Wednesday, October 19, 2005

using cognitive science as a "way in"

The Embodied Mind seems to be using cognitive science as a way to talk about mindfulness/awareness. That is, I wonder if this book is even really about cognitive science at all? Clearly, it gives us a review of the field and then a new way of thinking about this debate. The study case of color is a really intersting one. But unlike some of the other books we've read this book doesn't give us a number of different applications of the theory.

I raise this issue not because I think the book is bunk. I'm very interested in the connections between Buddhist philosophy and phenomenology, and this book really got me thinking about the ethics of postmodern theory/thought. However, I'm wondering how this book was received by thos in cognitive science. I seem to remember Peg saying that it was kind of dismissed, and I wonder if that dismissal is a function of the broad scope of the book. If my hunch that this book is more about western thought than cognitive science is correct, I'm not all that surprised that the field of cognitive science didn't really "deal" with this book. The refusal to even deal with this book is most likely because it raises really hard questions and messes with some fundamental assumptions. However, beyond that, I'm wondering if there would have been a way for Verala et. al. to come at their audience differently? Would more studies like the color example have helped?

3 Comments:

Blogger mdl said...

Hiya Jim--I'm interested to hear more about what you're thinking about in terms of the "ethics of poststructural theory/thought." I know it's an issue that used to generate much talk (or, perhaps ranting?). How did this book evoke this for you?

3:07 PM  
Blogger Alison said...

Jim,
I see what you mean about whether or not this book is really about cognitive science - clearly this IS for the authors and perhaps the field just went into "GRASPING" when these ideas were proposed. I don't think I ever truly had a handle on what Cognitive Science is or should be so I was free to 'birth' this philosophical and theoretical challenge they call cognitive science.

5:20 PM  
Blogger gt said...

Jim, you got me thinking: if this book was dismissed by Cognitive Science, might it not be due to the critique that the only available stance open to Western science is nihilism and the authors' solution to nihilism is Budhism?
I can see where plenty of scientists might object to that critique and Varela et al's solution.

3:30 PM  

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