Meaning in Religion, Cognition and Culture 28-29 May 2009Cognition

Posted by Semeion Wed, February 25, 2009 11:33:48

This is a recommendation of a conference I will participate in with a paper based on my final thesis
Meaning in Religion, Cognition and Culture 28-29 May 2009

A working conference at Aarhus University, Denmark Invitation and Call for papers

Hosted by the main research area Religion, Cognition and Culture (RCC) at the Department of the Study of Religion in collaboration with the International Association for the Cognitive Science of Religion

The cognitive science of religion has made heady progress over the last few decades, and it continues to create new insights. There is now a growing awareness that human cognition is more than in the individual and 'in the head'. Human cognition is distributed as well as situated. It is also externalized and exploits the capacities of extended minds in language, symbols, practices and objects. Thus, as a program statement of the RCC emphasizes:

We analyze religion by studying the functional organization of the human brain, its interaction with the social and cultural worlds that it inhabits and modifies, and its developmental constraints and flexibility. Humans are mental creatures as well as embodied agents, who interact with the world. Core features of cognition – for example our moral intuitions and epistemic hunger – are powered by interpersonal dynamics. Cognition happens not only inside heads, but between heads, among heads and without heads (i.e. in cultural artifacts and systems).

It is our firm conviction that such interactions and interpersonal dynamics take place in modes of communication that include and depend on 'meaning' – here broadly conceived as the contents of communication. Meaning is one of the most taxing terms in the English language as any dictionary will reveal. This conference concentrates on problems concerning the relations between individual and collective linguistic and non-linguistic meaning and cognition in religion and religious prac­tices, be that in mind, body, text, ritual, institutions, and/or objects. The issues of meaning and cognition converge on questions of individual and collective intentionality as well as on normative cognition, i.e. the capacity of human cognition to conform to socio-cultural expectations and pressures. Such unique human abilities depend on the exchange of meaning. As meaning is inter-subjective and most of the cognitive science methodologies are inherently individualistic and mentalistic, we expect creative and critical presentations and discussions. This being a working conference we welcome work in progress. Selected proceedings will be published with an acclaimed international publisher.

Ignorance as Source of WisdomCognition

Posted by Semeion Wed, February 25, 2009 11:13:43

The Philosopher Ann Kerwin has taught Ignorance for medical students since the early 1980's. I read about her work in an interview in the Norwegian Magazine FLUX Uvitenhet - en kilde til visdom . For those who can't read Norwegian, some essays about ignorance can be found on Ann Kerwins homepage .

Ann Kerwin developed a Map of Ignorance, which is worth reflections. Her aim is to make learning a joyful experience.

I call it Heuristic Joy. Socrates exclaimed 'Heureka' = I found it! - but Heuristic Joy is so much more. Wonder. Developing better analytic tools. Discovery as a Journey. Amazement. Puzzlement. But Wonder as primary condition. An open Mind and love for Space and Clarity.

Winter SymposiumSemiotics

Posted by Semeion Sat, January 31, 2009 11:23:05

The annual Winter Symposium held by the Center for Semiotics in Århus, Denmark, was about Narrative Cognition this year. Much was said about narrativity, but not much about cognition. The concepts, models and analysing tools used and developed in the Center for Semiotics, when Per Aage Brandt was head of the Center, was hardly mentioned.

Per Aage Brandt initiated a highly inspiring blend of cognitive research and semiotics, inviting very innovative researchers and lecturers to the Center for Semiotics, such as Mark Turner - who in turned invited to join his research center in Cleveland, Ohio.

Frederik Stjernfelt is Full Professor at the Center for Semiotics now - and has written Danish semiotics - an overview

Anyway - the symposium was nice and inspiring, mostly because of the people present. Per Aage Brandt sat next to me at the final dinner. Sharing mind with him was inspiring as always. Woke up early with a great idea for demonstrating conceptual blending and imagination. And it will be illuminating and great fun!