Mind, Body, World; Foundations of Cognitive Science

Written by: Michael R.W. Dawson (University of Alberta)

I can remember taking a course on cognitive science way back in the dark ages – those quaint times when there was no Internet and very few people owned a “personal” computer. Our professor had a hard time even finding a cognitive science textbook and we only used a chapter or two of it.

When it came to learning about teaching computers to think, we all quickly learned the new field was not well-represented as a unified whole. Makes sense in some ways, teaching a computer how to speak is a different skill than teaching a computer how to comprehend what is being said to them. But, cognitive science isn’t just about teaching computers to think – it covers all aspects of information processing. The disciplines of computer science, psychology, linguistics and philosophy are often at odds as to what is meant by information processing.

Cognitive Science, itself, has somewhat divided into three separate schools – classical cognitive science, connectionist cognitive science and embodied cognitive science. Micheal R.W. Dawson of Athabasca University has tried with this cognitive science textbook to provide a “big picture” overview of the discipline. He hopes to “continue the search for unification in cognitive science.” He introduces the “key ideas that serve as the foundations for each school of thought in cognitive science.”

Dawson is a professor of psychology at the University of Alberta. He has written a number of books and scientific papers about cognitive science. This cognitive science textbook was designed for senior undergraduates and graduate students as an introduction to the field. Rather than try to explain further why Dawson feels his text might be more useful to students than some of its predecessors, I’ll move on to the table of contents.

Print Version of Mind, Body, World: Foundations of Cognitive Science

Dr. Dawson has made this cognitive science textbook freely available online. However, should you wish to purchase a paperback or electronic version of his textbook; you can find it on Amazon.


Table of Contents for Mind, Body, World: Foundations of Cognitive Science

Chapter 1. The Cognitive Sciences: One or Many?
1.0 Chapter Overview
1.1 A Fragmented Psychology
1.2 A Unified Cognitive Science
1.3 Cognitive Science or the Cognitive Sciences?
1.4 Cognitive Science: Pre-paradigmatic?
1.5 A Plan of Action
Chapter 2. Multiple Levels of Investigation
2.0 Chapter Overview
2.1 Machines and Minds
2.2 From the Laws of Thought to Binary Logic
2.3 From the Formal to the Physical
2.4 Multiple Procedures and Architectures
2.5 Relays and Multiple Realizations
2.6 Multiple Levels of Investigation and Explanation
2.7 Formal Accounts of Input-Output Mappings
2.8 Behaviour by Design and by Artifact
2.9 Algorithms from Artifacts
2.10 Architectures against Homunculi
2.11 Implementing Architectures
2.12 Levelling the Field
Chapter 3. Elements of Classical Cognitive Science
3.0 Chapter Overview
3.1 Mind, Disembodied
3.2 Mechanizing the Infinite
3.3 Phrase Markers and Fractals
3.4 Behaviourism, Language, and Recursion
3.5 Underdetermination and Innateness
3.6 Physical Symbol Systems
3.7 Componentiality, Computability, and Cognition
3.8 The Intentional Stance
3.9 Structure and Process
3.10 A Classical Architecture for Cognition
3.11 Weak Equivalence and the Turing Test
3.12 Towards Strong Equivalence
3.13 The Impenetrable Architecture
3.14 Modularity of Mind
3.15 Reverse Engineering
3.16 What is Classical Cognitive Science?
Chapter 4. Elements of Connectionist Cognitive Science
4.0 Chapter Overview
4.1 Nurture versus Nature
4.2 Associations
4.3 Nonlinear Transformations
4.4 The Connectionist Sandwich
4.5 Connectionist Computations: An Overview
4.6 Beyond the Terminal Meta-postulate
4.7 What Do Output Unit Activities Represent?
4.8 Connectionist Algorithms: An Overview
4.9 Empiricism and Internal Representations
4.10 Chord Classification by a Multilayer Perceptron
4.11 Trigger Features
4.12 A Parallel Distributed Production System
4.13 Of Coarse Codes
4.14 Architectural Connectionism: An Overview
4.15 New Powers of Old Networks
4.16 Connectionist Reorientation
4.17 Perceptrons and Jazz Progressions
4.18 What Is Connectionist Cognitive Science?
Chapter 5. Elements of Embodied Cognitive Science
5.0 Chapter Overview
5.1 Abandoning Methodological Solipsism
5.2 Societal Computing
5.3 Stigmergy and Superorganisms
5.4 Embodiment, Situatedness, and Feedback
5.5 Umwelten, Affordances, and Enactive Perception
5.6 Horizontal Layers of Control
5.7 Mind in Action
5.8 The Extended Mind
5.9 The Roots of Forward Engineering
5.10 Reorientation without Representation
5.11 Robotic Moments in Social Environments
5.12 The Architecture of Mind Reading
5.13 Levels of Embodied Cognitive Science
5.14 What Is Embodied Cognitive Science?
Chapter 6. Classical Music and Cognitive Science
6.0 Chapter Overview
6.1 The Classical Nature of Classical Music
6.2 The Classical Approach to Musical Cognition
6.3 Musical Romanticism and Connectionism
6.4 The Connectionist Approach to Musical Cognition
6.5 The Embodied Nature of Modern Music
6.6 The Embodied Approach to Musical Cognition
6.7 Cognitive Science and Classical Music
Chapter 7. Marks of the Classical?
7.0 Chapter Overview
7.1 Symbols and Situations
7.2 Marks of the Classical
7.3 Centralized versus Decentralized Control
7.4 Serial versus Parallel Processing
7.5 Local versus Distributed Representations
7.6 Internal Representations
7.7 Explicit Rules versus Implicit Knowledge
7.8 The Cognitive Vocabulary
7.9 From Classical Marks to Hybrid Theories
Chapter 8. Seeing and Visualizing
8.0 Chapter Overview
8.1 The Transparency of Visual Processing
8.2 The Poverty of the Stimulus
8.3 Enrichment via Unconscious Inference
8.4 Natural Constraints
8.5 Vision, Cognition, and Visual Cognition
8.6 Indexing Objects in the World
8.7 Situation, Vision, and Action
8.8 Scaffolding the Mental Image
8.9 The Bounds of Cognition
Chapter 9. Towards a Cognitive Dialectic
9.0 Chapter Overview
9.1 Towards a Cognitive Dialectic
9.2 Psychology, Revolution, and Environment
9.3 Lessons from Natural Computation
9.4 A Cognitive Synthesis

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