1) The Discovery of Truth Depends on the Thoughtful Reading of Authoritative Texts
   For the Middle Ages, all discovery of truth was first reception of traditional authorities, then later-in the thirteenth century-rational reconciliation of authoritative texts. A comprehension of the world was not regarded as a creative function but as an assimilation and retracing of given facts; the symbolic expression of this being reading. The goal and the accomplishment of the thinker is to connect all these facts together in the form of the "summa." Dante's cosmic poem is such a summa too. (Curtius, 1973, p. 326)
   2) The Many Functions of Reading
   The readers of books . . . extend or concentrate a function common to us all. Reading letters on a page is only one of its many guises. The astronomer reading a map of stars that no longer exist; the Japanese architect reading the land on which a house is to be built so as to guard it from evil forces; the zoologist reading the spoor of animals in the forest; the card-player reading her partner's gestures before playing the winning card; the dancer reading the choreographer's notations, and the public reading the dancer's movements on the stage; the weaver reading the intricate design of a carpet being woven; the organ-player reading various simultaneous strands of music orchestrated on the page; the parent reading the baby's face for signs of joy or fright, or wonder; the Chinese fortune-teller reading the ancient marks on the shell of a tortoise; the lover blindly reading the loved one's body at night, under the sheets; the psychiatrist helping patients read their own bewildering dreams; the Hawaiian fisherman reading the ocean currents by plunging a hand into the water; the farmer reading the weather in the sky-all these share with book-readers the craft of deciphering and translating signs. . . .
   We all read ourselves and the world around us in order to glimpse what and where we are. We read to understand, or to begin to understand. We cannot do but read. Reading, almost as much as breathing, is our essential function. (Manguel, 1996, pp. 6-7)
   3) Theories of Language Processing during Reading
   There is a pitched battle between those theorists and modellers who embrace the primacy of syntax and those who embrace the primacy of semantics in language processing. At times both schools have committed various excesses. For example, some of the former have relied foolishly on context-free mathematical-combinatory models, while some of the latter have flirted with versions of the "direct-access hypothesis," the idea that skilled readers process printed language directly into meaning without phonological or even syntactic processing. The problems with the first excess are patent. Those with the second are more complex and demand more research. Unskilled readers apparently do rely more on phonological processing than do skilled ones; hence their spoken dialects may interfere with their reading-and writing-habits. But the extent to which phonological processing is absent in the skilled reader has not been established, and the contention that syntactic processing is suspended in the skilled reader is surely wrong and not supported by empirical evidence-though blood-flow patterns in the brain are curiously different during speaking, oral reading, and silent reading. (M. L. Johnson, 1988, pp. 101-102)

Historical dictionary of quotations in cognitive science. . 2015.


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