Cognition and Reality

  • F. Tito Arecchi Emeritus of Physics-Università di Firenze and INO-CNR, Firenze, Italy


We discuss the two moments of human cognition, namely, apprehension (A),whereby a coherent perception emerges from the recruitment of neuronal groups, and judgment(B),that entails the comparison of two apprehensions acquired at different times, coded in a suitable language and retrieved by memory. (B) entails self-consciousness, in so far as the agent who expresses the judgment must be aware that the two apprehensions are submitted to his/her own scrutiny and that it is his/her task to extract a mutual relation. Since (B) lasts around 3 seconds, the semantic value of the pieces under comparison must be decided within that time. This implies a fast search of the memory contents. As a fact, exploring human subjects with sequences of simple words, we find evidence of a limited time window , corresponding to the memory retrieval of a linguistic item in order to match it with the next one in a text flow (be it literary, or musical, or figurative). While apprehension is globally explained as a Bayes inference, judgment results from an inverse Bayes inference. As a consequence, two hermeneutics emerge (called respectively circle and coil). The first one acts in a pre-assigned space of features. The second one provides the discovery of novel features, thus unveiling previously unknown aspects and hence representing the road to reality.

Author Biography

F. Tito Arecchi, Emeritus of Physics-Università di Firenze and INO-CNR, Firenze, Italy

Arecchi has been active in laser physics since the 1960’s, first at CISE-Milano-Italy, then from 1970 as full university professor (up to 1976 at University of Pavia, after that at the University of Firenze, where he was also the head of Istituto Nazionale di Ottica). In 1965 Arecchi introduced the photon statistics as a tool to characterize coherence and laser fluctuations; in 1982 he provided the first evidence of deterministic chaos in lasers and then studied different dynamical behaviors   introducing the classification of lasers into class A, B and C   and exploring different control and synchronization methods. In the 1990’s he explored pattern formation in extended optical media, providing the first evidences of optical vortices and quasi-crystals . Since 2000, Arecchi is investigating the physics of cognitive processes.

Arecchi is author and co-author of more  than 450 scientific papers,  plus 12 books

How to Cite
ARECCHI, F. Tito. Cognition and Reality. Substantia, [S.l.], v. 2, n. 1, p. 41-50, mar. 2018. ISSN 2532-3997. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 20 apr. 2018. doi:
Research Articles