Cognitive Regularities 1

My work on the cognitive foundations of mind is guided by the underlying intuition that the study of the mind is at a stage similar to chemistry in the late nineteenth century – on the one hand large amounts of new data are being collected that point to underlying principles, and on the other hand conceptual problems are being raised about the relationship between the mind and other natural entities. As we know now, chemistry was incompatible with nineteenth century physics; it took the quantum mechanical revolution to bring chemistry and mechanics into one theoretical structure. I believe the same is true of the study of the mind now.
A tremendous amount of new data is being generated from neuroscience and cognitive science experiments as well related social science disciplines like economics. One can think of the new data as the counterparts of chemical reactions; we are getting a sense for what happens when two mental entities interact with each other. However, at the same time, conceptual problems (such as that of intentionality and consciousness) are being raised about how to reconcile these phenomena with what we know of the physical world. I believe that regularity theory is a good lens through which we can view these new developments in the mind sciences; these notes are a first attempt to summarise past work and lay out a research agenda.

To push the analogy between chemistry and the mind sciences further, while we are not ready for the full fledged ‘quantum mechanics of the mind’, I do think we are ready for the Plank and Bohr model of the mind sciences, i.e., a halfway stage that integrates both the experimental and the conceptual problems into one framework. These notes are an introduction to a regularities approach to cognition with the intent of grounding knowledge itself in cognition, in the spirit of the classical Indian pramana theorists.


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