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Middle English cognicion, from Anglo-French, from Latin cognition-, cognitio, from cognoscere to become acquainted with, know, from co- + gnoscere to come to know


  • 1: cognitive mental processes; also : a product of these processes


Cognition is a concept used generally to signify the process of thought. In psychology and cognitive science it refers to information processing by an individual's mindal functions. Other interpretations of the meaning of cognition link it to the development of concepts; individual minds, groups, organizations, and even larger coalitions of entities, can be modelled as societies which cooperate to form concepts.

"It should be recognized that the fact of life comes first, its evaluation or interpretation later. The human first lives and subsequently thinks about his living. In the cosmic economy, insight precedes foresight.[1]

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The term cognition (Latin: cognoscere, "to know" or "to recognize") refers to a faculty for the processing of information, applying knowledge, and changing preferences. Cognition, or cognitive processes, can be natural or artificial, conscious or unconscious. These processes are analyzed from different perspectives within different contexts, notably in the fields of anesthesia, neurology, psychology, philosophy, and computer science. Within psychology or philosophy, the concept of cognition is closely related to abstract concepts such as mind, reasoning, perception, intelligence, learning, and many others that describe capabilities of the mind and expected properties of an artificial or synthetic “mind”. Cognition is considered an abstract property of advanced living organisms and is studied as a direct property of a brain (or of an abstract mind) on at the factual and symbolic levels.

In psychology and in artificial intelligence, cognition is used to refer to the mental functions, mental processes (thoughts) and states of intelligent entities (humans, human organizations, highly autonomous machines). In particular, the field focuses toward the study of specific mental processes such as comprehension, inference, decision-making, planning and learning. Recently, advanced cognitive research has been especially focused on the capacities of abstraction, generalization, specialization and meta-reasoning. This involves such concepts as beliefs, knowledge, desires, preferences and intentions of intelligent individuals. [2]

The term “cognition” is also used in a broader sense to define the act of knowing, or knowledge, and may be interpreted in a social or cultural sense to describe the emergent development of knowledge and concepts within a group, culminating in both thought and action.