The Cognitive Revolution at Fifty Plus or Minus One

Harvard University, Science Center, Cambridge, MA

A Conversation with Jerome Bruner, Susan Carey, Noam Chomsky, and George Miller (introduced by Steven Pinker) to honor exhibit in William James Hall at Harvard on the cognitive revolution.

Around fifty years ago, Harvard was the site of a revolution—the Cognitive Revolution. By the middle of the 20th century, psychology was no longer “the science of mental life,” as William James had called it, but “the science of behavior.” But in the postwar years, new ideas from linguistics, computation, and information theory overturned this world view and led to a rediscovery of the mind. The turning point was 1956, when three epochal publications by researchers with Harvard ties forever changed the field: George Miller’s The Magical Number Seven Plus or Minus Two, Jerome Bruner’s A Study of Thinking (with Jacqueline Goodnow and George Austin), and Noam Chomsky’s Three Models for the Description of Language, based on work he did as a Junior Fellow before his move to MIT the year before. Soon Miller and Bruner would set up the Harvard Center for Cognitive Studies, a hothouse for new ideas whose alumni went on to found cognitive science programs all over the world.

Join us in a thrilling and historic event, as the three cognitive revolutionaries, and one of their most distinguished students, share their thoughts about the cognitive revolution on the occasion of its fiftieth anniversary (plus or minus one) and the inauguration of a new permanent exhibit at Harvard. They will speak on the fascinating history of the cognitive revolution, what it meant for science then, and what it means to us today. If you are at all interested in the mind, the brain, or the history of science, this happening will not disappoint!

Click here for the video of this event, and here for the graphicscaptions, and inauguration photos  of an exhibit in William James Hall at Harvard on the cognitive revolution.