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The Open MindCold War Politics and the Sciences of Human Nature$
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Jamie Cohen-Cole

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226092164

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226092331.001.0001

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Instituting Cognitive Science

Instituting Cognitive Science

(p.165) Chapter Six Instituting Cognitive Science
The Open Mind

Jamie Cohen-Cole

University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines development of and changes in the research culture at Harvard's Center for Cognitive Studies. The directors applied their psychological expertise in how humans think and learn to design a research environment that would maximize the chances for acquiring reliable knowledge about world—specifically, about the nature of human thinking. They saw learning as, fundamentally, the acquisition of new structures of thought and of new tools with which to think. Therefore what was important was not simply facts that people learned or scientists discovered. Rather more significant were the procedures, forms of mental representation, and heuristic methods that enabled individuals to have original forms of ideas, novel hypotheses, and techniques for investigating the world. Accordingly the Center was organized along interdisciplinary lines in order to facilitate the construction of new theories and new scientific tools while establishing the disciplined study of human cognition on a stable foundation. Several years later, once its work was well under way, the Center's culture became multidisciplinary. Rather than emphasizing the creation of cognitive science by sharing, invention, location, discussion and stabilization of new research techniques, the Center's new multidisciplinary atmosphere involved researchers working in parallel.

Keywords:   Interdisciplinary, Multidisciplinary, Research culture, Cognitive science, Center for Cognitive Studies, Harvard

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