chapter  1
The Re-Enchantment of the Concrete
Some Biological Ingredients for a Nouvelle Cognitive Science
WithFrancisco J. Varela
Pages 12

This chapter traces that there are strong indications that the loose federation of sciences dealing with knowledge and cognition—the cognitive sciences—are slowly growing in the conviction that the picture is upside down and that a radical paradigmatic or epistemic shift is rapidly developing. At the very center of the emerging view is that the proper units of knowledge are primarily concrete, embodied, lived. The model of the mind as a society of numerous agents is intended to encompass a multiplicity of approaches to the study of cognition, ranging from distributed, self-organizing networks up to the classical, cognitivist conception of symbolic processing. This encompassing view challenges a centralized or unified model of the mind, whether in the form of distributed networks, at one extreme, or symbolic processes, at the other extreme. The hinges are the source of both common sense and creativity in cognition, the key ingredients for a tasty nouvelle cognitive science.