Acheronta  - Revista de Psicoanálisis y Cultura
The authority of cognitive psychology: deformation versis outright critique
Angel J. Gordo-Lopez


This article focuses on the ways cognitive psychology has drawn upon knowledge and metaphors from cybernetics and information theory over time. The partial and subjective examination undertaken here will briefly look at the way cognitive psychology speaks with (psycho-) authority in post/modern society. This is not a comprehensive review of cognitive psychology constructed around different critiques of cognitivism in social psychology (e.g. Edwards and Potter, 1992), ecological psychology (e.g. Gibson, 1986, 1966; Heft, 1989; Costall and Still, 1989), biology (Maturana, 1978, 1980; Varela, 1988), ethnomethodology (Garkinkel, 1967; Heritage, 1984; Coulter, 1979a, 1979b), artificial intelligence (Watt, 1993), anthropology (Lave, 1988; Suchman, 1987), and developmental psychology (Werstch, 1985, 1990; Rogoff and Wertsch, 1984).

While I do not intend to deny the important (and 'complex') consequences (1) of these critiques, I will argue that a historical and deconstructive reading of the foundations and dynamics of cognitive psychology reveals the shifting and unstable (psycho-) character of its knowledge. The argument presented here will revolve around the modernist quest for foundations implicit in scientific enterprises, and the shifting character of its analogies and foundations. Specifically, I explore some of the connections made within the cybernetic discipline, and cognitive psychology within it, rather than to limit the analysis to the adequacy otherwise of practices. That is, deformation rather than outright critique.


Notes on the context and origins of cognitive psychology

It is common practice for psychologists to compare humans with machines. Although mechanical metaphors are a mark of the modernist period, machinelike analogies are not exclusive to contemporaneous psychology. Ancient Greek philosophers and British empiricist scholars depicted the human being as a tabula rasa. This was inspired by scribes' wax boards and every single piece of information was seen as a mark of knowledge. However, it was in the modernist period that rationality, observation and progress became congenial companions with the metaphor of the machine. As Gergen (1991:38) states, modernity, with the help of scientific psychology, will try to 'answer the ancient challenge of the Delphic oracle: Know thyself', because:

If the physical world was subject to rational and objective scrutiny, and if progress could be made toward revealing the essence of art, architecture, and music, then should it not be possible as well to discover the basic character of human nature?

Modern psychology undertakes the task of illuminating the nature of the basic self, while introspectionism tried to treat the mind as an external object. As F. Varela et al. (1991) explain, the explicit subjectivism implicit in the introspectionism left experimental psychology with a profound distrust of self-knowledge as a legitimate procedure in psychology. From the 1920s onwards psychological interest has, until recently, centred on the relationships between inputs and outputs over time. The organism, the self and its mind were depicted as black boxes unable to be studied or predicted by behavioural science.

After World War II, the behaviourist domination of North American psychology was threatened. The unsatisfactory answers given by behaviourism to 'superior behaviours' such as intelligence and creativity, resulted in a return to the study of the functioning of consciousness. New interests focused on the study of meaning, mental processes and their mediation with the surrounding environment. This modification of interests, which progressively substituted the model of the animal with the machine, took place within the behaviourist psychological approach. Post-behaviorists such as Tolman and Hull began to gradually consider the pragmatic effect of mental images. There was an increasing need for images of mental processes, such as cognitive maps, in the study of learning from a behavioural perspective (2)

As mentioned above, the mechanical metaphor of the self is not new to the present century. The behavioural trend strengthened the conception of the human being as machine-like. The first reformulations of the behavioural creed informed the birth of 'cognitive psychology' (CP). As F. Varela et al. (1991:46) point out, the computer metaphor had liberating effects. The computer metaphor breached the behaviourist orthodoxy and again admitted into psychology the long-suppressed common sense understanding of mental processes.

