Guenther, Chapter 1

Guenther opens Human Cognition (1998) with an historical overview of the terrain he’s looking to traverse in his book. The first, introductory chapter, he notes, is mean to serve as “a discussion of the important events in our history that brought about the transition from the predominantly supernatural perspective that characterized the cosmology of medieval Europe to the natural perspective on human mental life that characterizes the cosmology of our modem culture” (p. 1). We arrive at the view of cognitive science most easily recognized and readily accepted today by way of other theories of the mind (that Guenther undoes one by one)—spiritual, mechanistic, behavioralist and, finally, computerized. Guenther spends the bulk of this chapter addressing the problems in applying a computer metaphor to human cognition, though he explains the several ways (in 1998) in which neural nets may have some significant potential for thinking about our thinking. Guenther concludes by making an argument against those who would say that the materialistic approaches accepted by many today are, ultimately, dehumanizing.

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