Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The connections....

In reading the remaining chapters 7-11 of The Embodied Mind, I found that the connectionist model we have been discussing in previous weeks (with Strauss and Quinn and Shore) and now this text has shown me how much our minds work within this realm. It seems we are building toward this aspect with each week. I think the selection of texts that Syverson has selected for us at first seemed unconnected to me, but now I am starting to connect the dots. Has anyone else felt this experience as well?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the second half of the book and I thought that Varela, Thompson and Rosch made an effective argument in demonstrating how much cognition and human experience could be tied together. Despite the discussion of nihilism in the last chapter, I found this text to be inspiring and enlightening as to how we (as future researchers and scholars) in social science can approach the world of science, research and learning. I thought the Buddhist philosophy that they referred to in the text was very helpful in getting across their perspective of groundlessness and the egoless self. I am not quite sure how else the authors could have argued their perspective without this approach. The additional appendices at the end of the book on Buddhist concepts were a nice recap as well.

Another aspect to this text I enjoyed was how the authors presented their 3 research questions of what is cognition, how does it work and how do I know it’s a cognitive system throughout the book from the standpoint of cognitivism, emergence and enactive. I found it to be a consistent structure of keeping the main questions in mind throughout the book and effective in synthesizing the gradual transition from one concept to the other. I wish more authors took this exact approach in their research studies.

I would like to pull out one piece in the text that I really felt made the light bulb go off in my mind as to the embodied mind was on page 205, “As we can now appreciate, to situate cognition as embodied action within the context of evolution as natural drift provides a view of cognitive capacities as inextricably linked to histories that are lived, much like paths that exist only as they are laid down in walking….instead, cognition in its most encompassing sense consists in the enactment or bringing forth of a world by a viable history of structural coupling.” This aspect as it is discussed throughout the book but particularly in Chapter 9 helped me to further understand the notion of the ecological or ecosystem perspective to cognition that Syverson has mentioned in previous classes. From what I could understand, we can view our minds from this standpoint of an overall actor in our lives that moves in and out of situations daily and lays pathways that later connect and encompass an existence that is reliant on the world around it and vice versa.

As it relates to technology and text, I was thinking about this aspect of the embodied mind and how this can directly translate to the concept of the World Wide Web. The Web is a connection. A connection of our contributions via computer technology around the world and these connections rely on each other to multiply, grow and die as hypertext. It’s through our participation in the pathways (pages) of the Web that our contributions are made. The Web could be considered an ecosystem of minds on a digital platform. Did anyone else see a connection to technology in this same light?


Blogger mdl said...

Hi there, I liked your link between the web and concepts in the book. I too had a few lightbulb moments with the text, and I appreciated how conscientiously the authors laid out guideposts for us. I don't think I've ever read a book so abstract that was so readable. I had lunch with my mother today, and found it almost impossible to relate these concepts to her in a lucid way. Poor thing, I think I bored her to death.

3:15 PM  

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