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Indigenous Notions of Interconnection and Formation by the World  

Carl Mika

In various ways, the notion of interconnection between all things takes on importance for all aspects of Indigenous life, and therefore, writers in the field of Indigenous education often allude to the priority of interconnection for teaching and learning. The theoretical lens on interconnection, in Indigenous writing, tends to fall into two camps: one, that the world is comprised of distinct entities that are nevertheless connected; and, the other, that one thing is constituted by the entire world. In both cases, Indigenous theories of interconnection can be contrasted with, and even galvanized by, Western rationality, which overwhelmingly tends to fragment things in the world from each other. Education itself for the Indigenous participant may then be more a reflection of the fact of all things—its constitution of the self and all other things—than simply a transmission of knowledge. In this sense, the problem of “education” for Indigenous peoples may not lie only in the fact that education is separated out from other disciplines in dominant Western practice, but also that its attitude towards the world, with its focus on the mind, and with the clarity that fragmented things bring, does not reflect interconnection. It is unlikely that dominant Western modes of education can fully incorporate the values and ethics of Indigenous interconnection. In both pre-tertiary and tertiary education, however, some advances towards holistic and interconnected approaches are possible. In pre-tertiary, a focus on the development of the rational mind (which, from an Indigenous perspective, sits unspoken at the base of Western education) can be moderated somewhat by looking to the human self as a culmination of the world (and vice versa); and, in tertiary education, participants may revise notions of ethics and proper writing to incorporate those things that exist beyond human knowledge.


Semantic Compositionality  

Francis Jeffry Pelletier

Most linguists have heard of semantic compositionality. Some will have heard that it is the fundamental truth of semantics. Others will have been told that it is so thoroughly and completely wrong that it is astonishing that it is still being taught. The present article attempts to explain all this. Much of the discussion of semantic compositionality takes place in three arenas that are rather insulated from one another: (a) philosophy of mind and language, (b) formal semantics, and (c) cognitive linguistics and cognitive psychology. A truly comprehensive overview of the writings in all these areas is not possible here. However, this article does discuss some of the work that occurs in each of these areas. A bibliography of general works, and some Internet resources, will help guide the reader to some further, undiscussed works (including further material in all three categories).


Gestalt Psychology  

Horst Gundlach

Gestalt psychology is an holistic approach to psychology launched in 1910 by three psychologists: Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Köhler, and Kurt Koffka. It was conceived to oppose elementary or atomistic psychology, the conception that psychical processes consist of elements whose associations produce the contents experienced in the mind or soul. Instead, Gestalt psychology holds that configurations or, in German, Gestalten, not these hypothetical elements, are the primary material underlying experience. Beginning with research in perception, the Gestalt approach was soon applied to other fields of psychology. Gestalt theory, inspired by field theories in physics, tried to lay a common groundwork for psychology, physiology, and physics. The Gestalt movement originated in Germany, but the three protagonists for personal and political reasons resettled in the United States where the movement became an important force combatting the dominance of behaviorism. The Gestalt approach was especially fruitful in empirical psychology, but it did not fulfill the promise of turning psychology into a unified science based on a common theoretical ground.


Foundations of Philosophical Functionalism  

Lawrence A. Shapiro

Philosophical functionalism, as distinct from the psychological school of functionalism that enjoyed popularity around the turn of the 20th century, is a theory about the nature of mental states. That is, functionalism offers an account of which conditions must be satisfied for something to count as a belief, or a desire, or a pain, or an itch, or a fear, or a memory. Functionalism is thus a metaphysical doctrine about mental states, that is, a doctrine concerning what makes something a mental state. “Metaphysical,” in this context, should not be taken to suggest anything mysterious. Chemistry is a metaphysical doctrine in just the same sense as functionalism: it is a theory that offers an account of which conditions must be satisfied for something to count as, say, a pure chemical substance rather than a mixture. As philosophical theories go, functionalism has been fantastically successful. Its contemporary form traces to seminal work that H. Putnam initiated in the 1960s, and it remains in early 21st century the most widely accepted theory of the nature of mental states among philosophers in the Anglo tradition. According to functionalism, the conditions necessary and sufficient for something to be a mental state are specified in terms of functional role. Functionalists have disagreed about the correct basis on which functional descriptions of mental states should rest, with the result that functionalism is better conceived as a family of closely related theories about the nature of mental states rather than a single uniform view. Briefly, the idea of functional role can be usefully illustrated by consideration of an artifact, such as a corkscrew, the nature of which is defined in terms of the function of removing corks. What it is to be a corkscrew is to perform this functional role. Likewise, the functionalist claims, what it is to be a mental state is to perform the functional role characteristic of a belief, or a desire, or a pain, and so on.


Cultural Variance and Invariance of Age Differences in Social Cognition  

Li Chu, Yang Fang, Vivian Hiu-Ling Tsang, and Helene H. Fung

Cognitive processing of social and nonsocial information changes with age. These processes range from the ones that serve “mere” cognitive functions, such as recall strategies and reasoning, to those that serve functions that pertain to self-regulation and relating to others. However, aging and the development of social cognition unfold in different cultural contexts, which may assume distinct social norms and values. Thus, the resulting age-related differences in cognitive and social cognitive processes may differ across cultures. On the one hand, biological aging could render age-related differences in social cognition universal; on the other hand, culture may play a role in shaping some age-related differences. Indeed, many aspects of cognition and social cognition showed different age and culture interactions, and this makes the study of these phenomena more complex. Future aging research on social cognition should take cultural influences into consideration.