Conceptualising Experience: What Human Expressions Suggest about Cognition

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Marcus, Donna

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Sutton, John

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The topic of the thesis is cognition. More specifically, its subjects are human conceptualisations considered from the perspective of sensory experiences. These conceptualisations are investigated by examining their material expressions such as those found in language, science and art, industrial products and various other artifacts. The analysis of such expressions suggests the presence of two distinct ways in which humans think: the multi-scale arrangement understood in terms of nested scales (e.g. decimal system or tissues, organs and their systems) which suggests the process of "comparison", and the single-scale framework understood as a network (e.g. nets, sets and graphs) which suggests the process of "concatenation". When combined into a schema, these two prcesses provide the basis for composite expressions such as " a few tasty apples" or "20 miles per hour" understood as associations of "intensity/value" within the smaller-scale unit with "extent" at the larger scale. The framework can potentially explain many properties of human experience and its expressions. Because such expressions are very common, I argue that the schema is likekly to originate from the brain's sensory maps, understood as a collection of specialised sensory cells (or their surrogates) brought together to a common place in the brain to facilitate their interaction by means of diffusion. The proposed interpretation of cognition places strong emphasis on the physical interactions between individual cells of the collection which developed means to move together in order to protect the integrity of the form which makes this movement possible. By investigating human expressions it is possible to reveal the physical structure of cognition and see it as a process not that different to any other physical process.

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Thesis (PhD Doctorate)

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Queensland College of Art

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Human conceptualisations

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