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The Cambridge Handbook of Cognitive Science Paperback – 19 Jul 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 348 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (19 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521681901
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521691901
  • ASIN: 0521691907
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.6 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 409,294 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"In this admirable new volume, editors Frankish and Ramsey offer readers of all academic backgrounds an overview of the theoretical landscape of emerging fields of inquiry known collectively as cognitive science.... It allows readers to grasp current areas of cognitive research and to further their understanding of the philosophical issues that surround them.... Recommended..."
--R. K. Rowe, Kaplan University, CHOICE

Book Description

A philosophical analysis of cognitive science, which is an enterprise devoted to understanding the nature of the mind, spanning several other disciplines such as psychology, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence. The volume surveys the foundational issues, the principal areas of research, and the major research programs.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ningjingde ren on 4 Mar. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Contrary to its title this is not a handbook in the traditional meaning of the word, as an encyclopaedic reference work (e.g. most Cambridge Handbooks are 2-3 times its length). Instead, each of the 15 chapters is a brief introduction to a topic, written by an expert, but dealing with the basics. These cover a comprehensive range of subjects, including representation, perception, action, concepts, consciousness, neuroscience, and so on. The Editors have done a good job of standardising the chapters as regards length, level of difficulty, and balance between competing theories. Most chapters also cover the historical development of the discipline. Each is followed by annotated recommended reading and references to the primary literature. The index and glossary are adequate and the price reasonable.

Several chapters however have an abbreviated feel, as thought the editors had cut down the length and number of citations beyond what the authors first intended. But as a professional in the field, the main problem I had was that it is dated: no chapter contains a citation to research and texts published since 2010 (for some, 2007) ... except for one: Ray Jackendoff's chapter on language cites his 2012 book, which suggests to me that it was Jackendoff who held up publication for two years.

Apart from that, I would recommend this book to anyone unfamiliar with cognitive science who wishes to learn what is happening in this important interdisciplinary field.
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Format: Paperback
Having looked at many handbooks to aid me in my cognitive science studies, none comes close to this one in terms of providing an authoritative guide to the key theories. What sets this handbook apart is its clarity and conciseness. Each chapter is written by an expert in their area and provides up-to-date authoritative knowledge. The chapters are short; however, each chapter clearly and concisely covers the current main theories/approaches and the pros and cons of each.
The area of cognitive science covers a wide range of topics, and I have been using the handbook to research theories of emotion, concepts, reasoning and decision making, and consciousness. Approaching a topic such as emotions can appear daunting, as there are a variety of approaches and many theories, but little consensus. Although this book does not seek to provide an in-depth analysis of each topic, it provides a sufficient account of the key theories and issues. Recommended further reading for each topic is also highlighted in the book.
This book therefore serves as a very useful guideline, which can be supplemented by further reading for specific areas. As a postgrad cognitive science student I found this book invaluable and complementary to my studies, and I will continue to use it as a useful reference book throughout my career.
This book is a must have handbook for those interested in cognitive science. Considering how full of jargon topics in cognitive science can be, this book is clearly written and can be used by both undergrad and postgrad students in the area of cognitive science and cognitive psychology.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By David Keymer - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm neither a philosopher nor computer scientist nor any variety of neuroscientist. I am however interested in advances in hg field of cognitive science and this book looks like a useful reference tool (which, in fact, it turns out to be).

Level of abstraction is the important consideration in a book like this: is it accessible to non-scientist readers or does it oversimplify complicated matters? The Cambridge Handbook succeeds very well on this count. It is definitely not an easy book to read. It bears slow and careful attention, with time between topics to reflect and absorb what has gone before, but a lay reader of either philosophy or other facets of cognitive science will be able to follow the argument and benefit from the concise summaries of complicated topics which it provides.

The chapters are written by experts who are for the most part prominent in their fields of study. Many are philosophers but an anthropologist is included as are a quantitative analyst, a neuroscientist and a computer scientist, and several psychologists represented among the authors, each writing on their own area of expertise and research. Only one of them have I read before -Ray Jackendorf on language acquisition and use. It was interesting for me to read these articles because most of my reading has been about either computer simulation or applied brain research. Although I was aware that philosophy was part of the mix of disciplines adding to our understanding of cognitive issues, I knew little of what philosophers had written on these themes.

As to its layout, the book is presented in three sections: foundations (historical overview and core themes; separate entries on the representational theory of the mind and cognitive architectures -the latter is especially helpful); aspects of cognition (from perception through emotion and consciousness); and research programs.

