Embodied cognitive science and the study of literature.
COGNITIVE SCIENCE IS THE study of everything that involves thought, including conscious and nonconscious activities of the brain, emotion and sentiment, and all related ideas. It is a great interdisciplinary research effort that came together in the 1950s and 1960s, grew to maturity in the 1970s and 1980s, and now is often considered the most exciting approach to all things human. This brief overview is designed specifically for humanist literary scholars. It is divided into eight sections: I) the origins of cognitive science: cognitivism, the artificial-intelligence approach to cognition; 2) contextualism, the embodied approach to cognition; 3) language; 4) evolution; 5) brain; 6) mind; 7) the literary mind; and 8) contemporary cognitive approaches to the study of literature. (1) To a large extent, it is an argument for a way of understanding all literary activities that is radically different from the ways most literary scholars have been thinking for the last half-century. As for neuroscience and our understanding of the human mind-brain, I think it is fair to say that we have learned more in the last quarter of a century than we did in all of previous history.
Owing to limits of space, the approach here is schematic and allusive. Only occasionally do I cite a work in some detail; mostly I refer the reader to the list, consisting mostly of books rather than articles or essays, of works cited. This list, long as it is, is by no means intend ed to be exhaustive, but merely a starting point for further sustained investigation.
I. COGNITIVISM AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
Growing out of the post-World War II cybernetics movement, reacting against the black box and blank slate approach of behaviorism, and inspired by the early promise of the new field of computing and artificial intelligence, much of the early emphasis on cognitive research was on the mind as computer. The stance taken was one of "functionalism": it does not matter what the physical form of something is, the only thing that counts is how it functions. With regard to thought, it makes no difference if the cognizing entity is a carbon-based animal or a silicone-based machine; they both function in the same way. Intelligence could be either natural (biological) or artificial (computational); it made no difference at all.
The syllogism of functionalism goes something like this: I) intelligence is the human ability to think logically; 2) logic consists of decontextualized symbol manipulation; 3) computers manipulate symbols out of context; therefore, 4) computers are intelligent. Cognition was discussed in terms of discrete bits of information, Boolean reasoning, representation, symbol manipulation, coding and decoding, information processing, the standard history of the early days of cognitive science can be found in Howard Gardner's 7be Mind's New Science. Stan Franklin's Artificial Minds is an outstanding history of artificial intelligence; and John Haugeland's collection, Mind Design II, reproduces some classic papers. (2) Although there are still many cognitive scientists who continue to believe in the mind-as-machine metaphor, literary studies has little, if anything, to gain from this orientation. Humanist literary scholars should, I think, work within a very different paradigm: that of embodied cognition.
2. CONTEXTUALISM AND EMBODIED COGNITION
Three things happened that inspired a radically different approach to cognition. First, the shortcomings of the cognitivist approach became increasingly apparent. Second, neuroscience achieved maturity as a field of study, and it soon became clear that the brain did not function at all like a computer. And third, a new concept of evolution and biology came to the fore. Although I will return to the subjects of evolution and the biology of the brain below, I want to begin with the third element.
Two Chilean neurobiologists, Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela--beginning with their work on cell development and regeneration--developed the concept of "autopoiesis": the inseparable ongoing relationships among mind, brain, body, and context (physical, temporal, and social). In contrast to most traditional work in biology, Maturana and Varela contextualize the organism within its environment. The result of this contextualization, they propose, is the need for the autopoietic (i.e., self-organizing or self-making) organism to "bring forth" its cognitive world, to create its own pragmatic understanding of its relation to external reality. Thus, cognition becomes self-defining action: "All doing # knowing, and all knowing # doing"; "to live is to know (living is effective action in existence as a living being)" (Tree of Knowledge 26, 174; original emphasis). (3)
An animal, unlike a machine, is an "autopoietic system" in the sense that "it pulls itself up by its own bootstraps and becomes distinct from its environment through its own dynamics, in such a way that both things are inseparable" (Tree of Knowledge 46-47); it exists in specific contexts of time and space. This space-time (recall Mikhail Bakhtin's "chronotope") organism-environment inseparability comes about by means of a process Maturana and Varela call "structural coupling," the result of "recurrent interactions leading to the structural congruence between two (or more) systems" (75). For human beings, everything we do is part of "a world brought forth in coexistence with other people" (239). Maturana and Varela obviate the validity of any subject-object, mind-body, self-other, or nature-nurture dualism by insisting that knowledge is "enactive," that "human cognition as effective action pertains to the biological domain, but it is always lived in a cultural tradition [...] for cognition is effective action; and as we know how we know, we bring forth ourselves" (244). In the words of neuroscientist Ira B. Black:
Biology becomes behavior, and behavior becomes biology. Indeed, biology is behavior, and behavior is biology. Environmental or internal exigencies drive the locus and are translated into biologic reality. Thoughts or environmental situations provoking anxiety are immediately translated into neural language. Environmental stimulus, mental state, behavior, and molecular mechanisms are in constant interplay, forming an unbroken, continuous cycle. (167)
It is of particular interest to Hispanists, and especially to Cervantes scholars, to note that Maturana has described how he coined the term that became central to his and Varela's work:
It was in these circumstances that one day, while talking with a friend (Jose Bulnes) about an essay of his on Don Quixote de la Mancha, in which he analyzed Don Quixote's dilemma of whether to follow the path of arms (praxis, action) or the path of letters (poiesis, creation, production), and his eventual choice of the path of praxis deferring any attempt at poiesis, I understood for the first time the power of the word 'poiesis' and invented the word that we needed: autopoiesis. This was a word without a history, a word that could directly mean what takes place in the dynamics of the autonomy proper to living systems. (Autopoiesis and Cognition xvii)
Meanwhile, Varela says he was inspired to use the term "enaction" after reading the famous "Proverbios y cantares XXIX" by Antonio Machado that begins "Caminante, son tus huellas / el camino, y nada mas; / caminante, no hay camino, / se hace camino al andar" ("Laying Down a Path" 63). It is interesting that both Maturana (with Don Quixote) and Varela (with Machado) found part of the inspiration for their biological theories in Spanish literature.
Often working independently from Maturana and Varela and their colleagues, a large number of philosophers, biologists, psychologists, and linguists have all reached the same conclusion: there is no thought without a body; all cognition is embodied. (4) Important here is the idea of systems theory: Animals are not machines, but systems, complex interrelated biological organisms that function in context and are in a constant process of (autopoietically) adapting to and dealing with that context. (5) Human cognition (like all thought by all animals) has nothing to do with computation, information processing, mere symbol processing, or any of the other essentials of cognitivist thought. It takes place in the activities of a brain that forms part of a body that exists only within specific contexts. It is for this reason that I like to use the over-arching concept of contextualism for embodied cognition. The idea of contextualism had its origin in the work of American pragmatist philosopher Steven Pepper, and has been used as a basic approach to psychology by Diane Gillespie, whose introduction to the field of cognitive psychology is the one that I recommend most highly to humanist scholars. The single most important idea to have come from the cognitive sciences is that all intelligence, all thought, is embodied.
