Un projet Labex Arts H2H
en /fr
2012 - 2016

Deciphering the codes in which human cognition is written: a meta-information view
By Hyundeuk CHEON

Ewha Womans University


Although the attempts to understand how the mind works can trace back to the ancient philosophers, the “cognitive revolution” in the 1960s made a breakthrough in understanding the architecture and operations of the mind. One of the core themes, shared by different academic disciplines with their own methods and theories, was that cognition could be best understood in terms of information processing. It was obvious that the underlying theme was in part motivated by the development of computer and information technology. According to this perspective, the brain is analogous to the hardware of a computer and cognition is to its software; thus, we can figure out how the mind works by deciphering the codes in which cognition is written.

In this paper, I take a step forward by dividing the mind’s codes into (the first order) information and meta-information, where meta-information, roughly speaking, is information of information. In particular, I will argue, we can shed a new light on our understanding of conceptual representation and reasoning by revealing how some pieces of meta-information work. I begin with the notion of meta-information and its classification into three types: structural, substantial, and contextual meta-information. Then, I demonstrate that the two-layered informational structure can serve as a useful tool to improve our knowledge of how the human cognition works in ordinary or scientific contexts. In this paper, I focus on one of substantial meta-information: information of ontological categories carried with concepts. I will show that each concept carries its own ontological status and that the ontological information functions as a meta-information to explain or regulate the first order information, which is constitutive of concepts. The psychological reality of the ontological meta-information is supported by various kinds of empirical evidence: the linguistic, the neurological, and the educational evidence. Finally, the implications of the two-layered structure will be discussed.


About the author

Hyundeuk CHEON is an assistant professor in the Institute for the Humanities at Ewha Womans University, Seoul, South Korea. His research interests include philosophy of science and technology, philosophy of cognitive science, and posthumanism. He is currently working on how robotics and neuroscience affect on our understanding of human beings. Cheon received a Ph.D. in history and philosophy of science from Seoul National University and worked as a research fellow in the Institute for Cognitive Science. He was formerly a visiting scholar at the University of Pittsburgh.


Key words

Information; meta-information; concepts; cognition; ontology.

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Un projet Labex Arts H2H