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Cognitive Science, Literature, and the Arts: A Guide for Humanists 1st Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0415942447
ISBN-10: 0415942446
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Cognitive Science, Literature, and the Arts provides a much needed critical introduction to the cognitive study of the verbal, visual, and musical arts, basing its claims on the methods and findings of mainstream cognitive science. Written with authority, verve, and above all clarity, Hogan's exciting new book will prove an indispensable guide for those new to the field and a provocative and challenging overview for those already engaged in cognitive criticism and theory." Alan Richardson, Professor of English, Boston College and author of British Romanticism and the Science of the Mind

About the Author

Patrick Colm Hogan is Professor of English and Comparative literature at the University of Connecticut.His many books include The Culture of Conformism, Philosophical Approaches to the Study of Literature, Colonialism and Cultural Identity, and The Politics of Interpretation.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (July 3, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415942446
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415942447
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,484,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Contemporary thinkers frequently lament the difficulty in finding materials that strengthen foundations for cross-disciplinary communication. This book is a welcome exception. A quite readable book, the volume will prove to be a useful tool for those who wish to participate in and contribute to a research program that combines humanities and cognitive science.

The interactive feel of the book makes it appealing without compromising its value in explaining scientific concepts. As I read the book, I kept thinking that it would be an effective text in a classroom, where students from the various fields could directly engage with the scientific studies, access the artistic works used to reference artistic concepts (e.g., James Cameron's Titanic, John Coltrane's rendition of My Favorite Things, and Shakespeare's King Lear), and flush out areas that receive little treatment in the text, such as visual art. In this kind of environment, I believe, the whole would prove to be greater than the parts.

Although aimed primarily at humanists, scientists interested in cross-fertilization will find much to chew on in this volume. To the author's credit, he successfully provides background material readers can use to participate in and contribute to a research program in cognitive science and literature either individually or collaboratively. His most successful achievement is the integration of the literature of cognitive science with arts that have a strong story line. The entry into music is adequate, while visual arts remain on the periphery of the study.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an important book on an important subject. Hogan's purpose here is to introduce the humanities reader to the ways and insights of cognitive science and to summarize some of the attempts to apply those ways and insights to literature and the arts. This is an activity that is long overdue. The growth in knowledge of the human brain and human cognition has been as dramatic as the distance from that knowledge exhibited by studies within the humanities, which have often been more interested in `theorizing' science in postmodern ways than in joining with scientists to understand the humanities in more scientific ways.

While this effort is of enormous importance, it is at a very preliminary stage. For one thing, the actual functioning of the brain is so sophisticated and complex that many descriptions of cognitive processes are more metaphoric than conventionally `scientific'. That does not mean that they are not systematic or thoughtful. Rather, they depict the processes of cognition in terms that are far more simple than what is clearly going on. It is no surprise that Kant is key to their procedures, for the Kantian model of a human observer trying to bridge an unbridgeable gulf, constrained by decidedly `human' equipment but nevertheless attaining useful knowledge, is much in evidence here.

Given the `metaphoric' nature of this knowledge, it should come as no surprise that its conclusions often square with those of thinkers whose methods and materials predate those of cognitive science. For example, Hogan's interesting discussion about creativity involving both novelty and aptness squares precisely with Samuel Johnson's demands for novelty and what we would term something like `faithfulness to the realities of human psychology'.
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