In a recent monograph (2014) and conference proceedings (2014, in press)I outlined a radically new version of cog sci in its relation to the world. It is well-covered in this interview but I will reparse it below;
We start with an individual thinking, alone, the root of far too much research in our field. I call this “solipsistic”; in can alternatively change into a pathological autistic mode or reach objectivity (as this blog is hopefully doing). In rder to maintain self-mastery, if for no other reason, it is necessary to enter the intersubjective world; that of people, work, norms. All this is is my original (1995, 2003) “search for Mind” (1995)
In the intersubjective world, our solipsism is broken by what I call the “exigent”. This may be rules imposed normatively, forcing one to construe oneself as an object, as a target of these laws. The spiritual path has often involved sending neophytes out into “the world” in order to find this out there rather than sullying the monastery. This world also involves self-transcendence, if experienced by most in banalities like football chants.
Now back to cog sci. The goal is reduction of this type of experience to science. For a variety of reasons, this is impossible. Certainly, the current psychologism – reducing language to metaphor and metaphor to fmri – is sheerest nonsense. In fact, the appropriate debate here is Einstein versus weyl; should we restrict terms like “simultaneous” to their meaning in physics, as Einstein argued, and rebuild the entire edifice of science from here?
That is no more than what Buddhism historically attempted; a third-person description of reality, including the human skandas, as atoms. I prefer to rescue a properly responsible and free individual, and believe that quantum mechanics realistically allows this. That puts us back into a liberal democracy, with a properly-attested science aiding us to know ourselves.
One Magisterium (Cambridge scholars publishing, 2014)
Foundations of Mind: cognition and consciousness. Proceedings of the 2014 conference at UC Berkeley” Volume 1 )2014)t Cosmos and History Vol 2, in press, CSP
"The Search for Mind" (Ablex, 1995; 2nd ed Intellect, 2002; Third edition