Construing processes of consciousness: From the commonsense model to the uncommonsense model of cognitive science

C. M.I.M. Matthiessen

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingChapter in an edited book (as author)Academic researchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


One of the late twentieth-century movements in the academic world is cognitive science. It was initiated in the 1950s (1956 has been suggested as the year of birth) in the American research context by scholars such as Herbert A.Simon, George A.Miller and Jerome Bruner, partly as a response to the increasing disciplinary fragmentation of knowledge about human thinking, human knowledge and other aspects of the ‘mind’ and partly a reaction against behaviourism within psychology in the US. It was influenced by certain aspects of the cybernetics of the 1940s and took the computer model of processing symbolically represented information as central; Simon and Kaplan (1989:3) speak of the ‘information-processing revolution of the fifties and sixties, which viewed thinking as a symbol-manipulation process and used computer simulation as a way to build theories of thinking’ (for a critical discussion, see Varela, Thompson and Rosch 1991). In taking the computer as a model, cognitive science follows a long tradition in western thinking where the current technology has served as a way of thinking about humans-in terms of clockworks, automata, machines, switchboards (e.g. in H.G. Wells’ popular science writings of the late 1920s/early 1930s, the body is presented as a machine): the computer is merely the current candidate.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReading Science
Subtitle of host publicationCritical and Functional Perspectives on Discourses of Science
PublisherTaylor and Francis - Balkema
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)0203982320, 9781134704521
ISBN (Print)0415167892, 9780415167895
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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