CP was an emergent property of an interdisciplinary matrix. This matrix included neuroscience, linguistics, artificial intelligence, philosophy, anthropology, and psychology. The development of cybernetics (3) during and after World War II provided an interdisciplinary language which gathered together (under the label of cognitive science) these independent and, until then, fragmented sciences.

At this point it is worth noting again that the birth of cybernetics and cognitive science (Galison, 1994), and in particular the cognitive directions psychology was to take, is undetachable from its military history (Noble, 1989). As Gardner (1985) states in his history of the cognitive revolution, there was a dependent relationship between the new directions mainstream psychology was to take, and weapon development. Gardner (1985) also notes that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology came to the conclusion that there were important analogies between the engineering feedback devices and processes to account for the human nervous system's intentional activities. Notions of planned action, intention and feedback developed with highly sophisticated mathematical equations, constituting the antithesis of the behavioural doctrine. Broadbent's (1958) research clearly exemplified the interplay between war and cognition. He was initially involved in aircraft testing and spent the rests of his work trying to fit people into close and analytic systems (Brown, 1995 - personal communication).

Thus, some of the interrelated events which determined the beginning of CP could be indicated: the development of sophisticated equations for the tactical weapons, and the introduction of organismic variables (or black boxes) into behaviouristic input/output models. The new psychological model that resulted from the introduction of these 'mediating variables' arose from a recognition of the past insufficiences of behaviourism. Although CP opted to turn to the mental world in its early phases in the study of intellectual skills, it did not distinguish itself from a more empiricist tradition until the early 1960s. The first phases of CP, as well as their behaviourist and neo-behaviourist predecessors, developed rather mechanistic models of cognitive processes.

This first phase of the development of CP also corresponds with the first studies in information theory. Shannon and Weaver (1949), the founders of information theory, introduced a novel understanding of information which was more preoccupied with form (syntax) than meaning (semantics). From the first origins information theory was concerned with efficency and effectiveness of communication channels, measurement, encoding and transmission. As Jang (1994:18) points out, it was, and still is, 'conceived largely as a tool for studying the efficiency (or inefficiency) of communication channels'.


A first major paradox: subjectivism or scientific objectivism for the study of mind

CP research carried out in the late 1960s offers an ambiguous understanding of reality. For CP reality is the reality that the individual can learn through his/her cognitive schemes because stimuli are never stimuli. What one knows on cognitive accounts in not the world but one's representation, one has to even doubt if they are representations of the world. In other words, the external information is never external information: the same input can be different for different individuals and also for the same individual at different times. Thus reality is the subject's reality, that which a particular individual can perceive (Carretero, 1992). Still worse for a scientific approach based on objectivism, reality is the reality that the individual can learn through his/her cognitive schemes (4). These ideas clearly frustrated earlier empiricist efforts to map mental life. According to the empiricist approach, reality can be determined even by means of introspection, and external reality is the one which is perceived. Moreover, as Gergen puts it:

if stress is laid on what are called 'top-down' processes in information processing, one begins to detect a return to certain romanticist tenets. This reinstatement of romanticism operates so as to undermine the very scientific foundation upon which cognitive science is based. (Gergen, 1991:264, note No. 59)

This notion of reality also contradicts the modernist project which aims for a knowledge of the material world including the knowledge of the person that early experimental psychology sought. The computer metaphor, as Neisser notes 'provided a much-needed reassurance that cognitive processes were real' (Neisser, 1976, quoted in Gergen, 1991:40). Similarly F. Varela et al. (1991:xx) describe this paradox saying that

cognition consists of the representation of a world that is independent of our perceptual and cognitive capacities by a cognitive system that exists independent of the world.

The increasing technological advances after World War II run parallel to the shift from social management strategies based on rational strategies and hierarchies (organic functionalism) to management strategies based on the flow of information and systems dynamics (technological functionalism) (Haraway, 1991). The introduction of cybernetic technology in organisational, educational and psychological knowledge participated in the new vision of the modern world. Hierarchical structures were replaced by social systems represented as open to the continuous flux of information, and therefore, permanently subject to changing dynamics.

