On the relevance of cognitive neuroscience for community of inquiry

Mark Weinstein, Dan Fisherman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Community of inquiry is most often seen as a dialogical procedure for the cooperative development of reasonable approaches to knowledge and meaning. This reflects a deep commitment to normatively based reasoning that is pervasive in a wide range of approaches to critical thinking and argument, where the underlying theory of reasoning is logic driven, whether formal or informal. The commitment to normative reasoning is deeply historical reflecting the fundamental distinction between reason and emotion. Despite the deep roots of the distinction and its canonization in current educational thought contemporary cognitive neuroscience presents a fundamental challenge to the viability of the distinction and thus to any effort that sees education for reasonable judgment to be based on the remediation of cognition in isolation from its roots in the emotions. Cognitive neuroscience looks at the deep connections between emotion and memory, information retrieval and resistance to refutation. This conforms with earlier studies in experimental psychology, which showed resistance to changing beliefs in the face of evidence, including evidence based on personal experience. This paper will look at the recent research including speculations from neurological modeling that shows the depth of connection between, emotions, memory and reasoning. It will draw implications for dialogic thinking within a community of inquiry including systematic self-reflection as an essential aspect of critical thinking.

Original languageEnglish
JournalChildhood and Philosophy
StatePublished - 2019


  • Cognitive psychology
  • Community of inquiry
  • Emotion
  • Reason


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