS has become psychology heavy, AI heavy, and practical. It is what it is.
FYI, one of your essay questions on Test 1 will come from this article.
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