Ever since the pioneering work of Noam Chomsky, it has become clear that language exists only within the mind-brains of individuals. Language is a function of biology. We do not learn a language; it grows within us. Still, only when a child is raised in isolation from any normal social context does a human being not have language. Thus, just as language is a function of biology, it is equally a function of social context. Language, as Chomsky has often written, is not an independent social entity, but a matter of individual biology and psychology. Since Chomsky, much work in the study of linguistics throughout the world has been carried out in ways that continue Chomsky's work. Two important linguists who represent the best of this ongoing Chomskyan tradition are Steven Pinker and Ray Jackendoff. (6)
The field of cognitive linguistics deals "with human concepts as the basis of meaning, rather than with truth-conditions as the basis of meaning; with the role of conventional imagery in cognition and language; with figuration in thought and speech; and with grammar as symbolic phenomenon" (Turner, Reading 20-21). Cognitive linguistics blends the study of fundamental cognitive processes with the study of language proper. The foundational work in this field is usually considered to be George Lakoff and Mark Johnson's Metaphors We Live By. (7) Pragmatics is the study of language in context. Pragmatics recognizes that the creative and sympathetic understanding of language involves much more than knowing what the words mean or signify, as well as the fact that linguistic understanding necessarily involves the cognitive process of inference. The most important contribution to pragmatics in the late twentieth century (and one of the most important books in linguistic theory of any kind in that period) is Relevance by Dan Sperber and Deidre Wilson. The core of their argument is: "To communicate is to claim an individual's attention: hence to communicate is to imply that the information communicated is relevant" (vii). The way they work out the implications of relevance theory--stressing inference (rather than decoding), the cognitive environments of speakers and listeners, manifestness, and ostension--is masterful.
In a way, all the approaches to language mentioned briefly in this section may be considered versions of pragmatics; they all deal with language in context. Because of this, it is important to recognize the theorist who was perhaps the most important proponent of pragmatics in an era long before the rise of cognitive science: Bakhtin. In the 1920s, Bakhtin and his colleagues worked out a concept of language that stood in opposition to the reigning theories of language at the time. (8) The overarching idea that unifies Bakhtin's work is his insistence on situating all study of the human sciences--specifically including language and literature--within the context of human social realities. Bakhtin never considered himself a linguist and he does not provide an overall linguistic theory. But his writings on language are as valid today as they were at the time they were written.
Throughout Bakhtin's writings, he deals specifically with language use in context. Especially in Marxista and the Philosophy of Language, published under the name of V. N. Voloshinov, attention is called to the non-verbal context, intonation, speaker-addressee relationships, and answerability--important aspects of modern pragmatic approaches to language--all major concepts that also run throughout Bakhtin's other writings. Noting that mere linguistics normally studies just the word (or, at best, the sentence), Bakhtin insists that the real unit of speech communication is the utterance, and he calls his work "metalinguistics" in order to stress that it goes beyond standard linguistic concerns. Understanding is never passive (as some linguistic theories suggest), but rather active and participative. Dialogism is the term most frequently associated with Bakhtin, and it is a theme throughout his writings. As opposed to the depersonalized, logical, and mechanical relationships among language units in most theories, Bakhtin's theory personalizes everything: "But I hear voices in everything and dialogic relations among them" (169). For Bakhtin, life itself has meaning only in context: we are answerable in context. Bakhtin was the original contextualist.
Together, the metalinguistic, cognitive, integrationalist, usage-based, and pragmatic approaches to language offer, I believe, a basis for understanding literary texts in a way that is consistent with a contextualized cognitive science. Literary theory must have at its core a coherent theory of language, for the material substance of literature is language and nothing else. Literature is perhaps the ultimate example of the pragmatic use of language, The use to which a story or a poem is put; the pragmatic way it is understood; the meaning it has in the real context of our lives--surely these are at the heart of the entire literary endeavor.
When one begins to discuss embodied cognition, it is essential to come to grips with that field of scientific inquiry that is an anathema to many humanists and social scientists: evolution. It is frankly embarrassing to hear a colleague or friend assume what they take to be a politically-correct postmodernist pose and dismiss evolution as "just another theory" or "just another discourse," implying that it has dubious validity at best and can perhaps be thought of as being on a par with the discourses of fundamentalist religion or new-age spiritualism. One can no longer claim legitimacy within intellectual or academic discourse when one holds such an opinion. Evolution is a fact, as much a fact as gravity or sunshine. It is, along with quantum physics, one of the cornerstone scientific theories of our time, one of the foundations on which all of science is built. Given this, it is the duty of all of us to understand at least the basic Darwinian theories of evolution by natural selection and sexual selection. After all, human beings are animals, albeit the most social of all animals. As animals, we have evolved bodies, brains, and adaptations, and to deny this obvious and necessary reality is no longer possible. That means that we may have to surrender some of our most cherished beliefs, such as strong social construction, power discourses, and linguistic determinism.
Charles Darwin's original works are available in numerous editions and are essential reading. His style runs from the most lyrical to the most pedestrian as he strives at length to make his points. (9) Even though Darwin's original theories were unfairly criticized right from the very beginning, criticism grew in the twentieth century as his ideas were associated with so-called "Social Darwinism" and supposedly used as the theoretical foundation for racism, eugenics, ethnic cleansing, and genocide. But, as we all really know, despots, tyrants, and dictators have never needed a scientific or social theory in order to justify their horrific acts. The ancient Aztecs needed no theory of Social Darwinism to use persons from other tribes for their human sacrifices. George Orwell's 1984 shows us that in order to dominate humanity Big Brother uses the idea that the mind is purely a social and political construct, and, while this is a fallacy, there is certainly no biological determinism involved. Hitler on the right and Stalin on the left would have carried out their mass atrocities no matter whether they believed in strong social construction or biological determinism--or in nothing at all.
Furthermore, Darwinian theory has been refined in the twentieth century with discoveries in genetics, DNA, and microbiology. Today's widely accepted neo-Darwinism, or the "modern synthesis," developed in the first half of the twentieth century, incorporates concepts that were unknown in Darwin's time, but that are fully integrated into the original theory, thus strengthening and extending it. Further developments in the second half of the century include concepts like kin selection and inclusive fitness, attachment theory, reciprocal altruism, parental investment, parent-offspring competition, evolutionary game theory, the social function in evolution, sociobiology, the extended phenotype, the handicap principle, and others. In addition, the appearance of new sub-disciplines such as life history theory, evolutionary psychology, and developmental systems theory--together with a greater understanding of the important roles of women in evolution--have enriched and expanded evolutionary theory, especially with regard to human evolution.