The articles run roughly twenty pages each and are organized by headings and subheadings for easy reference. Each includes a bibliography of the references used in the article and suggestions for further reading. They seem to this reader to be scrupulously fair in presenting different views in their fields: it's quite helpful for an amateur like me who is trying to keep up with a field of vast importance for us but one which is also highly technical and rapidly changing. One theme that runs through several of the entries in the hope that sometime in the not too distant future, a unifying theory will be found to bridge rule-derived and connectionist theories of, for instance, language acquisition, and to bring closer the insights yielded by computer simulations and the study of the brain.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Cognitive science is a winner. 5 April 2013
By Philip Henderson - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In the past twenty years I have read more than fifty books about human consciousness. Some writers were philosphers, some psychologists, others psychiatrists, cognitive scientists, neurosurgeons, each studying the human mind from their perspective. Making sense of how everything goes together is the work of cognitive scientists. Since George H. W. Bush declared the 1990's the decade of the brain some of the brightest minds have tackled this human organ. Understanding how the brain creates human consciousness is the goal for all these scientists. Only a few in our society use much of their time considering how consciousness makes us who we are. This book gives a comprehensive compendium of some of the best ideas about how our brains present life to us. There are no answers but there is great discussion about so many of the pieces of human consciousness. Many scientists believe the brain will never be able to understand itself . . . I have higher hopes.
Five Stars 17 July 2014
By Lappoon Rupert Tang - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book arrived in perfect timing
1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Interesting, but not complete or authoritative 8 April 2013
By Dave English - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is an interesting review of the subject, but not complete or authoritative. It runs about 330 pages, compared to the excellent The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance (Cambridge Handbooks in Psychology) at 890 pages or the The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology (Oxford Library of Psychology) at 820 pages. Not useful as a reference, but might make a good book for an introductory Masters course in cognitive science to explore some of the major issues. The papers are original essays by respected authors, dense but covering worthy areas of study.
4 of 23 people found the following review helpful
About what I expected... 11 Dec. 2012
By Shikantaza - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )

I received a copy of The Cambridge Handbook of Cognitive Science (CHCS) from Amazon Vine for review. I am working on electronic devices for repairing brain damage; I thought this would complement my on-the-job training to date.

I have not had time to really dig into the book, but here are my initial impressions:

"Handbook" is a twitchy word - it implies that the reader will gain some understanding about how to do something concrete. (Witness "The Boy Scout Handbook" - IMHO an essential text, particularly for city dwellers.) The CHCS isn't one of those.

Ever heard the saying that anything called "science" isn't one? (Political, computer, ...) Cognitive science is still in it's infancy. Cognitive systems are designed to investigate new hypotheses about various aspects of cognition (perception, memory, emotion, &c.) based on ideas derived largely from psychology. The editors of CHCS state numerous times that results from neuroscience are being folded into cognitive science as they emerge.

Neuroscience is in it's adolescence. Brain processes such as synaptic transmission are studied at molecular levels, and researchers have very detailed understanding of minute processes. Brain organization is being mapped: tremendous progress has been made over the last five years during non-invasive studies to understand how major brain regions are connected. Much work has also been done to understand the connections within well-defined regions such as hippocampus. Despite all this truly wonderful work, there is no over-arching hypothesis of how the brain works as a large-scale system.

Two key things are missing from cognitive science: a working hypothesis of how the brain works, and any hypothesis at all regarding the connection between brain and mind (hardware and software, if you will). Without these basics as a starting point, cognitive science has created models (or systems) to generate results equivalent to those generated by a brain-mind system. (Does that sound tenuous or squishy?) Example: many (if not all) knowledge representation systems use graphs (look up "graph theory," an area of discrete mathematics) to create flexible and comprehensive platforms for relating facts. I guarantee this is not how the brain works.

An example question about "brain vs. mind" that has literally kept me awake at night: how does conscious thought evoke new activity in the brain? It is easy to imagine how sensory input can prompt the brain to do processing work. It is not at all clear how thinking about, say, a bird gives rise to a long train of thought on the mechanics of flight. It is also not clear how smelling a flower can evoke crystal-clear memories of a childhood event. If cognitive science, neuroscience, or psychology has reasonably firm answers to these questions, I am unaware of them.

I do not demean the work of researchers in the area. My concern is that they've bitten off a pretty big task, and it will be difficult to unify the diverse research results.

This is a serious (scholarly) book, and it needs a serious review. I will update this review over time as I progress through the text. I believe that, while editors and the chapter authors have done a great job of keeping the material simple, CHCS will take a serious amount of effort to comprehend.
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