Do we have cognition of climate change? As individual observers we have cognition of the weather now, and via memory we can recall past meteorological occurences, make comparisons, induce tendencies. But as individual acts, these cognitive operations are fraught with uncertainty and subject to cognitive bias. If we have access to records and statistics concerning past weather we may be able to project certain conclusions, but meteorolgy is a science if only for the reason that we must know how to interpret the statistics in the light of more general knowledge. Yet we do have good knowledge of global warming, if we accept the model of cognition that goes beyond the individual subject’s face to face encounter with the world.
My problem with R.Scott Bakker’s Blind Brain Theory is that implicitly he regresses to a model of cognition identical in structure to the individualist and naive empiricist subject-object bifurcational encounter. The isolated brain stands in as an instantiation of the subject pole, and it is easy to demonstrate all sorts of errors, biases, misrecognitions, and illusions. Yet the transindividual cognition of science embedded in inscriptions, equipment, and a community of rectification of error was elaborated precisely to permit cognition despite individual fallibility and failings. THe BBT discusses ideally isolated and purified cases of cognition, closing its eyes to the question of the complicated process involved if, for example, the long and abstruse proof of Fermay’s Last Theorem counts as cognition or not. Cognitive science is powerless here as it would have to examine a process of a complexity and sophistication far superior to its own naive stutterings.
Far from “revolutionizing” anything, the BBT regresses us back into the subject-object bifurcation that we were beginning to be able to do without, but puts a modern surface on its age-old paradoxes of scepticism and determinism by expressing them in materialist “brain” language.