Because many feminists have been harshly critical of the entire idea of evolution, believing that somehow by definition it diminishes women and enshrines patriarchy, it is particularly important to call attention to the fact that many of the best contemporary evolutionary and biological scientists are women. The days of using terms like "man the hunter," "man the toolmaker," "man the inventor of language"--always with emphasis on the male--are over. One might begin to see how things have changed by reading Sarah Blaffer Hrdy's groundbreaking Woman that Never Evolved, the first major book of evolutionary theory to take the role of women, and of female primates in general, into detailed consideration. She and other women scientists have fundamentally refocused the study of evolution in such a way as to show beyond doubt that women, at least as much as men, have shaped the growth and development of the modern human animal. Feminist biologists like Lynda Birke have now fully embraced a systems-theory approach to biology, and they have no difficulty reconciling their legitimate feminist values with their legitimate biological scientific work. (10)
Human beings as they exist today are a product of a long evolutionary history, and this history has important implications for the structure and function of our mind-brains and for the way we perceive the world and think; therefore, a comprehensive study of the human mind ought to take into consideration the implications of our evolutionary history. The sub-discipline that places stress on exactly these factors is called evolutionary psychology. As the authors of one of the most important books in the field wrote some twenty years ago: "Evolutionary psychology is simply psychology that is informed by the additional knowledge that evolutionary biology has to offer, in the expectation that understanding the process that designed the human mind will advance the discovery of its architecture" (Barkow, Cosmides, and Tooby 3). Every other evolutionary psychologist discusses the discipline in the same terms: a psychology informed by evolutionary biology--embodied cognition in the most literal sense. No other discipline more explicitly attempts to integrate the biological and the social, the evolutionary and the contemporary, nature and nurture. Yet for some reason, evolutionary psychology has come under withering attack by many humanists and social scientists who charge practitioners in the field with promoting biological determinism. As I will argue in the next section, no one today advocates biological determinism.
A central tenet of evolutionary psychology is "that there is a universal human nature, but that this universality exists primarily at the level of evolved psychological mechanisms, not of expressed cultural behaviors" (Barrett, Dunbar, and Lycett 5). Nothing in the idea of a universal human nature even remotely implies that there should be a uniformity of cultural practices, any more than it does that there should be but a single language, religion, or political system worldwide. Another tenet of the field is that the process of evolution by natural selection is very slow, operating over the course of millions of years, while the process of social and cultural change for the human species has been very fast in the last 50,000 years or so. As a result, while we human beings are, in effect, still working with our brains as they slowly evolved over millions of years to cope with hunter-gatherer realities, we find ourselves in a complex, technology-driven context that makes demands on our mind-brains that evolution has not had time to prepare us for.
Evolutionary psychologists have made bold and provocative claims in areas such as altruism, physical attractiveness, decision-making processes, homicide, jealousy, patriarchy, sex differences, and rape. Some of their work is speculative and has been challenged (after all, that is what science and other kinds of intellectual labor are all about), and it has sparked stimulating discussion." And finally, a brief note on the evolution of human language. The question of how human language came into being has long been a mystery, as language leaves no fossils to study. But extraordinary work in fields such as the interrelated theories of protolanguage and a probable gestural basis for a mimetic phase of human culture, a social origin for language, the concept of co-evolution of mind and brain, the co-evolution of hand and brain, gesture, the development of cognitive fluidity and the possible origins of music, the evolution of human anatomy, and the linguistic capabilities (or lack thereof) of other animals, all provide insights into how it may have been that we, uniquely among all animals, have come to be able to use spoken (and, later, written) symbols for communication. (2)
Animals have brains but plants do not. Why? One simple reason: animals have to move but plants do not. The basic function of the brain is to decide what to do next, and plants do not make such decisions, so they have no brains. But animals do have to make important choices, every minute of every day, and so brains evolved to deal with movement and decision-making. (13) And, of course, the things we human beings want to use our brains for--building bridges and rockets, engaging in politics, dancing and singing, and writing and reading literature, to name just a few--involve much more than simply moving from one place to another. To claim expertise in a field like literature, while knowing little or nothing about how the brain works, makes about as much sense as claiming to be a car mechanic without knowing anything about how an internal combustion engine works. all humanists should know some of the basics of what the brain is, how it evolved, how it develops, and how it functions. That does not mean that you have to be a brain scientist to be a literary scholar, but it does imply that you should know the frontal cortex from the brainstem and the corpus callosum from the amygdala.
I suggest that an excellent place to begin is with the superb textbook by M. Deric Bownds, The Biology of Mind: Origins and Structures of Mind, Brain, and Consciousness. (14) The oldest part of the brain, including the brainstem that connects the brain to the nervous system of the spine, is sometimes called the reptilian brain because it deals with the same sort of basic life-sustaining activities that are seen in more primitive reptiles like snakes and alligators. Resting above and in front of, and partially surrounding, this primitive brain is the limbic system, also known as the old mammalian brain. Here is the seat of some of the most basic emotional functions of the brain, including olfaction and important aspects of memory. Finally, encompassing all the rest is the cerebral cortex, the new mammalian brain, occupying over fifty percent of the total brain of humans, a larger percentage than in any other animal. (15)
The two hemispheres of the brain are divided into roughly four lobes on each side: I) the occipital lobes, in the back, where much vision is processed; 2) the parietal lobes, on the top, which deals with many of the senses; 3), the temporal lobes, on the sides, where much language processing takes place and where hand movements are directed; and 4) the frontal lobes, behind the forehead (the closest thing there is to an executive part of the brain) that deal with reasoning and much decision-making. But it is important, also, to remember that brain functions are extraordinarily complex: virtually nothing takes place exclusively in any one part, or on any one side of the brain. Even the newest parts of the brain, the foremost sections of the frontal cortex, are intimately connected to--and in dialogue with--the emotional centers of the brain. (16) There is one very important difference between the human brain and the brains of other animals: the majority of the development of the human brain takes place after birth. (17) In other words, we are not limited by our "hard-wired," inherited brain, except in the most basic functions (brainstem, limbic system, etc.). Rather, brain growth is as much a matter of environment as it is of biology. This can be clearly seen in what is known as the "theory of neuronal growth selection," or "neural Darwinism," as developed by Gerald Edelman. One of the most basic ideas in the theory of neuronal growth selection is that during cerebral development, populations of neurons engage in their own evolutionary competition for growth and development. Genetics does not determine how the brain will develop, but merely places constraints on how it can develop. Individual neurons form into groups and networks according to how they are activated, used, and reused over a period of time. In other words, individual cells and cell alliances engage in a Darwinian struggle for life within the brain.
Neural Darwinism is a perfect illustration of an important feature of all modern biological and evolutionary thought, neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and embodied cognition: there is no such thing as biological determinism, and no one argues for it. There is a prevailing belief in much of the humanities and social sciences that human beings have somehow been able to rise above their biology, and that we, unlike any other animal, are purely cultural (and largely--if not exclusively--linguistic) creatures. (18) This view dismisses biology and evolution as having no role whatsoever in the shaping of any aspect of the human subject. This is pure nonsense. We are not determined by genetics and no biologist today even suggests such a thing, in spite of the frequency with which they are accused of saying that it is so. All modern studies of DNA and genetics argue strenuously against this myth. (19) I repeat: there is no such thing as biological determinism, and no one argues for it. Everything human depends completely on biology: without the biological capabilities of our brains and bodies, we cannot exist. But everything simultaneously depends completely on the social, cultural, historical, and environmental contexts in which we live: without social context, we cannot exist. In other words, everything is both biological and social at the same time. It is 100% nature and 100% nurture. Dualisms such as the classic Cartesian mind-body split--or the nature-nurture debate--become nonsubjects, incoherent ideas that cannot even be meaningfully discussed in the contextualized--and contextualizing--discourse of embodied cognition.
