Sunday, June 3, 2012

Paul Thagard

Paul Thagard is Professor of Philosophy, with cross appointment to Psychology, Director of the Cognitive Science Program, and University Research Chair at the University of Waterloo. He is a graduate of the Universities of Saskatchewan, Cambridge, Toronto (Ph. D. in philosophy) and Michigan (M.S. in computer science). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Cognitive Science Society, and the Association for Psychological Science, and received a Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize. Thagard's books include The Brain and the Meaning of Life, Mind: Introduction to Cognitive Science, and Hot Thought: Mechanisms and Applications of Emotional Cognitions.

His latest book is The Cognitive Science of Science: Explanation, Discovery, and Conceptual Change.

Last month I asked Thagard about what he was reading.  His reply:
Much of my academic reading these days is connected to a long-term project to build a cognitive social science that explains social phenomena using mechanisms that operate at many levels. I recently read Randall Collin’s impressive Interaction Ritual Chains, which provides a rich account of how group interactions in many domains, e.g. religion, politics, and everyday life, can produce changes in group solidarity and standards by increasing emotional energy. These social mechanisms complement well the psychological, neural, and molecular mechanisms for emotion that I have been investigating.

To consider the meshing of social and neuropsychological mechanisms, I have been doing a case study of the Occupy Movement, reading four books that have already been published about it. The most informative was Occupying Wall Street: The Inside Story of an Action that Changed America, by a collective called Writers for the 99%.

I have also been enjoying Patrick Wilcken’s new biography, Claude Lévi-Strauss: The Poet in the Laboratory.
Learn more about Paul Thagard's The Cognitive Science of Science at The MIT Press website.

Visit Paul Thagard's University of Waterloo faculty webpage and blog for Psychology Today.

The Page 99 Test: The Brain and the Meaning of Life.

The Page 99 Test: The Cognitive Science of Science.

--Marshal Zeringue