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Where the Sun Never Shines. Emerging Paradigms of Post-Enlightened Cognition

In this paper, I elaborate on deliberations of “post-enlightened cognition” between cognitive neuroscience, psychology and artificial intelligence research. I show how the design of machine learning algorithms is entangled with research on creativity and pathology in cognitive neuroscience and psychology through an interest in “episodic memory” and various forms of “spontaneous thought”. The most prominent forms of spontaneous thought - mind wandering and day dreaming - appear when the demands of the environment abate and have for a long time been stigmatized as signs of distraction or regarded as potentially pathological. Recent research in cognitive neuroscience, however, conceptualizes spontaneous thought as serving the purpose of, e. g., creative problem solving and hence invokes older discussions around the links between creativity and pathology. I discuss how attendant attempts at differentiating creative cognition from its pathological forms in contemporary psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and AI puts traditional understandings of rationality into question.