Finally, I would like to make mention of the effect of learning to read on the physical structure of the brain. As I will argue in the next section, there is a great difference between perceptual cognition, which involves perceiving something directly (as when one watches television of other electronic media), and symbolic cognition such as reading. Further, reading is something very special in the history of the human species. As French neuroscientist and reading expert Stanislas Dehaene argues, reading "endowed us with additional external memory that allows us, as [Spanish poet] Francisco de Quevedo put it, to 'listen to the dead with our eyes' and share the thoughts of past thinkers. In this respect, reading is the first 'prosthesis of the mind'--a prosthesis that successions of ancient scribes adapted to our primate brain" (325). In Proust and the Squid, Maryanne Wolf brings the study of literacy into the age of neuroscience as never before. She carefully explains how the brain is physically reconfigured through five phases of reading development: 1) the emerging pre-reader; 2) the novice reader; 3) the decoding reader; 4) the fluent comprehending reader; and 5) the expert reader (114-62). This section of Wolf's book should be of especially compelling interest to literary scholars.
The literate brain is radically different from the brain of an illiterate. Perhaps as much as language acquisition itself, reading illustrates the flexibility of our brains, and once again demonstrates both the fallacy of the nature-nurture dichotomy and the reality of embodied cognition. We cannot learn to read without the ability to use our infinitely complex neural structures to comprehend creatively the possible significance of the symbols printed on the page (nature). Nor can we learn to read without the social contexts of home and school, where we are taught what reading is and how to go about doing it (nurture). The brain makes possible the social and psychological activities involved in reading, while the social and psychological activities involved in learning to read change the physical structure of our brain. As always, it is 100% nature and 100% nurture. We read books (i.e., novels, stories, poems) but we perceive (watch) other media (i.e., theater, television, and film). Reading requires imaginative and creative participation in ways that perceiving does not, and reading is more difficult than perceiving. It must be learned, and when it is, the brain is changed, both physically and conceptually, in ways that perception cannot achieve. The literate brain is different from the illiterate brain; the symbolic brain is different from the perceiving brain; the embodied brain is different from a central processing unit of a computer.
The brain is the physical organ in our skulls, and there is no immaterial soul or self that also inhabits our bodies. But there is such a thing as mind: it is the activity of the brain. The mind is what the brain does. Sometimes we want to talk specifically about the physical organ, the brain; sometimes the emphasis is on its activities, the mind. But at other times it is more convenient to talk about the two of them at once, thus the increasingly popular hyphenated word mind-brain. And what are these activities of the mind? Among the most important, or at least among those most discussed through the ages, have been consciousness and self, perceptual systems, sleep and dreams, the cognitive unconscious, memory, narrative, and schema theory and categorization. These are also some of the central issues in cognitive science.
Although consciousness is often assumed to be closely related to, if not absolutely dependent on, language, such is not the case. Nonlinguistic animals, pre-linguistic infants, and proto-humans in the earliest stages of evolution before the emergence of language, were all conscious. Thus, and not surprisingly, the base-line definition of consciousness is the experiencing of sensations. On top of this, come the "higher" conscious functions, such as language. Being conscious, feeling sensations, is something we do, an action rather than a quality or a thing: the mind is what the brain does. Nicholas Humphrey, who defines consciousness in terms of "the having of sensations," says, "Feelings enter consciousness, not as events that happen to us but as activities that we ourselves engender and participate in--activities that loop back on themselves to create the thick moment of the subject present" (217). For Humphrey, to have sensations, you must have a body; consciousness by definition is embodied consciousness: "First of all we can conclude that consciousness is strictly tied to bodies. To be conscious is essentially to have sensations of 'what is happening to me': in other words, of what is happening at the boundary between me and not-me. Without a body there would of course be no such boundary and hence nothing for the subject to be conscious of" (203-4). Again, by definition, all cognition is embodied cognition.
Consciousness comes in degrees and develops after birth. Edelman, for example, distinguishes between primary and higher-order consciousness. Primary consciousness is being aware of things in the world and is a description of the sort of consciousness we assume is characteristic of other animals. But higher-order consciousness involves self-consciousness, knowing that you are conscious, and only human beings are conscious of being conscious (Bright 124-36). Antonio Damasio makes a similar distinction between core consciousness and extended consciousness (The Feeling 168-233). Related is Merlin Donald's distinction between episodic and mimetic cultures (162-268). (20) If consciousness is an essential aspect of the activity that is mind, something the brain does, then what do we speak of when we talk of our "self"? Such talk seems to slip the homunculus of dualism in by the back door, as the self who does the mind's work: the "real me" of folk psychology, the "mind's I," the "ghost in the machine," the Christian "soul," the Kantian "transcendent, noumenal self," the Freudian "ego." But surely this cannot be--and it is not. And yet we perceive that there is something there. Although there is no such thing as a self that we have, we do have the sense of having a self; that is, we have a sense of self. Consciousness is self-referential. There must be some way to talk of that-which-we-perceive-to-be-us-within-ourselves. As psychologist Ellyn Kaschak describes it, the "sense of self is a metaphor, an organizing concept. Rather than speaking of the individual as having or being a self, it may be more accurate to speak of a sense of self, which includes the physical, affective, and cognitive experiences associated with this metaphor" (154). (21)
The modern understanding of perception owes more to James J. Gibson than to any other individual. Beginning in World War II, Gibson undertook the study of visual perception in a manner radically different from the ways such study had traditionally been done. He did not discuss vision in terms of spaces and lines, two-dimensional sensations, visual illusions, mental constructs based on fallible perceptions, or cultural norms that determine visual understanding. It was Gibson's innovation to state the obvious: "all human beings, everywhere, probably see the ground and the sky the same way" (The Perception 212). He worked out a complete theory of perception in The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems and crowned his work with what he called the "ecological approach" to visual perception, seeing in real-world contexts (The Ecological). Gibson often uses the term "veridical" to describe the "invariances" picked up from the environment by our active perceptual systems). By this, he means not that we actually see the world "exactly" as it is, but as it is meaningful to us. Gibson also made it clear that perceptual cognition is not the same kind of thing as linguistic cognition. His work here was complemented by that of Allan Paivio, who argued for the existence of two separate neural subsystems, one dedicated to the representation of nonverbal objects and events, which he calls the "imagery system," and one dedicated to linguistic representation, which he calls the "verbal system" because it specifically involves language.
