According to Francis Wolff in his book Aristote aux neurosciences, published by Fayard and commented by Roger-Pol Droit in the newspaper Le Monde 12 November, there are four forms of man in the history of western thought.
- The first is that of the Rational man, who like Aristotle uses words and ideas in an organised manner which become language, or Logos, and allows for reasoning.
- The second is that of the Eternal man whose soul is completely attached to his body, when men turned to God and constructed cathedrals in order to live through God.
- The third man turned to others and tried to analyse society with social studies, through relational and structural analysis. This was the man subjugated to historical determinism and the universality of values.
- The last, modern man, is that of an animal like any other, explained by biological evolution, determined by genetics, controlled by neurones and guided by cognitive ability.
After the Neuronal Man of Jean Pierre Changeux, today Annick Weil- Barrais speaks about the Cognitive Man. This Man realises that this is neither the language nor soul, nor the social body that are most important, but it is his brain that allows him to perceive, communicate, remember and learn. This does not eliminate the other approaches, they are complimentary, but it seems today that the priority is cognitive ability.
For a long time how the brain works has been an enigma. After thirty years of work in cognitive science, we understand better and can measure its importance.
From a long natural evolution, our neuroendocrine system deeply affects our capacity to learn, as demonstrated by Jean-Didier Vincent. That our brain processes emotions similarly to physical disgust and moral disgust, for example, not to mention original teaching strategies
It is this line of thinking that we try to share during DEMOS Institute conferences, in partnership with the magazine Science Humaines, and also with le Collège de France. Especially the work of Professor Berthoz about decisions, as well as that of Christian Schmidt who worked on an analysis of the neuro-scientific behaviour of traders.
To conclude, Cognitive Man adds to his knowledge functionality and thus operational capability.
The picture« Neurons, In Vitro Color ! », Creative Commons licence available here.