What unites all of humanity?
Our cognitive structure unites all of humanity.
What is our cognitive structure?
SGCS (Second Generation Cognitive Science) has developed empirical evidence to support a revolutionary new comprehension of human cognition. These three major findings of a second generation of cognitive science are:
The mind is inherently embodied.
Thought is moistly unconscious.
Abstract concepts are largely metaphorical.
Taken together, in a gestalt understanding of human cognition, “these three findings from the science of the mind are inconsistent with central parts of Western philosophy”.
Our comprehension of cognition is of fundamental importance to our comprehension of our self and of the world that we inhabit. Our most basic beliefs are tied directly to our comprehension of human reason. “Reason has been taken for over two millennia as the defining characteristic of human beings. Reason includes not only our capacity for logical inference, but also our ability to conduct inquiry, to solve problems, to evaluate, to criticize, to deliberate about how we should act, and to reach an understanding of ourselves.”
The mind is inherently embodied
We have in our Western philosophy a traditional theory of faculty psychology wherein our reasoning is a faculty completely separate from the body. “Reason is seen as independent of perception and bodily movement.” It is this capacity of autonomous reason that makes us different in kind from all other animals. I suspect that many fundamental aspects of philosophy and psychology are focused upon declaring, whenever possible, the separateness of our species from all other animals.
This tradition of an autonomous reason began long before evolutionary theory and has held strongly since then without consideration, it seems to me, of the theories of Darwin and of biological science. Cognitive science has in the last three decades developed considerable empirical evidence supporting Darwin and not supporting the traditional theories of philosophy and psychology regarding the autonomy of reason. Cognitive science has focused a great deal of empirical science toward discovering the nature of the embodied mind.
“These findings of cognitive science are profoundly disquieting [for traditional thinking] in two respects. First, they tell us that human reason is a form of animal reason, a reason inextricably tied to our bodies and the peculiarities of our brains. Second, these results tell us that our bodies, brains, and interactions with our environment provide the mostly unconscious basis for our everyday metaphysics, that is, our sense of what is real...That is to say that the sensorimotor system in the human body can perform the functions required to conceptualize and, infer from those conceptions, in a manner required by human cognition. The logical assumption is that these self same sensorimotor neural networks are the networks the body uses to conceptualize during cognition.”
Thought is mostly unconscious
In the 1970s a new body of empirical research began to introduce findings that questioned the traditional Anglo-American cognitive paradigm of AI (Artificial Intelligence), i.e. symbol manipulation.
This research indicates that the neurological structures associated with sensorimotor activity are mapped directly to the higher cortical brain structures to form the foundation for subjective conceptualization in the human brain. In other words, our abstract ideas are constructed with copies of sensorimotor neurological structures as a foundation. “It is the rules of thumb among cognitive scientists that unconscious thought is 95 percent of all thought—and that may be a serious underestimate.”
Abstract concepts are largely metaphorical
Human reason is an extension of animal reason. The sensorimotor system in the human body can perform the functions required to conceptualize and to infer, i.e. the system controlling bodily movements and perception are theorized to be the same that is used for reasoning and that much of what we thing comes from the unconscious. That which comes from the unconscious has been conceptualized based upon our bodily interaction with the world. We have an embodied mind and the failure to recognize that fact is the primary difference
We constantly make subjective judgments regarding abstract things, such as morality, difficulty, importance; we also have subjective experiences such as affection, desire, and achievement.
The manner in which we reason, and visualize about these matters comes from other domains of experience. “These other domains are mostly sensorimotor domains…as when we conceptualize understanding an idea (subjective experience) in terms of grasping an object (sensorimotor experience)…The cognitive mechanism for such conceptualizations is conceptual metaphor, which allows us to use the physical logic of grasping to reason about understanding.”
Metaphor is pervasive throughout thought and language. Primary metaphors might properly be considered to be the fundamental building blocks for our thinking and our communication through language.
“The integrated theory –the four parts together—has an overwhelming implication: We acquire a large system of primary metaphors automatically and unconsciously simply by functioning in the most ordinary of ways in the everyday world from our earliest days…we all naturally think using hundreds of primary metaphors.”
In summation, we have many hundreds of primary metaphors, which together provide a rich inferential structure, imagery, and qualitative feel. These primary metaphors permit our sensorimotor experiences to be used to create subjective experiences. Thus abstract ideas are created that are grounded in everyday experiences.
In modern society new human science theories take generations to seep into the social consciousness. However, new natural science theories are quickly accepted or rejected; when accepted they can immediately impact the world in which we live.
Darwin informs us that the species that is unable to adapt adequately to the changing environment will quickly becomes toast.
Can our civilization, with such a disparity of innovative conditioning, long survive?
Quotes from Philosophy in the Flesh by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson