Intro to Cognitive Magick

Intro to Cognitive Magick



Image Description: Chart of the 6 fields of cognitive science: philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, language and anthropology


Cognitive science is a multidisciplinary field comprised of the six disciplines of philosophy, psychology, language, artificial intelligence, anthropology and neuroscience.

Magick, as defined by Spookywood, is the design of function. This article is a brief review of the magick of cognitive science and an introduction to its structure and purpose.







Thales of Miletus (624BC to 546BC) is known to be the first philosopher. Thales was a Greek mathematician and astronomer who also participated in science. He is sometimes regarded as the Father of Science for rejecting mythology as theory and instead pursuing the scientific method. Thales participated in investigating the cosmos and is believed to have been one of the first thinkers to inspire Western enlightenment.

Thales and other natural philosophers were interested in the reasons for existence being so complex and diverse. He contributed to Aristotle's work studying eclipses and calculating that the Earth as being spherical based on the shape of its shadow on the moon. He also rejected the old gods and thought that the movement of existence what due to chemicals, not gods (Patricia O'Grady, 2022). 

Philip A. Pecorino, Ph.D. (2022), describes philosophy as being an activity of thought caused by the chemical synthesis that occurs with cognitive analysis. He outlines philosophy as a 9-part process involving:


  • Making more sense about confusing things
  • Discovering previously unknown reasons for our assumptions
  • Revealing presuppositions (something that is expected to happen before another thing can happen)
  • Discerning what is important
  • Testing perspectives
  • Clarifying distortions and illusions experienced in reality
  • Hunting for logical clues and reasons
  • Assessing world views
  • Questioning conceptual frameworks



One purpose of philosophy is to plan effectively. Philosophy is supposed to orientate people with our place in existence and help us discover a sense of purpose and belonging.

Philosophy is critical assessment, debate, concept-mapping and problem-solving. It is used to develop, organize, express and defend our claims and ideas (John Rudisill, 2011). Philosophy tells us a lot about the ideas and beliefs of the people around us and over time.


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Psychology developed around World War II in 1945. Although it is a new field, the cognitive traits leading up to the design of psychology are related to aspects of human cognition. Rene Descartes (1595 - 1650) is a philosopher who worked on the question, "Are mind and body the same thing, or are they different?" ( R. Eric Landrum, 2022).

Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920) developed the first psychology lab in Germany and published Principles of Physiological Psychology as well as the first academic journal of psychology. Wundt was interested in consciousness and introspection. Structuralism is a theory that design and structure are more important than function. Early psychology influenced by structuralism assessed the structures of consciousness.

Functionalism is a Western philosophy of mind that concentrates on the purpose of behavior and consciousness. It narrows in on our individual differences, the functions of mental processes and what they accomplish in action. Psychologist William James and evolutionist Charles Darwin were influential thinkers in its publication in the mid-late 1800s.

Cognitive psychology is a more recent branch of psychology being used in the development of artificial intelligence and computer science. It studies mental processing mostly in relation to memory, thinking, perception and attention. "Cognition” comes from the Latin word “ cognoscere” meaning "to know". Cognitive psychology works with two assumptions:

1. Human cognition can be understood using the scientific method

2. Information processing models and the rules of algorithms can also be used to understand human cognition

Cognitive psychology involves human perception, attention, learning, memory, concept formation, reasoning, judgment and decision-making, problem solving, and language processing. It also studies social and cultural factors like emotion, consciousness, animal cognition and evolution (Zhong-Lin Lu and Barbara Anne Dosher, 2007).


Image Description: GIF of an Animated Feminine Chalk Board Portrait Sketch



Psychology is still developing to be fully regarded as scientific. Cognitive psychology is moving the ball on this. Early psychology is generally interested in the mental experience. Lisa Osbek (2020) at the University of West Georgia said that, even if not found to be empirically unifiable, psychology is beneficial to people and society when conceptually related to other disciplines. 