We perceive the world, for the most part, in reliable ways that allow us to take advantage of what Gibson calls "affordances." An affordance is something that the world makes available to an animal, The use the animal makes of the affordance depends on the relationship between the animal and its environment. For example, a pen and paper afford me the opportunity to write a letter. It does not afford that opportunity to a goat, but it might afford the goat the opportunity to eat the paper. An affordance is thus neither subjective nor objective, but a relationship, an example of Maturana and Varela's structural coupling. It is a pragmatic concept that depends on context, and is an example of the inextricable relationship between an organism and its environment. (22)
Sleep is necessary to humans and other animals as an opportunity to restore the body and consolidate memories. But dreams are something else. Modern psychological and biological research on dreams, especially after the discovery of the REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, has shown that dreams are conscious brain states in which we perceive imagery, generally related to our lives in some way, but we do not act upon these perceptions because certain aspects of the brainstem and spinal cord are "turned off." Our dreams are meaningful to us, but they are not portents of the future, coded symbols of our deepest sexual feelings, or any of the other significances that have been assigned to them over the centuries. Major work on dreaming has been carried out by J. Allan Hobson, David Foulkes, and G. William Domhoff. All three are very critical of Freudian dream theory, but Freud is defended from a neuroscientific standpoint by Mark Solms and Oliver Turnbull. In the end, as Owen Flanagan notes, dreams may be mere evolutionary by-products (Dreaming Souls 93-126). (23)
Most of what happens in our brains--most of mind--is not conscious to us. The brain activities we do not directly perceive are often referred to as part of "the cognitive unconscious." Damasio, for example, estimates that some 95% of cognition is not conscious, and he lists the following important mind-brain activities of our "not-known" cognition:
1. all the fully formed images to which we do not attend;
2. all the neural patterns that never become images;
3. all the dispositions that were acquired through experience, lie dormant, and may never become an explicit neural pattern;
4. all the quiet remodeling of such dispositions and all their quiet renetworking--that may never become explicitly known; and
5. all the hidden wisdom and know-how that nature embodied in innate, homeostatic dispositions. (The Feeling 228)
Then he simply adds the following comment: "Amazing, indeed, how little we ever know." The cognitive unconscious stands in clear opposition to the dynamic unconscious that is a cornerstone of psychoanalytic theory. (24)
It was long thought, not just in psychoanalytic thinking, but by almost everyone, that we remembered virtually everything that had happened to us, and, under the right circumstances, we could retrieve it from the place where it was stored in the brain, and, further, that such recall was "accurate." This idea was elegantly disproven in the 1930s by Frederic C. Bartlett. Bartlett's work, much like that of Gibson, was largely ignored in many fields, including psychology. (25) Today we know that there is no "place" in the brain where a memory is stored; that memory is something we (re)construct each time; that our recall is often very inaccurate; and that there are different kinds of memory for different purposes. Perhaps the best single most comprehensive, inclusive, and persuasive book on the subject of memory is Daniel L. Schacter's Searching for Memory. He outlines and discusses the following kinds of memory:
1. long-term memories (that can be recalled even though much time has passed since the event) and short-term, or working memory (consisting of small amounts--usually seven [+ or -] two, items--that we can remember for brief periods of time);
2. explicit memory (specific information and experiences that we can recall) and implicit memory (past experiences not specifically recalled but that influence actions, thoughts, and perceptions); and
3. episodic or autobiographical memory (recollections of specific past events that are unique to each of us), semantic memory (dealing with knowledge that is conceptual and factual), and procedural memory (having to do with the acquisition of skills and habits.
Each of these memory systems can involve different parts of the brain, but most of them depend importantly on the hippocampus, located deep within the limbic system, and many of them are influenced by emotional states. (26)
There is reason to be distrustful of eyewitness testimony in court trials and of "recovered" memories because of the ease with which our memories are influenced by subsequent events, the words and deeds of other people subsequent to what is remembered, and the possibility that false memories can actually be implanted by others (Loftus and Ketcham 73-101). Even some of our most vivid memories, sometimes called "flashbulb memories," of important events (such as the attack on the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001) very often change with the passage of (even a little) time (Neisser, Memory 23-48). But no matter how unstable or unreliable our memories are, they are also powerful and important to our sense of self. Schacter ends Searching for Memory with these words: "Our memories are the fragile but powerful products of what we recall from the past, believe about the present, and imagine about the future" (308).
Although we have long privileged analytic, theoretical, and/or logical thought over other modes of cognition, all evidence indicates that narrative is the most important epistemological and cognitive mode we have. Ever since psychologist Jerome Bruner argued that a good story is more important to us than a good argument, neuroscientists and psychologists have confirmed that narrative is crucial to our cognitive process (11-44). Merlin Donald is the author of The Origins of the Modern Mind, the most widely accepted history of human cognitive evolution. In this book, Donald traces throughout our evolution the phases of human culture from the episodic (knowing the here and now, like other animals), to the mimetic (pre-linguistic communication with sounds and gestures), to the mythic (verbal, narrative), and finally to the theoretical (where much of our memory and knowledge is stored in retrievable sources outside our brains). As for the crucial third stage, Donald writes, "The narrative mode is basic, perhaps the basic product of language" (257). The ability to communicate linguistically and to tell stories (to invent myths, for example) radically reshapes the mind as it makes possible "a wholly new system for representing reality" (259; original emphasis).
There seems to be a consensus forming that, uniquely among the arts, narrative probably qualifies as a human evolutionary adaptation. (27) In order to discuss narrative from the perspective of the human mind-brain, various writers have made attempts to identify and describe aspects of how, why, and where narrative works: Donald describes a "linguistic controller" (Origins 259-68); philosopher William Calvin writes of the brain as a "Darwin Machine," a device for spinning speculative scenarios in milliseconds about the future consequences of our actions, of telling ourselves stories about what might happen if we take a certain course of action (257-73); and, as a result of his work with split-brain patients, Michael Gazzaniga proposes that the left hemisphere is the source for an "interpreter," a constant function of the brain in explaining what we do and what happens around us (130-41). Perhaps most elegantly, Mark Turner proposes that our mind is basically a literary one:
Story is a basic principle of mind. Most of our experience, our knowledge, and our thinking is organized as stories. The mental scope of story is magnified by projection--one story helps us make sense of another. The projection of one story onto another is parable, a basic cognitive principle that shows up everywhere, from simple actions like telling time to complex literary creations like Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu." (Literary Mind v)
Two important concepts in cognitive psychology are schema theory and categorization. A schema is a way we organize chunks of knowledge; it is frequently modified or updated as new information is received or perceived, it depends on context, and it is mostly nonconscious. Although the concept goes as far back as Emmanuel Kant and was importantly used by Frederic Bartlett, the most important work on modern schema theory is that of Ulric Neisser in Cognition and Reality. (28) Schema theory is, in effect, a sort of framework for the way we organize knowledge. Very influential is Mark Johnson's The Body in the Mind, a work on image schema, which he defines as "a recurring, dynamic pattern of our perceptual interactions and motor programs that gives coherence and structure to our experience" (xiv).
Related to schemata are categories. The traditional Aristotelian concept of a category as something that objectively exists in the world, has necessary and sufficient conditions for inclusion, and is binary (something cannot be A and not-A at the same time). But such a simplistic and rigid concept has been rejected ever since the pioneering work on categories by Eleanor Rosch, who based much of her work on Wittgenstein's idea of "family resemblance." (29) Lakoff further developed Rosch's ideas of prototype theory and radial categories. We can think of a category as a bull's eye target, pictured as a series of ever-greater concentric circles. At the heart of the center-most circle would be located what Lakoff calls an "Idealized Cognitive Model," not a specific thing, but the idea that would represent the perfect example of the category (68-90). Closest to the idealized cognitive model are those specific examples that we think best represent the category, while other works would be spread out to greater or lesser degrees. In other words, there are better and worse examples of any category; we may change our concept of a category when we receive new information, or in a different context (in this, categories resemble schemata), and we often form ad-hoc categories, useful for a certain purpose or for a short time but then forgotten (30)
7. THE LITERARY MIND
As noted above, Turner has argued that the normal, ongoing cognitive processes are what he calls "literary" in the sense of consisting of telling and understanding stories and their relevance to our own lives; we have "literary minds." The mind-brain is not a computer; the most basic functions of the brain are not like the processing of symbols according to logical and pre-determined rules. Among the most important ways we think are metaphor, figurative thought, mental images, imagination, conceptual blending, narrative, and theory of mind. None of these features forms part of any approach to mind-as-computer or mind-as-decoder of the sign-codes of the world. But they are all important in today's embodied cognitive psychology.