A parallel shift can be noted in information theory. The exponents of conventional information theory such as Shannon and Weaver (1949), and their concerns with information effectiveness and quantity, were challenged. Information came to be viewed not as a static value or a thing, but rather information was depicted as a complex forming process. These new understandings of information emphasised the essentially ever-changing, non-localisable nature of information. In a parallel way to changes in CP, information theory began to prioritise the idea of processes rather than structures. This new view of information is based on the active features of flowing information rather than stable and meaningful information (Jang, 1994).

During the late 1960s CP also began to experience a marked epistemological shift. From this moment, CP does not depict the individual and his/her/it cognitive devices as mechanically transposing information from one store to another. The individual is now depicted as a more active information processor able to transform information by means of inter-related cognitive devices. Accounts focus on analyses of selective activities, attention processes, memory retrieval/storage entailed, as the understanding of information, indicating a shift of interest from cognitive products to processes, and from transparent communication and efficiency to complex patterns of information.

Psychology soon incorporated a new set of concepts and information processing models for the explanation of human behaviour as a processor of information. Concepts such as capacity and limitations of information channels, amount of transmitted information, the flux of information, systems, subsystems and strategies used by subjects to achieve targets constituted a new terminology which indicated the redefinition of cognitive metaphor of the human being. This included a significant change in the depiction of the 'subject' of CP. A new version of cognitivism in 1970s, the 'information processing approach', advanced the basis for a new landmark in the history of CP.

The different representation of memory, with attentional representational loops were not seen as separated stores in the new model. Rather they inter-related to each other according to the character of the information. The individual was not now depicted as reactive, but as an active processor of information at different levels depending on their past experience and the flow of information.

Within the information processing (levels) approach the initial debates centred around global and local/analytical models of patterns recognition. Many models of mind were developed depending on how the interactions between these cognitive devices and inputs were theorised. Authors such as Fodor (1983), from a computational model of mind, maintained that 'minds/brains' have separate and independent modules for different types of cognitive processes. In this way, Fodor established the basis for the influential solipsism (5) whereby: (i) the cognitive apparatus is seen as independent of the nature of stimuli; (ii) its structures are genetically given/configured and universal.


A second major paradox: the relationship between input/output

Nevertheless, the 'cul-de-sac' of cognitivism is still even now the issue of how humans recognise information (or 'pattern recognition'). Not only psychology, but cognitive science in both the 'soft' version - i.e. CP - or hard version - i.e. Artificial Intelligence (AI) - has not yet developed a convincing answer to the way humans perceive regularities in the input. This deficiency is more clearly seen in AI and its connections with the information processing approach. The project of AI is to create non-human agents, human-like enough, to work in human society and take their own place and responsibilities. According to Watt (1993:2) many people working in this field use the term 'agent' to describe their systems, implying that these systems 'have a capability for autonomous action'. AI faces similar problems to CP in the coordination between inside/outside. In creating proper non-human agents, AI, as much as traditional CP, has again had to grapple with the matter of consciousness, in recognising that social systems matter for the simulation of cognitive process, and that this has not yet been properly addressed.


Bringing together some critiques of cognitive psychology

According to critical authors such as Bowers (1991), the main features of cognitivism can be regarded as (i) individualism and interiority; (ii) the attribution and possession of representations; and (iii) the computational and information processing metaphor. As Leudar (1991:206) puts it, 'the agents in cognitive science are self-enclosed modules, isolated and strictly autonomous from the environments in which they exist'. The individual is like an information processing device. No reality exists aside from such cognitive devices. Thus cognitivism cannot address the external reality which determines the perceptual aspects of human existence. Nor can it deal with the material actions of the individual in this external world as is indicated by the 'methodological solipsism' formulated by Fodor (1983). Overall, there is a profound lack of theoretical development to coordinate the internal and the external, and for the coordination between individuals.