Psychology, when matched with philosophy and physiology and existence overall, does help us better conceptualize the human experience. Psychology works to provide language and strategies for collaborating in addition to helping us comprehend our mind and behavior.







Neuroscience was founded in 1969 with the establishment of the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) as a field of biomedicine. Largely, neuroscience is the scientific study of the nervous system (NS). Botanist Matthias Jakob Schleiden only discovered that plants are made of cells in the 18th century. It wasn't until 1838 that humanity learned how cells are building blocks of life (Society for Neuroscience).

Francis O. Schmitt created the Neurosciences Research Program (NRP) in 1962 to connect the mind, brain and behavior through research. The Society for Neuroscience was formatted after American democracy and sought to rectify the imbalance between biology and . By the 1970s, the neural system was finally being studied as its own discipline.

Neuroscientists form experiments and tests using imaging technologies like magnetic resonance imaging to gather data about the neural system. Neuroscientists perform data analysis with mathematics, biology and computer science. Based on data analytics, neuroscientists develop treatments and theories regarding neurological processes and conditions.



As put by Adele Diamond and Dima Amso for Current Directions in Psychological Science, one major role of neuroscience is to demonstrate that biology isn't destiny. There are remarkable opportunities to change the brain, behavior and body. Neuroscientists continue the work of psychologists by studying the mechanisms underlying cognitive and behavioral development.

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development stated in 2018 that there are more than 1,000 disorders of the brain and nervous system. Neuroscience helps us understand how to best make sense of and support ourselves in our cognitive development.


 Image Description: GIF of a Magnetic Resonance Imaging brain scan






Artificial intelligence (AI) is intelligence generated by machines rather than animals or humans. Joscha Bach, AI architect and cognitive science, defines intelligence as an ability to make a representational model. Intelligence involves memory, learning, perception, reasoning, attention and abstractions.

AI evolved from the idea that human thinking is mechanical and can be modeled by machines. It was launched with the physical symbol system hypothesis that made the claim that thinking is symbolic. Symbols of images we receive from the environment, mathematic numerals and even the concept maps drawn through philosophy are designs encoded into the brain that spark particular chemical expressions of thought. In a computer or machine learning system, the data is symbolic, and the expressions are more data rather than thoughts.

Alan Turing was interested in the 1950s about whether or not machines could ever think, and if so, if that infers that humans are biological machines. Thomas Hobbes was a philosopher who argued that thinking is a manipulation of symbols. When machines achieve this, this is known as symbolic AI. Modern AI research and cognitive science is finding that there aren't only symbolic ways of learning but also implicit knowledge based on senses and motor processes (Ranjeet Singh, 2019).

Symbolic AI can also be blended with connectionism. Connectionism incorporates dense artificial neural networks for data complexity. This is more suitable for the type of learning and reasoning that humanity really wants to achieve with AI moving forward.



AI is being used in a wide-range of technologies. Self-driving vehicles, healthcare equipment, educational tools, business algorithms — plenty of modern society's productivity is sourced by AI.

AI makes decisions that would normally involve human intelligence using real-time data and algorithms. The algorithms analyze massive amounts of data instantaneously and generate more sophisticated models of reality while learning and adapting to it ( & 


Image Description: GIF of an Animated Hand Coming out of a box labeled "artificial intelligence" 







Linguistics is the scientific investigation of the structures of language. This includes: sound production and perception, sound patterns, word and sentence structure, word meaning, language change, relationships between language and society, how computers process human language and how humans use language (University of Buffalo, 2022).

Ferdinand de Saussure (1857 - 1913) was a Swiss linguist who thought that any element of language exists in a network of concepts and signifiers. Noam Chomsky is a well-known philosopher, MIT professor and cognitive scientist who modernized linguistics. He's been awarded numerous prizes for making progress in the field and participating in research to study how language is a natural part of the mind in addition to the structures of grammar.

Linguistics is designed as a systematic study of language using anthropology, grammar books, statistics, etymology, phonetics and the organization of logical thinking.



