Tim van Gelder is an associate professor of philosophy and a fellow of the Philosophy Department at the University of Melbourne. Van Gelder is one of the foremost proponents of dynamicism or dynamic cognition in cognitive science. This is a theory of cognition that proposes that dynamical systems theory provides a better model (or metaphor) for human cognition than the 'computational' model. So for example, he tries to show that the Watt governor is a better metaphorical description of the way humans think than, say, a Turing machine style computer. Dynamicism is closely associated with connectionism. Both approaches are suspicious of representationalism, with dynamicism being even more suspicious than connectionism in this respect. Some dynamicists argue that representations are simply not necessary to model cognition.
More recently, van Gelder has been working on reasoning and critical thinking. With the Reason! Project at the University of Melbourne, he has developed a method of teaching critical thinking which reliably achieves substantial gains as measured by pre- and post-testing with objective tests. The method is based on argument mapping, the graphical display of argument structures. Van Gelder is a leading proponent of argument mapping in both educational and professional contexts.
van Gelder, T. J. (1999) 'Dynamic approaches to cognition'. In R. Wilson & F. Keil ed., The MIT Encyclopedia of Cognitive Sciences. Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 244-6.
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