Metaphor theory was revolutionized when Lakoff and Johnson published their enormously influential Metaphors We Live By. Metaphor, they argued, is not, as traditionally conceived, uniquely a matter of language and style; rather, it is "pervasive in everyday life, not just in language but in thought and action. Our ordinary conceptual system [...] is fundamentally metaphorical in nature" (3). We think, naturally and continually, in metaphor, mapping from a source domain onto a target domain. Their book may be considered the foundational document of the field of cognitive linguistics (discussed briefly above), and has inspired a great deal of work in literary and linguistic studies (see my final section below). It should also be obvious that all study of metaphor depends on our embodied mind-brains. What is needed now is further explicit recognition of, and research on, the neural activities involved in metaphorical thought.
Once it had been demonstrated beyond doubt that we do not think logically, literally, of computationally, the floodgates were open to exciting new approaches to the relationship between thought and language. Raymond W. Gibbs, Jr., is one of the best and most influential proponents of figurative thought, as seen in his important book The Poetics of Mind. Arguing against any concept of literal thought, Gibbs defines and describes an array of figurative thought and how it gets expressed in our language.
Gilles Fauconnier developed the idea of mental spaces, and then he and Mark Turner developed this into the idea of conceptual blending. Rather like the Lakoff and Johnson concept of source and target domains, they suggested that it is a common thing for human beings to blend mental spaces, taking aspects from one mental space and projecting it onto another one, making a unique blend. This, they maintain, "is at the heart of imagination. It connects input spaces, projects selectively to a blended space, and develops emergent structure through composition, completion, and elaboration in the blend" (89). Literature may be, in fact, the primary laboratory and showcase for conceptual blending. This idea is probably second only to theory of mind (again, see below) in its impact on literary studies.
Our thoughts are filled with both percepts and mental images all the time, as has been elegantly demonstrated by Ellen Esrock in her important book on mental imagery, The Reader's Eye. Based largely on the work on imagery by psychologist Stephen Kosslyn, Esrock shows how mental imaging affects memory, clarifies spatial descriptions, and helps make a fictional world concrete. Following Esrock, and building on the work of Kosslyn and others, Elaine Scarry also discusses the role of mental imagery in reading in Dreaming by the Book. She argues that although mental images are less vivid than perceptual images, they are no less important.
Imagination may involve something never experienced before, and therefore not accessible by means of memory, or something never perceived before, and therefore not evoked primarily by means of the senses; it is, often, the creation of mental images that are not based on actual perception. At other times, it involves non-actual scenarios based on very familiar situations; imagination is often just as rational as it is fanciful. Imagination is not something extraordinary that some people do on occasion, but a constant and essential activity of the mind-brain. Imagination may be considered a kind of mental simulation: when we imagine something, we simulate what is happening in our minds. (31)
The central role of narrative in our everyday thinking has already been discussed, and so we can turn directly to the cognitive concept that, so far, has had the most impact on literary studies: theory of mind. In all aspects of our daily life, we think about what we are thinking, and we think about (of infer) what other people must be thinking. This is one of the cognitive attributes that most separates human beings from other animals. Theory of mind has been defined and described as the mechanism we use to understand what is going on in other people's heads. How we react to one another socially is the most important aspect of our lives. Without an understanding of what people think, what they want, and what they believe about the world, it is impossible to operate in any society. "Theory of mind" is the name given to this understanding of others. It is the basic necessity of humanity and is understood the same way the world over (O'Connell 2). Theory of mind is a central feature of what is known as folk psychology; it is also related to the philosophical concept of intentionality. (32)
Although the concept of theory of mind had its origin in primatology (as analyzed by David Premack and Guy Woodruff), it has since become clear that other animals, especially primates, have only a relatively simple understanding of what other animals may be doing. But it has proven to be a rich concept in the study of human development, adult cognition, and autism. We now know, for example, that children, in their first three or four years, are not aware that other people may be thinking or knowing something different from what they themselves think or know. But by around the age of four of five, they have developed this ability, and they continue to refine it throughout life; the acquisition of a theory of mind is a slow, gradual, multi-phase process that takes place throughout the early years of childhood and beyond. (33)
There is some controversy about just what theory of mind is, with two major approaches to the subject: the "theory" theory and "simulation" theory. Those who prefer the theory theory compare, often very literally, the child with a scientist. The idea is that by means of informal processes, the child formulates a kind of hypothesis about other people's thoughts, tests it in daily practice, revises it when new evidence becomes available, and eventually forms it into a series of pragmatic ideas about what other people must be thinking. Alison Gopnik and Andrew N. Meltzoff, for example, take the child-as-scientist as more than just a metaphor, making the case that "the processes of cognitive development in children are similar to, indeed perhaps even identical with, the processes of cognitive development in scientists" (3). (34)
In contrast, an increasing number of others prefer some version of the simulation theory. According to this view, we do not develop a (more of less) formal theory about what is going on in other people's minds, but we do imaginatively simulate in our own minds what we think must be taking place in the minds of others. The imagination is crucial to the simulation theory. For Alvin Goldman, for example, an important facet of the simulation theory of mind is what he calls "enactment imagination," an act that involves "deliberate construction of a mental state with (quasi-) visual character. The immediate output of the imaginative process is intended to resemble a counterpart state" (149). (35)
One of the important contributions made by the recognition of the existence and nature of theory of mind is that there are people who do not have one, or have it only to a limited degree: people who suffer from degrees of autism. Simon Baron-Cohen calls this "mindblindness," the inability to understand what is going on in other people's minds. In the most severe cases, profound autistics have no use of language at all, cannot function in any way in social contexts, and require institutionalization. In its milder version it is known as Asperger's syndrome, named after one of its discoverers. Those who have Asperger's syndrome may be aware of and discuss their own feelings and thought processes, but not necessarily those of others, and many can function adequately or even extraordinarily well in society. In order to make clear that autism can exist over a range of forms, the term "autism spectrum disorders" is often used. (36) Finally, a brief mention should be made of what is known as "Machiavellian intelligence." This term was coined by primatologists Richard Byrne and Andrew Whiten in order to describe how both humans and non-human animals are able to deceive or mislead others in order to further their own goals. Machiavellian intelligence tends often to be a more conscious process than other aspects of theory of mind, and certainly we see classic cases of it in literature." In the next section we will see some of the best examples of how theory of mind has been used in innovative literary studies.
8. COGNITIVE APPROACHES TO THE STUDY OF LITERATURE
The amount of quality work already done in cognitive literary studies is truly impressive, and it is growing all the time. There is no way to provide a comprehensive critical overview of the field, so I will simply list some of the major works in various areas.
