ERIC Number: ED334200
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
Mental Representations: Reopening the Debate.
Lindner, Reinhard W.
This paper debates the usefulness and plausibility of the notion of cognitive structures. The cornerstone of the theory of cognitive philosophy is the claim that the epistemic process is mediated by mental representations that constitute both the knowledge base and interpretations of sensory experience of individuals. Cognitive theorists typically distinguish mental representations from symbolic representations in order to avoid problems of reference and interpretation. The paper concludes, however, that the concept of a representation and a symbol are equivalent, and neither can fully specify or self-interpret. The conclusion that the representational view of cognition is a scientific dead end does not bode well for the application of cognitive theory to educational problems. It is argued that scientific progress in the domain of cognition requires a distinction between symbolic and specification information. The significance of the distinction lies in the fact that at least some of the knowledge that individuals acquire must be obtainable independent of cognitive interpretation or mediation. If the epistemic process is to be understood, focus should be on determining the information present in experience and how that information is processed symbolically by the learner. A 41-item list of references is included. (SLD)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Reports - Evaluative; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Knowledge Acquisition; Mental Representation; Subject Content Knowledge
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Chicago, IL, April 3-7, 1991).