Hypocognition – something to think about…

So, somewhere I saw the word hypocognition. And so I googled…

My spell checker tells me that hypocognition isn’t a standard word. It’s surge in popularity stems from George Lakoff’s recent book. According to Lakoff, hypocognition is our inability to see things that we’re not conditioned to see or to comprehend ideas for which we have no framework.


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7 Responses to Hypocognition – something to think about…

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  3. “…hypocognition is our inability to comprehend ideas for which we have no framework.”

    Like ‘fun activism’? ‘Strategic activism’? ‘Leadership’?


    • dwighttowers says:

      “spontaneity requires planning”, “accountable grassroots action” etc…. There’s a story – possibly apocryphal – that the first Aborigines to see Captain Cook’s ship the Endeavour didn’t react/panic even really notice it. It was only when a landing party – strange coloured men in a boat not much bigger than their canoes- came close that they “saw” what was going on. If it isn’t true, it SHOULD be…

      Best wishes

  4. rhizome says:

    Seems like an important concept for activists as quite often we’re expecting people to change the way they see the world, and to do so urgently.

    What we often don’t do is try to understand the obstacles that stop them changing their view (the “because I have this view everyone must be able to have it, and if they don’t they’re at fault” approach. A few people who are ripe for change will do so, but the majority won’t, indeed can’t, cos of hypocognition. Nice to have a word for it, thanks! So the challenge is how to empathetically bring people to a state in which they can change. That’s got to involve meeting them where they’re at… When I have a definitive answer to this I’ll share it, but I may be some time!

    The folk at smartMeme http://smartmeme.org/ have something useful to say on this (but it doesn’t quite work for me yet)

    • dwighttowers says:

      Thanks, and I look forward to your post on this. I am having second thoughts on this, to be honest. I wonder if it is a bit too close to the term “false consciousness”, which some people (especially the doctrinaire Marxists!) pull out when you don’t agree with them. If someone turned around to me and said “ah, well, you are incapable of seeing the world my way because of hypocognition” I would call them a patronising &*£$%er! That’s not not to say it’s not a useful analytic term – if someone doesn’t understand the basics of energy flows etc, how can they understand an argument about imperialism etc. If someone doesn’t know the history of Western colonisation etc (and most people seem not to) they will wonder why all the ‘third world’ nations are poor and pissed off.
      What would work? Well, youtube videos (since nobody seems to read anymore, not even those cool cartoon “…. for Beginners” books. The RSA’s cartoon series is pretty cool. Anyway, enough blather, I shall now stop by rhizome…

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