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The Cambridge Handbook of Cognitive Science Paperback – July 19, 2012
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"In this admirable new volume, editors Frankish and Ramsey offer readers of all academic backgrounds an overview of the theoretical landscape of emerging fields of inquiry known collectively as cognitive science ... It allows readers to grasp current areas of cognitive research and to further their understanding of the philosophical issues that surround them ... Recommended ..."
R. K. Rowe, Choice
"Many of the papers will serve as ideal introductions to their given domains and, taken collectively, readers will be given a broad grounding in this fascinating area of study."
Sam Clarke, Philosophical Psychology
A philosophical analysis of cognitive science, which is an enterprise devoted to understanding the nature of the mind, spanning several other disciplines such as psychology, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence. The volume surveys the foundational issues, the principal areas of research, and the major research programs.
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I found it a little bit difficult to read. Some parts I needed to read more slowly and carefully. Cognitive science is still a field of knowledge that is not entirely unified and coherent. Its is in its infancy. We are far from fully understanding how the brain and mind works, despite the progress made. This book describes some theories that have been developed throughout history to the present, on cognitive processes in the brain/mind: memory, learning, perception, action, decision making, language, emotion, consciousness .
My final thought is that there are too much to investigate further, to integrate many different theories into a coherent and unified theory of mind. This book is a good reference on the state of the art in cognitive science (mostly philosophical), and the exciting and challenging interdisciplinary research, going on, and still to carry out
Level of abstraction is the important consideration in a book like this: is it accessible to non-scientist readers or does it oversimplify complicated matters? The Cambridge Handbook succeeds very well on this count. It is definitely not an easy book to read. It bears slow and careful attention, with time between topics to reflect and absorb what has gone before, but a lay reader of either philosophy or other facets of cognitive science will be able to follow the argument and benefit from the concise summaries of complicated topics which it provides.
The chapters are written by experts who are for the most part prominent in their fields of study. Many are philosophers but an anthropologist is included as are a quantitative analyst, a neuroscientist and a computer scientist, and several psychologists represented among the authors, each writing on their own area of expertise and research. Only one of them have I read before -Ray Jackendorf on language acquisition and use. It was interesting for me to read these articles because most of my reading has been about either computer simulation or applied brain research. Although I was aware that philosophy was part of the mix of disciplines adding to our understanding of cognitive issues, I knew little of what philosophers had written on these themes.
As to its layout, the book is presented in three sections: foundations (historical overview and core themes; separate entries on the representational theory of the mind and cognitive architectures -the latter is especially helpful); aspects of cognition (from perception through emotion and consciousness); and research programs.
The articles run roughly twenty pages each and are organized by headings and subheadings for easy reference. Each includes a bibliography of the references used in the article and suggestions for further reading. They seem to this reader to be scrupulously fair in presenting different views in their fields: it's quite helpful for an amateur like me who is trying to keep up with a field of vast importance for us but one which is also highly technical and rapidly changing. One theme that runs through several of the entries in the hope that sometime in the not too distant future, a unifying theory will be found to bridge rule-derived and connectionist theories of, for instance, language acquisition, and to bring closer the insights yielded by computer simulations and the study of the brain.