#90: Stephen Kosslyn on How We Conceptualize the World
Cognitive Revolution | In the final episode of Cognitive Revolution, I talk to this eminent cognitive scientist about the different strategies we use for understanding the world around us.
This is Cognitive Revolution, my show about the personal side of the intellectual journey. Each week, I interview an eminent scientist, writer, or academic about the experiences that shaped their ideas. The show is available wherever you listen to podcasts.
Stephen Kosslyn is a foundational figure in the field of cognitive science. It is only fitting that he is the final guest in my Cognitive Revolution interview series, before I transition into a new line of content which I’m calling “Against Habit.” I remember in my introduction to my introduction to cognitive science course—which helped set me on the track I’m on today—learning about the mental imagery debate between Stephen Kosslyn and Zenon Pylyshyn. Kosslyn argued that the mental images we can conjure in our minds are indeed pictorial. Pylyshyn argued they merely felt that way; in fact, they’re closer to linguistic descriptions. It was fun to talk to Professor Kosslyn about his experience in cognitive science, how he’s used his cognitive scientific experience to do more applied work in recent years, and how cognitive scientists should think about novels and fictional rendering of human behavior. Stephen is currently president of Active Learning Sciences, Inc. and has served as chief academic officer for cutting edge educational institutions such as Foundry College and Minerva Schools. He was previously the John Lindsley Professor of Psychology in Memory of William James and Dean of Social Science at Harvard University.
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