This section has examined different periods within CP and its computer metaphor, and acknowledged exchanges with cybernetics, information theory, weapon development and AI. I have noted that the introduction of cognitive variables intended to explain the relationships between external reality and the individual's actions, by CP has not provided any satisfactory answer. I will now argue that this lack of theoretical development to explain the coordination between input/output, although the main object of criticism proffered from competing strands, surprisingly, has enabling effects for CP. Following this counter-intuitive view, the next section will throw some deconstructive light on the self-perputating dynamics of CP. It will, at the same time, preface the basis of a methodological style which intend to turn CP's own (hidden) vocabulary against itself. A turn mediated by a deconstructive feel rather than appealing to some exterior set of criteria with which to judge it: that is, deformation rather than outright critique.


From epistemological weakness to the weak thinking of cybernetic epistemologies

The previous section has illustrated the shifting character of the computer metaphor. This section advances some hints on the way the shifting nature of the computer analogies render cognitive psychological knowledges factual and credible. It will be argued, firstly, that it is not only the fictional or real character of human-machine metaphors that prolong the cognitive paradigm and its continous re-presentations, but the steady alliances with AI, cybernetics and therefore, with Western bureaucratic networks of information-managing-control (Haraway, 1991); secondly, that the rhetorics of self-perpetuation within CP, though they speak with authority maintaining modern grand narratives, resemble what Vattimo (1989) referred to as 'weak thinking'. In this pursuit our argument needs to reconsider cybernetic epistemologies and its allies. This is because merely knocking away its metaphysical propositions has proved neither to be rhetorically sufficient nor desirable to sweep it away. In this sense I will argue that a network/relational formation stance seems 'essential' (Brown, 1995 - personal communication).


Rhetorical questions for the development of methodological rhetorics

As mentioned above, the emergence of the open systems perspective was a major influence in the social sciences after World War II. Open systems also affected the epistemological basis and cross-disciplinary work of CP. Jang (1994:21) states that 'Cybernetics, information theory, and open system theory support the common linkage of various disciplines by means of general terms and ideas'. Contrary to closed systems that generate a tendency toward a 'state of entropy', open systems work on the basis of a negative entropy ('negentropy'). As Jang (1994:21) puts it, 'open systems can sustain their own energy level and prevent from breaking down of their own organisations'. This is due to the ability of open systems to import energy from their environment.

Drawing on the analogy of 'negentropy' some rhetorical questions can be posed concerning the self-perpetuating dynamics of CP:

i. why should unresolved questions such as the relationship between inside/outside, which lie at the basis of the epistemological birth of CP, confer strength instead of causing acute crisis within CP? Why do definitions of the real based on cognitive subjectivism reinforce the scientific status of cognitivism?

ii. why are alternative psychological trends which put more emphasis in the co-ordination between the subject and the organisational, political and social structures unable to sweep away a cognitive paradigm which has been dominant for fifty years?

iii. can the shifting nature of the computer metaphors be considered as the 'negentropy' index of CP and its Manichean and relational virtuosity to prevent them from breaking down while ('perversely') mobilising resources from other disciplines? if so,

iv. can the rhetorics of CP be considered a relevant case which informs us of the functioning of complex rhetorical patterns based on 'discontinuity', 'instability', and 'undecidability' rather than in 'smooth' continuous and qualitative modern ways of understanding change? and, finally

v. can we think of CP as a 'weak mode of cybernetics', that is, as an example of the 'polymorphous perversity (6) which mirrors and prolongs the functioning of techno-economic networks in late capitalism?

The 'rhetorical' and indirect style will allow our narrative here to move on without explicitly formulating definitive answers. This style also intends to invite other ways to strike at the rhetorics of cognitivism by asking how it has managed to survive so long when it has presented itself in such a deficient (/'strong') way. Hence, the formulation of these questions at this point, functions to preface a methodological style central to this thesis which interrogates intersections between modern and postmodern rhetorics.


More examples of cognitive psychological negentropy

As I have stated above, in the early 1970s the computer metaphor was 'slightly' reformulated. The picture of the individual was modified resulting in a more active model of information processor (and processes) rather than the previously reactive individual (and product). Some years later, Fodor (1983) put forward the modularity thesis. From this perspective the subject became much more isolated both internally (with independent and genetically constituted modules) and externally (with the act of perceiving as independent of the surrounding environment, including the social).

Recently (cognitivist) authors such as F. Varela et al. (1991) and Carretero (1992) have highlighted the impossibility of considering a unified subject from within the cognitive paradigm. These cognitive approaches draw some connections between traditional cognitive models and psychoanalytic notions. Specifically, they establish analogies between the computer software concept of 'programme' and 'unconscious' (Erdelyi, 1987; Carretero, 1992). For example, F. Varela et al. (1991:48) find two related points between psychoanalysis and cognitivism:

(1) cognitivism postulates mental or cognitive processes of which we are not only unaware but of which we cannot be aware, and

(2) cognitivism is thereby led to embrace the idea that the self or cognizing subject is fundamentally fragmented or nonunified.

Although these sort of connections are currently presented as novel and progressive, an historical reading of the self-perpetuating character of CP indicates that some early cognitivists also drew upon psychoanalysis. A concrete example can be found in Janis (1958), the 'inventor' of groupthinking.

These 'apparently' unexpected alliances (7) have facilitated harmonious rapprochements between CP and psychoanalysis (which some authors have referred to as the 'repressed other' of the discipline of psychology, Burman, 1994; Parker, 1996). These sorts of connections are also facilitated by some adaptationist trends in American 'ego-psychology'. As Parker (in prep.) notes, these trends assume, like the rest of laboratory experimental psychology, that the individual is a self-contained unit that can be studied and understood. But the relevant aspect here is that these suspicious kinds of alliances reveal strong challenges to/and within CP.

The idea of modularity that hypothesises the existence of subsystems in the brain places as central to cognitive science questions the intersection between consciousness and unconsciousness. Stretching the metaphor of computation and modularity, these new attempts embrace and re-represent notions of unconsciousness. Moreover, as F. Varela et al. (1991:51) affirm, 'the cognitivist challenge does not consist simply in asserting that we cannot find the self; it consists, rather, in the further implication that the self is not even needed for cognition'.

Ideas of the groundlessness of the self which were already advanced by authors such as Jackendoff (1987) in his phenomenological approach to cognition or in more recent critical work in critical psychology (e.g. Burman, Gordo-López et al, 1995; Gordo-López, 1995a). This suggests that cognition could be studied only as an emergent phenomenon of self-organising, distributed networks, and was taken up by the influential cognitive scientist Minsky (1985) who rejected the idea of a central agent or self placed inside of our heads.


Examples of radical negentropy within the cybernetic matrix

New lines of inquiry, including networking approaches within sociology of science, radical cognitive science, computer science and distributed artificial intelligence, organisation behaviour, and computer-supported cooperative work, are all undertaking a thorough review of key concepts in cognitive science and associated branches of knowledge. These inquiries have coined neologisms such as situated cognition, distributed cognition and organisational learning. Their main analytic tenets, as Star summarises, are: (i) cognition, as a type of action, is always situated: 'there is no escape from locality of action'; (ii) cognition is distributed and collective: although they may appear to be the product of individual minds 'all the actors and actions involved in the completion of a task become important'; (iii) 'Knowledge and skill are forms of material practice, no less so than building a house or baking a cake' (Star, 1992:396).

The most interesting aspect of these new trends, for this article, lies in the way methodological puzzles serve to deconstruct the foundations of modern rationality of which CP is both an index and an agent. According to Star (1992), these new cognitive threads combine notions such as essence, stability and truth with notions of processes, ambivalence, paradox and negentropy. In other words, the focus here is on the way these approaches combine relational and commodity aspects: for example, and paraphrasing Star (1992), how can these new approaches combine the formal and unnameable, the local and the global, plasticity and durability, the modelling of cognitions, structure and organisation boundaries through the breakdown of (mental, structural and organisational) modelling?

Regarding to the nature of information, and by the hand of Jang's (1994) work, Vattimo (1988) summarises the argument about the nature of the new communication-based society in terms of a 'strong'/'weak' opposition. Vattimo argues that the distinction between modernity and postmodernity is characterised by two modes of thinking: 'strong thinking' and 'weak thinking'. For Vattimo modernity is represented by strong thought, whilst postmodernity is related to weak thought. The following distinction in figure 1 could be sketched (without doubt oversimplified) between the modern and postmodern attitude (which are not necessarily detachable).

Figure 1: Modernity/Postmodernity (based on Jang, 1994)


Derived from the Western Metaphysical tradition which tries to capture the dynamic and the flow of experience and to replace it with static and universal criteria such as essence, stability, truth and origins.

Tools and instruments of categorisation and prediction of variability: traits, stereotypes, roles, gender differences, personality, cognitive schemes, neurological-biological bases of our behaviour...

Knowledge = hard facts, categorial data:

===> thing views

===> being


Understanding of non-categorisable processes of ambivalence, paradoxes, borderland positions.

Weak thinking and research is concerned with insubstantial forms which cannot be readily grasped or controlled (melting boundaries), forms which are not acquired but performed and which are indistinguisable from their context of performance

===> process views

===> becoming in relational spaces

However, I hope to have shown throughout this essay that in the interplay between modernity and postmodernity an unclear distinction can be established when considering, for example, the functioning of power and the strategies of self-perpetuation of some disciplines, such as CP, and mainstream social psychological models of, for instance, sexual and gender differences. It might be argued, as Latour (1993) does, that 'Nous N'Avons Jamais Eté Modernes' or postmodern or viceversa.


Final comments

The methodological style prefaced in this article has highlighted paradoxes discernible from the early developmental stages of the cognitive matrix. I have argued that it is neither the fixed character of the computer analogy nor its adequacy to render a reality existing independent of scientific practices which maintains the dominant position of CP. Part of the rhetorical strength of CP lies in its longstanding alliances with techno-economic networks rather than on any truth or falsity of their (psychological) practices (Latour, 1987; Latour and Woolgar, 1979). The self-perpetuation of these networks, paradoxically, requires a permanent search for new knowledge to prolong their status (Callon, 1991). The functioning of the metaphor allows for the search for new re-presentations of cognitive actors. This re-presentational multiplicity has established different understandings of the actor/network co-ordination. These understandings are not necessarily coherent with their scientific quests into the basis of reasoning and individual cognitive psychological behaviour if we divorce them from technologies of management and control (Gordo-López, 1995a).

Having located this analysis of the interplay between psychology, cybernetics and social theory, I can now preface some hints for a methodological style. This is a style (8)ACHERON3.G__015 which resembles the performative logic of cybernetic machines and black boxes (ranging from torpedos, the guided missile, anti-aircraft director, cognitive devices, to cognitive pedagody in our educational settings...) to change the goals programmed in the course of their performance. This style follows the track of 'performative' and 'networking' trends that emphasise the discursive functioning of change and instability. Hence it might be the case that psychology functions near to the concerns of the postmodern condition and, in particular, to the concerns of weak thought that gives up, at least in the perpetuation of its power dynamics, the modernist quest for foundations or true understandings. Thus, we need, as Lyotard (1984) puts it, 'moves' and 'countermoves' for the understanding of these representation games. Turning our analytical gaze back onto the functioning of CP may provide critical psychologists contested spaces and de/constructive spanners from which articulate alternative readings, knowledges and practices within the functioning of psychological nets.