First, I want to acknowledge a few of the pioneering works, especially those that most influenced my early interest in the field. And I must begin with Norman Holland's The Brain of Robert Frost, The Critical I, and Literature and the Brain. Holland is one of the very few scholars who did important groundbreaking work in the 1980s, and who has remained active up to the present. As the leading cognitive critic who continues to ground his work in psychoanalytic theory, Holland has set a model for many who have followed in his wake. Likewise, Lakoff and Johnson's Metaphors We Live By was an even earlier significant work, and their research has inspired a whole generation of literary scholars. Turner's Death is the Mother of Beauty, Reading Minds, and The Literary Mind--along with The Way We Think, co-written with Fauconnier--have been the most influential works in the tradition of Lakoff and cognitive literary studies.
The most significant "new" approach to literature that has come from the disciplines discussed above is the one that explicitly has its origins in evolution and biology. Taking the theory of evolution and evolutionary psychology into account, Joseph Carroll has broken new ground and both inspired and raised the hackles of other scholars. Others who have worked within the evolutionary approach include Robert Storey, Glen A. Love, Jonathan Gottschall, William Flesch, Brian Boyd, and Nancy Easterlin.
Cognitive poetics, or cognitive stylistics, mostly as written within the tradition of Lakoff, Johnson, and Turner, has perhaps been the richest area of cognitive literary studies. Peter Stockwell is generally recognized as the best introduction. Short essays are frequent, and many books mentioned later also deal substantially with work in cognitive poetics. One of the major studies that falls into this area is Mary Thomas Crane's Shakespeare's Brain. Reuven Tsur is an important pioneer in a slightly different, and somewhat earlier, tradition also known as cognitive poetics.
Narrative theory and reader-response theory have always been closely related, and this is certainly the case in cognitive studies, although boundaries here are less clear than in any other area, as all of these works have implications in multiple subfields. Here the most important and influential book perhaps has been Richard Gerrig's Experiencing Narrative WorMs, a work that no scholar who deals with narrative fiction can afford not to know. (38) There are also important works that deal with various areas of study such as autobiography; memory; emotion, empathy, and simulation; and gente theory. (39) One of the most productive areas of investigation has been that of theory of mind and the study of literary characters. The foundational work here is that of Lisa Zunshine (Why We Read Fiction), but equally important are the books by Alan Palmer and Blakey Vermeule. In addition to numerous brief introductory essays, there are some works intended as a general introduction to cognitive approaches to literature. The basic books The Brain of Robert Frost, by Holland, and Reading Minds and The Literary Mind, by Turner certainly fill this bill, as do, for instance, Hogan's Cognitive Science, Literature and the Arts, Aldama's Why the Humanities Matter, Gottschall's Literature, Science and a New Humanities, Slingerland's What Science Offers the Humanities, Oatley's Such Stuff as Dreams, and Easterlin's Biocultural Approach to Literary Theory and Interpretation. Important work has been done in cognitive approaches to film, theater, and media studies while work in theater and performance studies has been especially fruitful. (40) Meanwhile, empirical approaches to literature involve attempts to study literary experiences by using a variety of testable means, data gathering, and carefully designed experiments. (41) Finally, there are some basic collections of essays that often represent some of the best work done in the field, and they may be an excellent starting point for readers who want to get a feel for the variety of work that has been done. (42)
Cognitive approaches to literature is now a fully established and rapidly growing field of literary study. The field's elevation from discussion group to division by the MLA in 2012 is indicative of its permanent status on the scholarly scene. It represents the most original, refreshing, and exciting new way of approaching literary theory and criticism to come onto the scene in the last half century. As with any new field, work has proceeded in ways that are sometimes overlapping, sometimes interrelated, and sometimes in stages. The field is not monolithic or prescriptive. There are fault lines between those who promote the evolutionary approach and those who are more grounded in cognitive poetics. Some of the leading scholars in the field still fail to recognize the importance of autopoiesis and embodied cognition, as they continue to rely too much on an old-fashioned language-based approach. Some of these scholars hold to the belief that they are in harmony with and an extension of traditional poststructuralist theory, while others largely (or completely) reject the linguistic, biological, and psychological assumptions of previous theory. I would propose that the overarching concepts for cognitive approaches to the study of literature are best when solidly grounded in neuroscience, evolution, and embodiment.
There is no one way to "do cognitive studies," no cookie-cutter approach that can be readily applied to any work of literature. But as the following essays in this special cluster of Cervantes will make clear, the doors opened by cognitive studies are one of the major ways in which the future of literary studies may be headed. (43)
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(1) I use italics for cognitivism and contextualism in order to make clear that I am referring to the cognitive paradigm that often goes by these titles and not to other ways in which these words are used.
(2) For discussions of the shortcomings of the artificial-intelligence approach and critiques of the methods and assumptions of cognitivism, see Dreyfus; Schank; and Brooks.
(3) See also Maturana and Varela (Autopoiesis; El arbol; The Tree; and De maquinas); Plotkin; Varela ("Laying Down a Path" and "Whence Perceptual Meaning"); and Varela, Thompson, and Rosch.
(4) For example, see Clark; Lakoff and Johnson (Metaphors, Philosophy); Gallagher; Gibbs (Embodiment); Johnson (The Body, The Meaning); Thompson; Noe (Action); and Maiese.
(5) See Oyama (Ontogeny and Evolution's Eye); Thelen and Smith; and Capra.
(6) See Pinker (The Language Instinct and Words and Rules); and Jackendoff (Patterns in the Mind, The Architecture of the Language Faculty, and Foundations of Language).
(7) For other important works in cognitive linguistics, see Langacker; Gibbs (Poetics); Taylor; Ungerer and Schmid; and Talmy. For research on integrational linguistics, see Harris; Cameron; and Toolan. For usage-based approaches to language, see Clark; Herbert; and Tomasello (Constructing a Language).
(8) Three books from the 1920s were published under the names of other members of the so-called Bakhtin Circle (specifically, Pavel N. Medvedev and Valentin N. Voloshinov), and the degree of Bakhtin's personal involvement with them has been a matter of much heated discussion. I am not interested in resolving the "disputed authorship" question, but I will note that nothing of importance in these early works is inconsistent with anything Bakhtin wrote subsequently.
(9) For very good contemporary introductions to evolutionary science for humanists see Cronin; Dennett (Darwin's Dangerous Idea); Wilson; Stamos; and Coyne. For excellent books on human cognitive evolution, see Donald; Mithen (The Prehistory); and Tomasello (The Cultural Origins).
(10) Along with the important, often inspiring, work of Hrdy (The Woman, Mother Nature, and Mothers and Others), see Jolly; and Campbell. For a stunning work on the role of women in evolution written by a man, see Shlain. For a strong frontal attack on feminist critiques of evolution, see Vandermassen.
(11) For some basic work in the field of evolutionary psychology, see Pinker (How the Mind Works); Plotkin (Evolution); Buss (The Handbook and Evolutionary); and Dunbar and Barrett. For more on homicide, see Daly and Wilson. For more on human universals, see Brown. On beauty, see Etcoff. On mating strategies and jealously, see Buss (The Evolution of Desire and The Dangerous Passion). Also on mating strategies, see Miller. On rape, see Thornhill and Palmer (perhaps the single most controversial book in the field).
(12) On protolanguage, see Bickerton. On gesture, see Donald. On a social origin of language, see Dunbar (Graoming). On co-evolution of mind and brain, see Deacon. On co-evolution of brain, hand, and/or gesture, see Wilson; and Corballis. On cognitive archaeology and the origins of music, see Mithen (Prehistory and Singing). On human anatomy, see Lieberman. On linguistic capabilities of other animals, see Savage-Rumbaugh and Lewin.
