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Demystifying mysteries. How metaphors and analogies extend the reach of the human mind

Boudry, Maarten and Vlerick, Michael and Edis, Taner (2021) Demystifying mysteries. How metaphors and analogies extend the reach of the human mind. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Some philosophers have argued that, owing to our humble evolutionary origins, some mysteries of the universe will forever remain beyond our ken. But what exactly does it mean to say that humans are ‘cognitively closed’ to some parts of the universe, or that some problems will forever remain ‘mysteries’? First, we distinguish between representational access (the ability to develop accurate scientific representations of reality) and imaginative understanding (immediate, intuitive comprehension of those representations), as well as between different modalities of cognitive limitation. Next, we look at tried-and-tested strategies for overcoming our innate cognitive limitations. In particular, we consider how metaphors and analogies can extend the reach of the human mind, by allowing us to make sense of bizarre and counterintuitive things in terms of more familiar things. Finally, we argue that this collection of mind-extension devices is combinatorial and open-ended, and that therefore pronouncements about cognitive closure and about the limits of human inquiry are premature.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Boudry, Maartenmaartenboudry@gmail.com
Vlerick, Michael
Edis, Taner
Keywords: new mysterianism; metaphors; analogies; cognitive closure; imaginative understanding; representational access
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Mathematics > Epistemology
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science > Concepts and Representations
Specific Sciences > Cultural Evolution
Depositing User: Maarten Maarten Boudry
Date Deposited: 03 Feb 2021 17:37
Last Modified: 03 Feb 2021 17:37
Item ID: 18675
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Mathematics > Epistemology
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science > Concepts and Representations
Specific Sciences > Cultural Evolution
Date: 2021
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/18675

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