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6.1: Chapter Overview

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  • In the previous three chapters I have presented the elements of three different approaches to cognitive science: classical, connectionist, and embodied. In the current chapter I present a review of these elements in the context of a single topic: musical cognition. In general, this is done by developing an analogy: cognitive science is like classical music. This analogy serves to highlight the contrasting characteristics between the three approaches of cognitive science, because each school of thought approaches the study of music cognition in a distinctive way.

    These distinctions are made evident by arguing that the analogy between cognitive science and classical music is itself composed of three different relationships: between Austro-German classical music and classical cognitive science, between musical Romanticism and connectionist cognitive science, and between modern music and embodied cognitive science. One goal of the current chapter is to develop each of these more specific analogies, and in so doing we review the core characteristics of each approach within cognitive science.

    Each of these more specific analogies is also reflected in how each school of cognitive science studies musical cognition. Classical, connectionist, and embodied cognitive scientists have all been involved in research on musical cognition, and they have not surprisingly focused on different themes.

    Reviewing the three approaches within cognitive science in the context of music cognition again points to distinctions between the three approaches. However, the fact that all three approaches are involved in the study of music points to possible similarities between them. The current chapter begins to set the stage for a second theme that is fundamental to the remainder of the book: that there is the possibility for a synthesis amongst the three approaches that have been introduced in the earlier chapters. For instance, the current chapter ends by considering the possibility of a hybrid theory of musical cognition, a theory that has characteristics of classical, connectionist, and embodied cognitive science.

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