What is cognitive science?

Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary study of the nature of cognition, viz., those processes whereby we take in information, store it, transform it, derive other information from it, and apply it in our interactions with our environment. There are four home disciplines that make up the core of cognitive science: cognitive psychology, philosophy, artificial intelligence, and linguistics. However, other disciplines such as anthropology are also relevant.

Cognitive science took shape in the eighties from a dawning awareness that none of the home disciplines seemed adequate to addressing the complex and difficult questions surrounding the nature of cognition. Researchers and theorists realized that most of the central questions concerning cognition had multiple aspects such that, for example, psychological issues fed naturally into philosophical concerns and vice versa.

This interdisciplinary nature of cognitive science makes it an extremely interesting and challenging topic of investigation. Learning how to work in such an interdisciplinary way is deeply thought provoking and often involves a very significant intellectual reorientation for those who pursue it.

JUP 250 introduces one to the basic theoretical frameworks, debates, and problems that drive cognitive science. It also introduces students to the practice of cognitive science and to the history of the discipline as well as the empirical data from the respective home disciplines that have provokes discussion, debate, speculation, and controversy.