What your teacher can’t tell you, I will!


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What your teacher can’t tell you, I will!

Philosophy has always been an a priori domain of knowledge. In other words, philosophy is generally not considered to be a science because it shows little regard for empirical experience beyond the rationalist model.

SGCS (Second Generation Cognitive Science) has challenged classical philosophy to reconsider its total reliance on the non empirical rationalist model. New brain scan technology has made it possible for cognitive science to develop new theories that place into question the adequacy of radically critical self-consciousness, i.e. present day philosophy that ignores such new empirical cognitive theories.

One of the outstanding characteristics of philosophy is its touted authority over the judgment of the adequacy of postulates and axioms incorporated into various sciences. Just as the saying regarding medical practitioners “Doctor, cure thy self” so one might say that philosophy must make a radical critique of thy own assumptions, “philosophy critique thy own assumptions”.

Cultural, social, and political possibilities beyond those sanctioned by a priori philosophy, such as objectivism, allow us to reach far beyond the current standards governed by such philosophies. Effective action is not determined alone by transcendental a priori truth but by pragmatic knowledge. What we need is something like a “cognitive map of the cultural models and other social constructs that animate thinking and decision making”.

There is much that is important that can be facilitated by a comprehension of how our conceptual system is structured. Our conceptual system determines to a large degree what we think, perceive, and know.

The benefits of cognitive theory to the Critical Thinking citizen are not merely technical and strategic. The benefits of cognitive theory are: first, a more penetrating critique is facilitated because it “cuts to the very root of conventional wisdom”; secondly, by posing this “ostensibly descriptive question of how law works is, necessarily, to inquire into the substance and ontology of Law. This inquiry will lead inexorably to the most profound issues of meaning and anatomy in human affairs.”

Conventional views of reasoning are contained in the ‘rationalist model’. “The traditional view takes for granted that reason is linear, hierarchical, propositional, and definitional. I refer to his standard view as “the rationalist model” or, more simply, “rationalism” to emphasize that it is, after all, only one possible model for reason and, thus, it operates as a kind of “ism”.”

Conventional views of reasoning express a very narrow and rationalistic conception that has proven to be inadequate to the demands of legal reasoning and generally all humanistic sciences. “Metaphor is a central modality of human thought without which we cannot even to begin to understand the complex regularities of the products of the human mind…a cognitive understanding of metaphor provides a more genuinely pragmatic alternative to the insistence on dichotomous thinking that so dominates and distorts contemporary legal thought.”

Quotes from A Clearing in the Forest: Law, Life, and Mind by Steven L. Winter