Mind, Body, World: Foundations of Cognitive Science
Michael Dawson, University of Alberta
Pub Date: 2013
ISBN 13: 978-1-9273561-7-3
Publisher: Athabasca University Press
Conditions of Use
The text covers a broad swath of intellectual history in the development of the Cognitive Sciences - beginning with the Greeks and discussing read more
The text covers a broad swath of intellectual history in the development of the Cognitive Sciences - beginning with the Greeks and discussing developments as recent as 2010. The discussion interweaves perspectives from linguistics, philosophy and psychology, showing the driving influence in recent years of computer science in their development - in a way that allows the reader to better understand the interrelationships between these various approaches to the study of cognition.
As a linguist, I feel myself only competent to judge the accuracy of the author's discussion of linguistic theory. The discussion of Chomskyan linguistics appears to me to be accurate, if not hugely detailed or complete. As a discussion of linguistics by a non-linguist, the text is very good. The presentation of linguistic theory includes X-bar theory and the Principles and Parameters approach, all of which is somewhat dated - but, in my opinion, good background for non-linguists and beginning students of linguistics.
As noted above, the linguistic theory presented in the book is not terribly current, but I don't see that as a problem for students who are using the text as background/history on the cognitive sciences,
The writing is crisp and clear, and very readable. Jargon and technical terminology is defined adequately, and used effectively thereafter.
I found no problems with the book's consistency.
The chapter breakdown of the text makes sense, and seems like it would lend itself well to modular presentation. The chapters are substantial, and the sections within them are also pretty meaty - this would not lend itself to very short reading assignments, but would serve students well as a background text that could be used to situate their current research.
The organization of the text is clear and effective.
The text is a plain pdf, and the images within it all look fine. No problems with the interface at all.
I found no grammatical, spelling or typographical errors at all.
The text focuses on a strand of intellectual history that is not particularly inclusive - it is very much a story of Western academic tradition, told in a way that does not reach out to other intellectual traditions. This is a fact about the Cognitive Sciences, and so it's not surprising (or necessarily bad) that the text is situated in that particular tradition. Within that universe, the author does a very good job of integrating many academic disciplines, including those that are deeply at odds with each other, in a way that is respectful and (to the best of my knowledge) quite well-informed about each. In that way, the text is inclusive and respectful.
If I were assigned to teach an advanced undergraduate course introductory to Cognitive Science, or a beginning graduate level course on that topic, I would not hesitate to adopt this as a primary text. The text assumes a level of interest and scholarly experience from the reader that I think would not be appropriate for a lower-division undergraduate course (at least not at my institution). I would consider adopting this as a supplementary (recommended) text for classes at other levels, and I will be keeping it on my virtual bookshelf as a reference about the intellectual history of the Cognitive Sciences. I learned a lot from reading it!
The book is extremely comprehensive. The history and evolution of the specific field of cognitive science, especially as it relates to read more
The book is extremely comprehensive. The history and evolution of the specific field of cognitive science, especially as it relates to information processing is examined here. The field fragmented into three differing views of this notion of cognition and the author delves deeply into how the separation developed and the meaning of each of the different frameworks for cognitive science. Cognitive science is related to many different areas of science and research which is well explained by the author. This author further examines the relationship between the theoretical bases for each view and the current state of each area, concluding that the three views may someday come together but it hasn't happened yet. The final conclusion being that the classical framework for cognitive science is "the thesis" while the connectionist and embodied cognitive science frameworks are "viable antitheses". The author has firmly developed the groundwork for this reasonable conclusion.
The content is accurate and the background offered for each cognitive processing area discussed is detailed and appropriate. Each area is well cited and referenced.
The content is relevant to a small population of people and the content is up to date as of now. The nature of this textbook, which is to present a historical overview of how cognitive science has gotten to where it is today, will help push the literature in this area on. Thus, this evolving subject matter may quickly morph past the conclusions made by the author. As the literature expands the detailed explanation of the historical account should continue to be relevant while the conclusions and suppositions will likely become out of date. Only time will tell.