Linguistics is studied to help us make sense of how we process information and make connections. Spoken languages existed before written documents. Sound can act as a symbol and signal of characteristics of the environment that inform our perception. Language can also occur more subtly as unconscious cues such as with subliminal messaging or hypnosis.

Linguistics helps us understand the ways that people communicate and interpret the human experiences. Approaching language with the scientific method helps us clarify its complexity. Linguists share data with the public to help us gain clearer insight into the mechanisms of communication. By studying linguistics, we expand our knowledge of it and can experience new capacities of communication. Linguistics is a part of writing, forensics, speech pathology, entertainment, science and more.


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Anthropology originates from an interest in society and cultural development. It is a systematic and scientific study that focuses on human ecology, race, relationships, social classes, politics, physiology, behavior and geography over time. Anthropology comes from the Latin word anthropologia which means “the study of humanity” as well as the Greek anthrōpos meaning “human being."

There are various schools of thought within anthropology as there are with the other disciplines of cognitive science. It's important to pay attention to key word concepts like structuralism, functionalism, phenomenology, symbolism, materialism and post-structuralism. There are different concentrations within each school of thought that adds context to the study of human culture and society.

Anthropology, like other sciences, involves field work, interviews, data and textual analysis, cultural immersion and lab experimentation.



Anthropology contributes opportunities to examine reality cross-culturally. Its especially important when mapping out the most effective ways of managing relationships within society and across communities. Anthropology benefits our social health and wellness, security, planning and understanding of the human condition.

Anthropology informs explanations of who we are as a species and individuals. It took a lot to get here, and a lot will come after. Anthropology takes us into the past while preparing for the future. Anthropologists bring about change in the infrastructure of society by researching cultures and relations of people, nature and society. The public can respond by updating our perceptions, integrating with society's complexity and contributing anthropologic interests.






The cognitive experience may not be central to magick, but it is central to any human magickian's magick. Cognition involves thinking, memory, schemata, reasoning, sensation and the neural nets responsible for our dreams, judgment, personality and sorrows. 

To be a magickian means to be especially interested in the design of function. What better place to start than with the human experience? Cognitive science dynamically studies our personal and social experiences. Cognitive science is interested in religiosity, psychedelics, brains of other thinking beings, universal structures, telepathic communication — any topic you can come across in an occult metaphysical bookshop or forum.

Occult magick commonly involves methods of self-actualization in addition to interests in neural manipulation. Cognitive science is a direct field to help draw insightful maps about mental processes and ways of navigating the human experience that complement occult study.






Goel, Ashok K. (2021). Looking back, looking ahead: Symbolic versus connectionist AI. Georgia Institute of Technology. 

Holcombe, John C. (2007). A Short history of linguistics. Textetc.

Landrum, Eric R. Brief history of psychology. Department of Psychology, Boise State University.

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2018). Why should scientists study neuroscience?

O’Grady, Patricia. (2022). Thales of Miletus. The Flinders University of South Australia.

Osbeck LM. General psychology as common ground and point of view: Enduring and evolving features. Review of General Psychology. 2020;24(1):6-17. doi:10.1177/1089268019893974

Rudisill, John. (2011). The Transition from Studying Philosophy to Doing Philosophy. Teaching Philosophy 34:3. The College of Wooster.

Singh, Ranjeet. (2018). The Rise and fall of symbolic AI. Towards Data Science.

Society for Neuroscience. (2022). The Creation of neuroscience: the Society for Neuroscience and the Quest for Disciplinary Unity. 

Thagard, Paul (2008). Cognitive science. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Waskan, Jonathan. (2022). Connectionism. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

West, Darrel M. & Allen, John R. (2018). How artificial intelligence is transforming the world. Brookings.

Wikipedia contributors. (2021, December 8). Neuroscientist. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 00:27, March 24, 2022, from

Wikipedia contributors. (2021, October 4). Physical symbol system. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 18:52, March 24, 2022, from

Zhong-Lin Lu and Barbara Anne Dosher (2007) Cognitive psychology. Scholarpedia, 2(8):2769.

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