The structure and dynamics of cognitive orientation: A motivational approach to cognition

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Introduction: Some assumptions about cognition and motivation, The theme of cognition has evoked interest and admiration in individuals for many thousands of years, regardless of whether they studied it in philosophy and science or depicted it in art and myths. In different cultures, a special god was appointed for representing it, which at least in some cultures was a woman (e.g., Pallas Athena, Sophia, or the Mahavidyas). Notably, one feature characterizing cognition in these different settings is its aloofness, the special elevated status it enjoys, its sublimity, and the atmosphere of aristocratic reservation surrounding it. This may be due to the fact that cognition is traditionally upstage, representing as it were higher levels of functioning than other psychological systems. It could also be because of its intimate relations with the brain, which is itself a mysterious organ. This aloofness of cognition is still evident, despite the fact that evidence is accumulating about the ties, even interactions, of cognition with other domains – mainly emotions. Nevertheless, the impression is that cognition has not lost its peculiar separateness. However, there is a set of assumptions that supports very different conclusions about cognition. In contrast to the envisaged restricted relations of cognition with different spheres of action and behavior, the relations of cognition with the brain are not viewed as restricted in any way. Regardless of the espoused model of the brain, it is evident that cognition uses the major parts of the brain; moreover, the development of cognition is related closely to the development of the brain in the course of evolution (Geary, 2005; Roth & Wullimann, 2001). These facts suggest that it is hardly reasonable or likely that a function that uses such large parts of the brain has only limited involvement in the daily occurrences and processes of the organism as a whole. It is more likely that the involvement of cognition in the different domains and functions of the organism is pervasive, and most probably in both directions; that is, it affects the different processes and is also affected by them. This assumption is the first of several that guide this chapter.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCognition and Motivation
Subtitle of host publicationForging an Interdisciplinary Perspective
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9781139021463
ISBN (Print)9780521888677
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2011


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