Cognition without processes

Jeffrey, H.J. / Published 1998 / Article

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Citation: Jeffrey, H.J. (1998). Cognition without processes. In H.J. Jeffrey and R.M. Bergner, (Eds.), Advances in Descriptive Psychology, Vol. 7 (pp. 33-66). Ann Arbor, MI: Descriptive Psychology Press.

Abstract: A different approach to cognition that does not rely on "mental processes" is presented. Based on the premise that a person distinguishes some part of the real world, which may be specified completely and in detail via Object, Process, or State of Affairs descriptions, we show that "mental" or "cognitive" structures and processes are unnecessary and in fact are not even explanations. Information processing descriptions are encodings, in process language, of achievement descriptions. We show that cognitive tasks are more fully, accurately, and parsimoniously conceptualized and described as achievements, specifically the achievement of the tasks and subtasks codified in the Object, Process, and State of Affairs Units. This allows us to address the issues of interest to cognitive psychologists while avoiding the logical difficulties of the traditional "underlying process" approach. The approach expands the field of inquiry for cognitive scientists, allowing scientific investigation of a much wider range of cognitive phenomena. Finally, we discuss implications for diagnosing and treating a number of cognitive disorders.