p.3: What relationships hold between cognitive system, language, and culture? It seems useful to assume that all the three concepts have somehow to do with meaning - either with its creation, its communication, or human beings acting on meaning. We can assume as relatively safe starting point that meaning in its different facets is a crucial aspect of the mind, language, and culture.
p.4. : Issues in a theory of mind - A new interdisciplinary field: cognitive science.
Cognitive science makes use of the results of a variety of fields that all study the mind in their own ways. These include cognitive psychology, artificial intelligence, neuroscience, linguistics, cognitive anthropology, and several others.
p.5 : What is cognition?
The study of human cognition is concerned with certain essential issues. First and foremost among them is the nature of knowledge. Second, there is the issue of how we acquire knowledge. Third, we have the issue of how knowledge is represented in the mind.
The mind is not a unitary phenomenon on. It has many distinct aspects, traditionally called faculties of the mind:
Intentionality, attention, perception, emotions, dreams, personality.
Other important aspects of the mind include: volition, thought - thinking, memory, belief, and learning.
The traditional conception of the faculties of the mind operates with the following four aspects:
reason-thought-thinking, morality, emotion, morality, emotion, and willing-volition, language - and the question is whether language is a separate aspect, or faculty of the mind or has a special status among the rest of the faculties.
What are the basic cognitive processes that operate in the mind?
image-schematic understanding (Wiki-embodied philosophy);
force dynamics, (Wiki-force dynamics)
p.7 : What is language?
What are the crucial aspects of human language?
Should we think of it as highly structured form,especially syntactic form, or as a meaning and conceptualisation?
Is Grammar best conceived as a structured set of forms,as in syntactic rules (of the Chomskian kind), or as forms that serve the purpose only of conveying our conceptualised knowledge of the world?
Is language essentially the manipulation of abstract symbols, analogous to a computer, or is it predominantly a process devoted to the conceptualisation and communication of meaning?
In short, is language mostly a matter of form or meaning and conceptualisation?
What is meaning?
If we see the mind as largely devoted to making sense of the world, then issues of meaning inevitably arise in connection with any discussion of language and mind. Indeed, foremost among these questions is: What is the meaning?
Can we define meaning in terms of truth conditionsfor the application of particular forms (e.g. words, sentences)?
Do we know the meaning of the word snow or tree because we know the conditions on which the use of these words depends. Or, alternatively, can we identify meaning with the concepts we have in our conceptual system? Given a form (sign), how does its meaning arise?
p.8 : The objectivist view
The mind-reality relationship: The mind is a mirror of external reality. Ford mirrors an objective reality. In addition to categories of the world, there are also categories of the mind, that is conceptual categories. These correspond to categories in the world.
The mind-body relationship: In the objectivist view, thought is independent of the body. Thought is abstract,it consists of the manipulation of abstract symbols. The mind is like an abstract machine, on the analogy of a computer, that manipulates abstract symbols, where the mind is the software and the body (brain) is the hardware.
Languages is a unique and independent faculty of human beings. It is an independent module of the mind that this government by its own rules. Language is innate. We are born with a linguistic faculty that has characterisedby a set of abstract universal rules. In the study of language and thought, form (as abstract symbols and rules) is more important than meaning.
p.10 : The experientialist view
The nature of reality: Reality does not come in a pre-structured form and it is not viewed as something that exists independently of human beings. Nor does reality come in well-defined categories of the world. External reality does exist, but we have access to it only in our particularly human ways. We see categories in the world only as a result of our uniquely human experiences (through perception, interaction, etc.).
The world, for us, is a "projected" reality that human beings "imaginatively" create.
The mind reflects the world as we experience and perceive it. Thus, the categories of mind do not fit categories of the world. The world is "created"by the mind in several imaginative ways. These include such cognitive processes as categorisation based on prototypes, organising knowledge in terms of frames, and understanding experience through metaphor's.
p. 11: The nature of language: Language operates on the basis of the same principles that other cognitive faculties of the mind use. The cognitive processes of categorisation, framing knowledge, figure ground organisation, and many others are just as important in languageas another aspects of the mind.
The key component of language is not form but meaning and conceptualisation. Language serves the function of expressing meaning. In the study of language and thought, meaning is more important than form.
Meaning derives from embodiment. Thought and meaning are thus embodied.
p. 12: The world comes largely unstructured; it is human observers who do most of its structuring. A large part of the structuring is due to the linguistic system (which is a subsystem of culture). Language can shape, and according to the principle of linguistic relativity (Whorf), does shape the way we think.
Categorisation: nature of concepts - pg. 17: categorising the world
Together with many other higher-level organisms, humans are categorising beings. We categorise all objects and events we encounter in the environment. Categorisation is necessary for action, and it is essential for survival.
Knowledge organisation: frame semantics - pg. 63 frames
pg. 64: A frame is a structured mental representation of a conceptual category. The notion of "frame" is typically reserved for cases of mental representations that cannot be given as feature lists; a more comprehensive name for structured representations of conceptual categories in general, including feature lists and frames proper, would be cognitive model.
Metaphoric thought: mappings across frames - pg. 115 metaphors
Image-schemas: pg. 207 the structure of the mind: Image schemas provide an important part of our understanding of the world. Without accessible image schemas at our disposal, it is difficult to make sense of experience. This role of image schemas serves as the solution to one of the major problems in connection with linguistic expressions and symbols in general. It is called the “symbol grounding” problem.
Mental spaces: pg. 249 Mental spaces: Mappings operate not only within a single domain (metonymy) and between two domains (metaphor) but also between what are called the mental spaces – partial conceptual structures (frames or models) in the mind. With the help of mappings between mental spaces we can account for another crucial important aspect of meaning, namely, the way meaning is constructed in discourse.
Conceptual integration: Blending
Meaningful Experience: pg. 327 experience
An Account of Meaningful Experience: We make use of a relatively small number of cognitive processes in making sense of experiences. We categorise the world, organize our knowledge into frames, make use of within-frame mappings (metaphor), build image-schemas from bodily experience and apply these to what we experience, divide our experience into figures and grounds, set up mental spaces and further mappings between them in the online process of understanding, and have the ability to skillfully and creatively integrate conceptual materials from the mental spaces that is set up.
We do not do most of this in a conscious way; our cognitive system operates unconsciously most of the time. It is these and some additional cognitive processes that participate in our unconscious meaning making activity.
Meaning and Culture: pg. 335 discourse, norm, ideologies, socialisation
We can take culture to be a large set of meanings shared by a group of people. To be a member of a culture means to have the ability to make meaning with other people.
Index Origins of Language