(13) On the fundamental role of movement in cognition, see Sheets-Johnstone; Berthoz; and Noe (Action).
(14) Other useful books on the structure and function of the brain include Greenfield (Human Brain); Ornstein; Blank; Goldberg; Ratey; Johnson; and Cozolino.
(15) This description of the brain is based on Paul MacLean's "triune brain" theory. This theory is a little simplistic, but it is still recognized among many congitive scientists as a good basic description.
(16) For the role of emotion in all thought see, for example, Damasio (Descartes); LeDoux (The Emotional); and Panksepp.
(17) Chimpanzees, our closest relatives, and humans are both born with brains approximately 350 cubic centimeters in size. That figure is about 75% of the adult chimpanzee brain, but it is only about 25% of the adult human brain. Imagine the effect it would have on the birth canal if humans were born with a head three times larger (i.e., 75% of its adult size) than it already is. The human species was saved from extinction by the fact that its babies are born more cognitively immature than those of other primates.
(18) Recall the quote by Katherine Hepburn to Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen: "Nature is what we were put on earth to rise above."
(19) For important work on genetics and DNA, see Ridley (Genome and Nature); Moore; Tudge; and Rutter. For strong arguments against the concept of the blank slate, see Pinker (The Blank Slate).
(20) On how consciousness develops through different phases in life, see Stern. On the relationship between child development, consciousness, and dreams, see Foulkes.
(21) For further explorations in the areas of consciousness and self, see Dennett (Consciousness); Flanagan (Consciousness); Darnasio (Descartes); Baars; Greenfield (Private Life); Llinas; and LeDoux (Synaptic Self).
(22) Gibson's work was ignored both by enthusiasts of the mind-as-computer model of cognition and postmodern literary theorists who would have nothing of "veridical" perception. It began to gain recognition in the era of contextualism and now stands as a cornerstone of cognitive science. On Gibson's importance, see Reed.
(23) For a good up-to-date account of dream research, see Rock.
(24) Psychoanalytic theory has little standing in the cognitive sciences, although there are some--like the previously mentioned Solms and Turnbull--who make valiant attempts to reconcile the two. Literary scholars who write psychoanalytic criticism and theory, for the most part, know little or nothing of modern cognitive science. The major exception is Norman Holland, a pioneer in cognitive literary studies, as we will see later.
(25) Psychology at that time as dominated by behaviorism, which only measured observable behavior and gave no consideration to what was going on in the black box of the mind.
(26) For other informative and useful studies of different aspects of memory, see Singer and Salovey; Neisser and Fivush; Kotre; Schacter (The Seven); and Kandel.
(27) For some of the best articulations of this position, see Scalise Sugiyama ("On the Origins"; "Food"; and "Narrative"). See also Turner (The Literary 140-68); Abbott; Boyd (On the Origins); Dutton (103-34); and Gotschall (Storytelling Animal).
(28) See also Arbib and Hesse.
(29) See Rosch ("Human Categorization" and "Principles of Categorization"); and Rosch and Mervis.
(30) For fuzzy categories see Kosko; and Taylor.
(31) On imagination, see Johnson (The Body); Collins; Currie and Ravenscroft; Byrne (The Rational); and Nichols.
(32) On folk psychology, see Davies and Stone; and Stueber. On intentionality, see Searle; and Dennett (The Intentional Stance).
(33) On theory of mind and child development, see brief passages and/or chapters in virtually every book that deals with mindreading or child development. In particular, see Wimmer and Perner; Bartsch and Wellman; and O'Connell (176-77). For some of the latest insights into infant cognition in general, including theory of mind, see Gelman; Bloom; and Gopnick.
(34) See also Gopnik, Meltzoff, and Kuhl. In his excellent book on the nature of science, Robin Dunbar argues that "the scientific method is not merely typical of all humans, but is also a key feature in the lives of most birds and mammals. Science as we know it in the Western world is the product of a highly formalized version of something very basic to life, namely the business of learning about regularities in the world. Being able to predict what is going to happen in order to be able to act in an appropriate way at the right moment is fundamental to survival" (Trouble 58). See Dunbar's section on "Children as Natural Scientists" (67-71) where he discusses how "very young children already have a genuine understanding of causality long before they learn to speak" (71). See also the chapter on theory of mind in Dunbar's The Human Story (41-76).
(35) Recently, both the theory theory and the simulation theory have come under attack from a group of psychologists and philosophers who argue that our nonconscious, embodied, sociocultural knowledge is all that is required. See Gallagher; Radcliffe; and Hutto. It seems to me, however, that what they propose amounts to little more than a framework for the other two positions, and unfortunately at times they distort and misrepresent the writings of others.
(36) On autism and theory of mind, see also Frith; and Happe. See also the moving autobiography of high-functioning Asperger's syndrome sufferer Temple Grandin, as well as chapters or sections in almost all books on theory of mind.
(37) On Machiavellian intelligence in literature, see Vermeule (30-48).
(38) But other important and impressive studies are those of MacKenzie; Bortolussi and Dixon; Hogan (The Mina); and Dancygier.
(39) On autobiography, see Eakin. On memory, see Nalbantian; Ender; and Leverage. On emotion, empathy, and simulation, see Opdahl; Keen; and Oatley. And on genre theory, see Spolsky.
(40) For important work in film studies and visual media, see Bordwell (Narration; Making Meaning); Carroll; Branigan; Messaris; Currie; and Anderson. Some major works in theater and performance studies include McConachie (American and Engaging); Blair; Cook; Stevenson; Lutterbie; Lyne; and Tribble
(41) For two of the major statements in the field, see Hakemulder; and Miall. See also Steen; and Bortolussi and Dixon.
(42) Some of the most important of these anthologies are Bordwell and Carroll on film theory; Cooke and Turner on biopoetics; Semino and Culpeper on cognitive poetics; Herman (Narrative) on cognitive science and narrative theory; Gavins and Steen on cognitive poetics; Richardson and Spolsky on cognition and fiction; Gottschall and Wilson on Darwinian studies; McConachie and Hart on performance and cognition; van Peer, Hakemulder, and Zyngier; van Peer; Auracher and van Peer; and Zyngier et al. on empirical studies in literature; Grone and Vandaele on cognitive poetics; Aldama (Toward and Analyzing) on narratology and narrative theory; Boyd, Carroll, and Gottschall on evolutionary studies in literature and film; Zunshine (Introduction) on cognitive cultural studies; Herman (The Emergence) on consciousness in English literature; Leverage et al. on theory of mind and literature; Nalbantian, Matthews, and McClelland on memory; Jaen and Simon on the full range of cognitive literary studies; and Bruhn and Wehrs on literature and history.
(43) Much of this essay is based on, and some passages are taken from, a long manuscript I have in preparation: Voices in Everything: Restaring the Human Context to Literary Theory. I would like to thank both Bruce Burningham and my co-editors Barbara Simerka and Julien Simon for their valuable suggestions for reshaping earlier versions of this introduction. Thanks also to contributers Catherine Connor and Massamiliano Giorgini for comments that I have incorporated.
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|Publication:||Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2012|
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