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I'd like to thank Erica Burman, Ivan Leudar, Steve Brown, Sadie Plant and John Churcher for their comments on early drafts of this paper. I am also indebted to the organisers and attendants to the Curs International 'Psicologia I Postmodernitat' organised by Universitat de Barcelona, December 1995, where similar views were presented and discussed.



(1) I'm indebeted to Steve Brown for the subtitle of this article and some of the ideas in this essay.

(2) Angel J. Gordo-López is with Social and Economic Studies, Bradford University. He may be reached at a.j.gordo-Ló

(3) Including unintended consequences such as to reproduce aspects of 'what' (?) they seek to change.

(4) .However it is arguable that the environment disappeared suddenly from the analysis in cognitive psychology (Leudar, 1995 - personal communication). It was a major concern in Miller, Galanter and Pribram (1960). It completely disappeared by the time of Johnson-Laird's (1974, 1983) perception and language studies. The topic of 'skill' was also an important issue until 1970s, but became eased out. The methodological solipsims by that time became the rule as will be argued later (see Fodor, 1983).

(5) Norbert Wiener (1961) defined 'cybernetics' as the study of systems of control and communication in the animal and the machine. The term 'cybernetics', derived from the Greek kybernetike, which means the 'art of steermanship'. Guilbaud (1959) suggested that the concept '"cybernetics" is the root of various words to do with sailing including Latin words such as gubernaculum (a helm), and gubernator (a helmsman); and the French word gouvernail (a rudder) [...] The derivates of the term have different metaphorical meanings; for instance, govern, governor, government are also political metaphors' (Jang, 1994:21/22). These etymological notes preface the paradoxical set of meanings which informed the distinct but inter-related formulations of cybernetics: human/machine, control/disorder, aprioristic expectations/unexpected outcomes, regularities/differences... from science of control/to control of science (Navarro, 1990). Nevertheless in recent discourses such as Haraway's work (e.g. 1991) cybernetics is interpreted as both a language of power and control as well as the code for instability, transformations, and close to the pstmodern condition, 'a matter of unexpected consequences, unanticipated effects and unintended outcomes' (Plant, 1995:21).

(6) 'In fact some cognitive scientists we/are quite clear that Cognitive Science is about "sense" and not at all about "reference".' (Leudar, 1995 - personal communication)

(7) Despite the fact that there is a relationship between modularity and methodological solipsism the former underpins in history the latter. In fact, modularity is in a sense a logical extension of methodological solipsism into a person. Authors such as Leudar (1995 - personal communication) suggest that modularity re-started with Chomsky (1959, 1974), and one of the reasons was to strengthen disciplinary boundaries between Theory of Generative Grammar (TGG) and CP. Chomsky's structural analysis of language emphasised the creativity and generativity of language use. Chomsky's (1959) most famous and debatable argument was that the momentaneous achievement of language could occur thanks to the existence of an innate mechanism (a Language Acquisition Device - LAD). This invoked device was depicted by early Chomsky's work as biologically pre-programmed and specific to language (for a well elaborate critique of Chomsky's work from a psychological developmental point of view, see Burman, 1994; and Silverstein, 1991).

(8) The notion of 'polymorphously perverse' is originally formulated by Freud (1905) in his Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality to describe the way the infant as a 'polymorphously perverse' obtains sensual pleasure from many regions of the body (Parker, 1993). Numerous analyses in social sciences have drawn upon this notion such as Marcuse's (1968) concept of 'repressive tolerance'.

(9) While discussing the relatively unknown work of the American psychologist Silvan Tomkins (1991-1991), Sedgwick and Frank (1995) offer a well elaborated analysis of the dynamics of consensus formation and cross-disciplinary transmission and alliances within the 'Cybernetic Fold'.

(10) .For a more fully developed analysis of this ('cyberpsychological') style see Burman et. al (1995), Gordo-López and Macauley (1996), Gordo-López (1995a; 1995b) and Gordo-Lopez and Parker (in prep.).

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