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Monday, October 2, 2000
By Paul Ford
Who does this thing?
I'll fill in more later, but here are some brief statements about the possibilities of cognitive rhetoric:
From an article by Alan Richardson:
Given the immense promise of work on the brain and cognition, which has already revolutionized a number of academic fields, one might expect literary critics and theorists to consider the constellation of new ideas emerging from the cognitive sciences in their search for new paradigms for literary studies. Even if we define cognitive science broadly to include relevant aspects of neuroscience, however, literary scholars have as yet shown remarkably little interest. This lack of engagement may seem surprising. After all, issues of subject formation, language acquisition, agency, rhetoricity, and the like have become central concerns of literary theory and criticism, and yet much of the most exciting relevant work in linguistics, psychology, and philosophy of mind, not to mention neuroscience and artificial intelligence, has been ignored. That what must be the great interdisciplinary venture of our times, cognitive science (or, as a number of researchers now prefer, the cognitive neurosciences), has been left largely unexamined in a much heralded era of interdisciplinarity scholarship only adds to the sense of perplexity. (Richardson 157-8)
From a book, Literature and Cognition, by AI researcher Jerry Hobbs:
To an outsider, particularly to someone doing discourse analysis in an artificial intelligence (AI) framework, the recent controversies in literary theory concerning the nature of interpretation are quite puzzling. Once camp claims that the interpretation of a text can be anything. The other side claims that there is a single correct interpretation. But all of this confusion can be swept away by a simple observation: in mathematical terminology, interpretation is a function of two arguments, the text and a set of beliefs. In interpreting a text, one therefore presents not only an interpretation but also the set of beliefs that warrants the interpretatin. One can then go on, if one wishes, to ask the separate question of whether one set of beliefs has a more privileged status than another. Viewed in this light, the controversies are as if one camp said that the mathematical operation of multiplication was hopelessly indeterminate because in the context of 2 the product of 2 is 4 whereas in the context of 5 the product of 2 is 10, with the other camp claimed that, no, the product of 2 is always 4.
From a book, The Literary Mind, by Mark Turner:
How do we recognize objects, events, and stories? Part of the answer has to do with "image schemas." Mark Johnson and Leonard Talmy—followed more recently by Claudia Brugman, Eve Sweetser, George Lakoff, Ronal Langacker, me, and many others—have analyzed linguistic evidence for the existence of image schemas. Image schmas are skeletal patterns that recur in our sensory and motor experience. Motion along a path, bounded interior, balance, and symmetry are typical image schemas.
Literature, Cognition, and the Brain—a link list and article bibliography covering research relating to the intersection of cognitive neuroscience and literary studies.