Foundations Of Cognitive Science


The proposition is a concept borrowed by cognitive psychologists from linguists and logicians. The propostion is the most basic unit of meaning in a representation. It is the smallest statement that can be judged either true or false. Anderson (1990) gives the following example of a setence divided up into its constituent propositions:

"Nixon gave a beautiful Cadillac to Brezhnev, who was the leader of the USSR."

This sentence can be divided into three propositions:

  1. Nixon gave a Cadillac to Brezhnev.
  2. The Cadillac was beautiful.
  3. Brezhnev was the leader of the USSR.

A popular view in cognitive psycyhology is that the mind is structured much like a language. In such a structure, propositions function as basic units of representation--or the building blocks--of the mind. It is the content of the propositions, the connections between propositions, and the strength of the connections between propositions that determine the structure of mind.


  1. Anderson, J.R. (1990). Cognitive psychology and its implications (3rd ed.). New York: W. H. Freeman.