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4 May 2010

What is Cognition?

Cognition is the refining of knowledge and the justifying of decisions through rationales. Rationales are thoughts linked by such techniques as reason and logic. They impact how we view things, both tangible and intangible. Cognition gives us a way to express ourselves, to express our desires, wants and needs.

Cognition is a process occurring primarily on a conscious level. “Refining” and “justifying” indicate that process. Since the formulation of thoughts occurs primarily in our conscious, cognition gives form to what our intuition creates. This form allows us to change our world in accordance with our desires, wants and needs.

Cognition is the refiner of virtually every decision we make, because almost everything we think, do or say needs some sort of refinement to give it focus and specificity before it can effectively impact our world. In this way, cognition crystallizes into a goal, objective or some other tangible form the direction that our intuition gives us. It’s similar to the way an agenda, a score or a script gives form to a meeting, a song or a play in accordance with the tone we want for them.

As an example of what cognition is, consider a message that seeks to influence people. It will contain a rationale using reason and logic to demonstrate the positive benefits of adopting the message. However, if the rationale is not understandable it will appear as unreasonable, illogical, incomplete or indecipherable. As a result, the message will have difficulty influencing people. Witness what happens to a computer when the coding does not follow the language or logic of a certain protocol. The same thing happens with people when confronted by rationales they do not understand. That is cognition at work.

2 Responses

  1. Mike, I really like your definition of “cognition” (your first sentence), because implicit in your definition is the fact that cognition can focus on, and is influenced by, logical and/or emotional information, even though it is not emotional information itself.
    I believe, and I think you are also implicitly asserting, that If our goal is to understand and unleash the power of our own mind, it becomes important to regularly distinguish between our emotional (“intuitive”) awareness and our logical understandings. And, as implied in your writings I’ve read so far, to make this distinction is not so we can try to subjugate one form of awareness to the other form, but instead so we can learn to listen to both our logic and our feelings, side-by-side. Would you agree?
    Respectfully yours,
    ~Norman Jentner

    1. Yes, Norman, that is exactly the point. It’s about cognition and intuition working together. Sometimes one will be more dominant than the other. It’s situational. At the moment, business is cognitively dominant. This is causing poor decisions and lost opportunities. Of course, much of this is because numbers are easier to interpret and more concrete than employees are.

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