“Rules of the Mind” Book by John Robert Anderson


Ways in which people get to know something and can use their knowledge in their practical activities have always been of interest to scholars. It is one of the greatest mysteries of the world to know how one person can learn a poem by heart and another one is unable of it, or how a person is able of repairing cars while another one understands nothing about it. John Robert Anderson (1993) tries to clear out these issues of human knowledge and cognition in his book Rules of the Mind which is the subject under consideration in this paper. The author presents several views of cognition and provides readers of his book with cognitive insights discussed below.

Main Body

To start with, the main idea of the book, i. e. the very thesis, is focused on the need to extend the theories of knowledge acquisition behind the limits of either exclusively procedural or production knowledge theories to the theory that would comprise the best ideas from all the relevant views of scholars (Anderson, 1993). For Anderson (1993) ACT-R becomes such a theory that explains the production system theory of acquiring knowledge.

The essence of this ACT-R theory lies in the statement that if people understand that objects of reality are changing than they should have at least approximate notions of these objects (Anderson, 1993). In other words, before speaking of the relations of objects one should understand what those objects are.

This is namely the major argument of the book by Anderson (1993) as far as the author goes deeper in his consideration of the knowledge acquisition by trying to explain the initial stage of cognition which lies in obtaining the notions and simplest definitions of objects of the reality (Anderson, 1993). Only after this the actual cognition of the relations of those objects is possible. To support this, Anderson (1993) resorts to the experimental data showing that people perceive objects as such before they realize how and why these objects are connected and related to each other (Anderson, 1993).

Needless to say, the book by Anderson (1993) provides numerous insights for every person studying cognitive psychology, and this paper discusses the three of them. First of all, Anderson (1993) singles out two types of long-term knowledge – declarative and procedural – with the only difference between them being the context in which they are used as declarative knowledge is mainly used for explaining one’s position while procedural knowledge is purely practical. The second insight is that the declarative memory is divided into the smallest knowledge units called chunks by Anderson (1993). Finally, the smallest unit of procedural knowledge is production, in which the definition of the knowledge type into theoretical and practical ones is evident once again.


Thus, the book by John Robert Anderson (1993) is a rather skillful and innovative work in the area of cognitive psychology. Trying to combine the best features of procedural and production theories of knowledge acquisition, Anderson (1993) manages to explain in his book the ways in which the simplest cognitive processes start the whole cycle of the interaction of human beings with the objective reality. The division of knowledge into procedural and declarative is also innovative; it allows the reader to see the distinct line between the practical and theoretical knowledge of people and understand the ways in which theory and practice can be united in cognitive psychology.


Anderson, J.R. (1993). Rules of the Mind. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

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