Unity: Support From Cognitive Science

Linear Tess

[Photo by Melisande]

Stanovich (2004a) agrees with two central points of Henriques’ argument (start here). Firstly that human cognitive architecture can be split into ‘two broad domains’: quick-acting, unconscious parallel processes and logical-analytic processing, which is linear, slower and conscious. Secondly, Stanovich (2004a) agrees that the differences between humans and other animals are central to psychology.

Taking the ‘two broad domains’ first, these are seen in cognitive psychology in a number of dual-process theories that have been developed: Stanovich (2004b) identifies 22 of them. How have these dual-processes arisen? Some evolutionary psychologists argue that hypothetical thinking was selected for as it allowed humans to understand other minds. Hypothetical thinking allows a person to imagine ‘possible states of the world’.

Hypothetical thinking is also central, in Stanovich’s view to the difference between humans and animals rather than Henriques’ justification processes. Metarepresentational abilities, or ‘thinking about thinking’, represent the ‘cognitive divide’ between humans and animals. This is where Stanovich (2004a) takes issue with Henriques although he does agree that justification processes could have been involved in the development of metarepresentational abilities.

Stanovich (2004a) Metarepresentation and the great cognitive divide: a commentary on Henriques’ “psychology defined” (Abstract)
Stanovich (2004b) The Robot’s Rebellion: Finding Meaning in the Age of Darwin (Amazon)

About the author


Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and the author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick". You can follow PsyBlog by email, by RSS feed, on Twitter and Google+.

Published: 30 August 2006

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