Cognitive Dimensions of Social Science

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from The Chronicle of Higher Education

From Oxford University Press

Cognitive Dimensions of Social Science:
The Way We Think About
Politics, Economics, Law, and Society

Mark Turner

"In this provocative and beautifully written book, Mark Turner describes conceptual integration, a.k.a. blending, as the basic mental operation that distinguishes cognitively modern humans from all other animals. He proposes a unification of the social sciences based on conceptual integration, showing that it is an essential part of either what we (interpretive) social scientists study or how we (qualitative) social scientists study what we study. The book is brimming with intriguing examples of conceptual blends from an incredible variety of domains. This is possible, of course, because conceptual integration is an absolutely ubiquitous form of cognition. Being human, Turner introduces some blends of his own, including the notion of 'conceptual sex', which illustrates the role of this basic mental operation in the evolution of diverse and complex conceptual systems."
—Edwin Hutchins, Professor, Department of Cognitive Science, University of California, San Diego.







"A major frontier of the social sciences is to integrate cognitive science with social science. Mark Turner's pioneering study is an imaginative contribution which will, I believe, force social scientists to turn their attention to this frontier."
—Douglass C. North, 1993 Nobel Laureate in Economic Science, Spencer T. Olin Professor in Arts and Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.

"In extending the idea of 'cognitive studies' beyond psychology, artificial intelligence, information processing and linguistics to the social sciences as a whole, Turner has both deepened that idea and set it free of scientistic rigidities. His discussions of 'conceptual blending,' of 'the descent of meaning,' of analogy and metaphor, and of choice provide a powerful new framework for work in anthropology, literature, and rhetoric on the one hand and politics, law, and economics on the other. 'The second cognitive revolution,' the one concerned with meaning and understanding, seems at last at hand."
—Clifford Geertz, Institute for Advanced Study.

"Cognitive Dimensions of Social Science is skillfully written and deeply relevant to a wide range of social scientific endeavors. In it, Mark Turner traces the origin of human choices to conceptual blending — a subconscious cognitive process that affects how people make sense of complex environments. His work demonstrates the substantial benefits that emerge from integrating cognitive science principles into social scientific practice. Read this book and witness the seeds of a powerful new paradigm being sown."
—Arthur Lupia, Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Michigan.

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Cloth ISBN 0195139046, $25.00
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From the jacket

What will be the future of social science? Where exactly do we stand, and where do we go from here? What kinds of problems should we be addressing, with what kinds of approaches and arguments? In Cognitive Dimensions of Social Science, Mark Turner offers an answer to these pressing questions: social science is headed toward convergence with cognitive science. Together they will give us a new and better approach to the study of what human beings are, what human beings do, what kind of mind they have, and how that mind developed over the history of the species. Turner, one of the originators of the cognitive scientific theory of conceptual integration, here explores how the application of that theory enriches the social scientific study of meaning, culture, identity, reason, choice, judgment, decision, innovation, and invention.

About fifty thousand years ago, human beings made a spectacular advance: they became cognitively modern. This development made possible the invention of the vast range of knowledge, practices, and institutions that social scientists try to explain. For Turner, the anchor of all social science - anthropology, political science, sociology, economics - must be the study of the cognitively modern human mind. In this book, Turner moves the study of those extraordinary mental powers to the center of social scientific research and analysis.

Cognitive Dimensions of Social Science is a companion volume to Turner's 1996 book from Oxford, The Literary Mind: The Origins of Thought and Language.

Home Page: Mark Turner