The text is very well organized 10/10 and fairly readable 6/10. In my opinion the amount of detail and frequent use of long quotes tends to bog down the reader and diminish the flow of the text. Also I found the authors frequent use of parenthetical phrases more disruptive than helpful. Dawson's writing style is wordy and it seems like the concepts discussed could be described more succinctly. Some of the chapters become difficult to get through. Psychology is replete with jargon, and this area is no different. Dawson does provide solid contextual background for the terminology used here and explains the history of the terms used in detail.
The book is well thought out and consistent. The terminology is carefully considered, well referenced and explained thoroughly. Three differing frameworks are detailed and used consistently throughout the textbook.
The organization of the textbook is well thought out and easy to follow. Also there is strong logic behind the outline followed in this textbook. It starts out as simply a chronological account of the concept of cognitive science, and then draws comparisons between the frameworks. The different chapters on the different viewpoints could be broken into modules and studies independently. The relevance of each makes more sense when taken in the full context however.
Organization: excellent. Structure of the overall argument: excellent. Flow: slow moving, less than optimal.
The display features used in this textbook are done well, they are easy to see and understand. Most of them add detail and support the notions that the author is using to describe certain notions. A few of them seem a bit frivolous and perhaps unnecessary, but as mentioned before simply a lot of detail included here.
Technically I found no grammatical errors in this textbook. My problem with the grammar in this textbook is the use of weak connectors. If the authors searched on "It is" hundreds of these phases would pop up. Most of these phrases begin sentences. Likewise excessive use of the phrases "this is" "that is" "there are" weaken the discussion and lengthen the text. Here is an example from Chapter 9, page 419. "However, it is again fair to say that the contributions of world, body, and mind receive different degrees of emphasis within the three approaches to cognitive science." This sentence could simply be reworded to state "Again, the contributions of world, body, and mind receive different degrees of emphasis within the three approaches to cognitive science" if indeed that needed to be restated at all. The excessive wordiness of the additional prepositions occurs throughout the book. The content could be written more succinctly.
There are no culturally offensive references anywhere in this textbook. The references used are not hypothetical they represent actual researchers who have created the frameworks discussed, thus race and ethnicity are not an issue.
This textbook has a place in the clarification of the cognitive science field and of course the subsequent education of all involved. The place is quite specific to upper division psychology students and instructors interested in this specific area. However, this area does contribute and relate to many different areas of research including Neuroscience, Education, Sociology, Linguistics and others.
Table of Contents
- Chapter 1. The Cognitive Sciences: One or Many?
- Chapter 2. Multiple Levels of Investigation
- Chapter 3. Elements of Classical Cognitive Science
- Chapter 4. Elements of Connectionist Cognitive Science
- Chapter 5. Elements of Embodied Cognitive Science
- Chapter 6. Classical Music and Cognitive Science
- Chapter 7. Marks of the Classical?
- Chapter 8. Seeing and Visualizing
- Chapter 9. Towards a Cognitive Dialectic
About the Book
Cognitive science arose in the 1950s when it became apparent that a number of disciplines, including psychology, computer science, linguistics, and philosophy, were fragmenting. Perhaps owing to the field’s immediate origins in cybernetics, as well as to the foundational assumption that cognition is information processing, cognitive science initially seemed more unified than psychology. However, as a result of differing interpretations of the foundational assumption and dramatically divergent views of the meaning of the term information processing, three separate schools emerged: classical cognitive science, connectionist cognitive science, and embodied cognitive science.
Examples, cases, and research findings taken from the wide range of phenomena studied by cognitive scientists effectively explain and explore the relationship among the three perspectives. Intended to introduce both graduate and senior undergraduate students to the foundations of cognitive science, Mind, Body, World addresses a number of questions currently being asked by those practicing in the field: What are the core assumptions of the three different schools? What are the relationships between these different sets of core assumptions? Is there only one cognitive science, or are there many different cognitive sciences? Giving the schools equal treatment and displaying a broad and deep understanding of the field, Dawson highlights the fundamental tensions and lines of fragmentation that exist among the schools and provides a refreshing and unifying framework for students of cognitive science.
About the Contributors
Michael R. W. Dawson is a professor of psychology at the University of Alberta. He is the author of numerous scientific papers as well as the books Understanding Cognitive Science (1998), Minds and Machines (2004), Connectionism: A Hands-on Approach (2005), and From Bricks to Brains: The Embodied Cognitive Science of LEGO Robots (2010).