Volume 13, Issue 2, Fall 2016
Cognitive Inhibition and the Conscious Assent to Truth
A Newmanian Perspective
When must a specific cognitive habit be called upon to solve a problem? In the subject’s learning process, “knowing-to” is connected with a conscious particular judgment of truth or “aha” moment enacting a new behavioral schema. This paper comments on recent experiments supporting the view that a shift from automatic to controlled forms of inhibition, involving conscious attention, is crucial for detecting errors and activating a new strategy in complex cognitive situations. The part that consciousness plays in this process agrees with its philosophical description as “judge of truth”, and can thus be regarded as an essential precursor to the development of higher cognitive habits. In this regard, John Henry Newman’s explanation of human assent to truth, for which our consciousness of self is always prior, proves to be decisive.