Juan F. Franck and Ignacio Aguinalde, members of the “The Brain and the Personal Self” project, participated in the XXVIII Conference on Epistemology and History of Science, held in La Falda (Córdoba) from 9 to 11 October. This seminar annually brings together researchers in Philosophy of Science throughout the country and allows us to keep informed about the lines of research that are currently being developed at the national level. The paper by Ignacio Aguinalde was entitled “The Origins of Cognitive Psychology in George Armitage Miller’s Criticism of Behaviorism” and revolved around the overcoming of behaviorism through a more humanistic anthropological vision. Juan F. Franck presented a paper entitled “Difficulties of the emergent spectrum”, in which he tried to highlight some theoretical obstacles of the concept of emergency to explain the nature of the conscience.
Here you can read the abstracts of both presentations.
The origins of cognitive psychology in George Armitage Miller’s critique of behaviorism – Ignacio Aguinalde
At present, the cognitive current is undoubtedly the dominant paradigm in psychology. The incredible development of the scientific field of neuroscience, computer systems related to so-called “artificial intelligence” or linguistics – to name just a few of the most outstanding areas – has led psychology to adopt a model of psychism and behavior based mainly on the metaphor of the computer. This allowed to overcome the narrow theoretical and methodological perspective that had imposed until the mid-1950s behaviorism, but raises the problem of discerning the difficulties of other types of reductionism. That is why, before this rise of the various cognitive models, it is necessary to ask about their origins and the limitations they may present.
The present work fits within a theoretical analysis of the critic of George Armitage Miller to the behaviorist vision, that was precisely what gave rise to the cognitive current in psychology. Miller is considered as one of the parents of the cognitive school and his thinking represents a clear example of the intellectual itinerary of many researchers who abandoned the mechanistic scheme of behaviorism by noting its inadequacy to explain precisely the behavior. We will try to establish to what extent Miller’s theory allowed to overcome the reductionism of the behaviorist position and to open the panorama of the psychology to new ways of conceptualizing the mental life. For that, we will divide the exhibition into three parts. First, we will outline the historical context of Miller’s theory to know both the essential lines of the Watsonian behavioral view to which he opposed as well as the immediate antecedents that influenced his own doctrine. Secondly, we will proceed to determine the way in which the behavior of Millerism is overcome, concentrating on the applications of information theory and neurology to psychology, especially in the study of memory, the process of recoding and in the notions of plan and hierarchy of behavior. From these applications we will try to show the fecundity of its proposal and to evaluate in general the degree to which it is adequate in psychology its application of concepts taken from the computer science, in order to reach a balanced view of the contributions of this author.
Difficulties of the emergent spectrum – Juan F. Franck
The use of the concept of emergency is as frequent as it is inaccurate. Not only do not emergent theories share a univocal concept of emergency, but it is possible to draw a spectrum at the ends of which there would be opposing conceptions. There exist from emerging dualists to those who hold the emergency within a single process within a minimalist ontological framework of increasing complexity, which would also include consciousness. However, the whole emergent spectrum should be able to explain the emergence of the emergent, in order to avoid the impression that it is something magical.