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Human Cognition in Context: On the Biologic, Cognitive and Social Reconsideration of Meaning as Making Sense of Action

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Abstract

The aim of this special issue of IPBS has been to explore concrete and explicit alternatives to cognitivism. Indeed, in our editorial introduction we set out to give a brief survey of the numerous criticisms that have been made of understanding the mind this way (Ibáñez and Cosmelli, Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Sciences, 2008). Thus in what sense do the contributions here presented succeed in providing novel alternatives, moving into original and potentially generative domains of inquiry? While much remains to be done, we believe that they make significant headway in more than one sense. We do believe, however, that there is one locus that furnishes a convergence ground that is worth considering seriously: the problem of meaning. Meaning as making sense of contextualized action seems to cross the domains of intentionality, intersubjectivity and ecology of mind. The development of multilevel approaches, as the authors here exemplify, argues for a novel research agenda.

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Notes

  1. We use here the word “fact” as is usual in philosophy of science, as when new theories or new methodological tools make a given fact available for scrutiny as a matter of being pointed at (Lakatos 1978). For example, the neuron as a unit was not a fact until Ramon and Cajal, using Golgi’s stain redefined them so; or inversely: phlogiston in combustion, ether in light propagation or epicycles in the Ptolomean system ceased to be “facts” when the underlying theory was abandoned.

  2. This is not incompatible with a given functional description that distinguishes internal hierarchies, as seen by an (also contextualized) observer.

  3. Cf. Note no. 2.

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Acknowledgments

This paper was partially supported by Grant PKZ:A/07/71171 from DAAD to Agustin Ibanez. AI thanks Drs. Alvaro Moya and Phil Baker for their helpful criticism on an earlier version of this manuscript. Diego Cosmelli acknowledges partial support by FONDECYT project 3060094 and the PBCT-CONICYT Sensory Neuroscience Ring ACT-45.

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Cosmelli, D., Ibáñez, A. Human Cognition in Context: On the Biologic, Cognitive and Social Reconsideration of Meaning as Making Sense of Action. Integr. psych. behav. 42, 233–244 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12124-008-9060-0

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