The Domain Of Cognition

Although some philosophers (including Plato, Descartes, and Kant) have asserted that some knowledge is innate, most also agree that at least some knowledge is acquired through experience. Accordingly, theories of human cognition must include some account of the sensory and perceptual processes by which the person forms internal, mental representations of the external world; the learning processes by which the person acquires knowledge through experience; the means by which these representations of knowledge and experience are stored more or less permanently in memory; the manner in which knowledge is used in the course of judgment, decision making, reasoning, problem solving, and other manifestations of human intelligence; and how one's thoughts and other mental states are communicated to others through language. We cannot hope to give a comprehensive analysis of these processes in this article. Detailed treatment is provided by the textbooks listed under Suggested Reading and also in the multivolume Handbook of Perception and Cognition, which has appeared serially since 1994. Instead, we seek only to orient the reader to the general thrust of work in this field and to the problems and controversies that occupy its practitioners.

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