Humans are genetically, biologically and socially storytelling animals: narrative structures are a fundamental way of experiencing, exploring and thinking about reality (...). Society and culture shapes the human mind, but our brain and body - our whole biological structure - comes with structures, dispositions and biological functions and mechanism that also, to a large degree, influence the way we experience reality and communicate about it. (...) Cognitive theory is based on the theory of evolution, and evolution clearly shows that we adapt to change over time, but also that some basic features remain fairly stable. Cognitive theory is not about eliminating the need for cultural and social research into art, media and communication, it is not about substituting culture with nature. On the contrary, as for instance, Brothers has put it (Brothers, 1997, xxi-xii), it is about bridging the ‘gulf between biology and culture’ between the social and cultural mind and the brain and body as a biological phenomenon.
Cognitive film theory has pointed out how our minds and bodies are strongly pre-disposed for narrative structures and for certain emotional structures that are triggered when we are confronted with stories, images and human interaction. One might say that the ancient Greeks understood the connection between form, person and emotions when they defined good communication as creating a relation between ethos (personal credibility), logos (the power of arguments) and pathos (the power of emotions). But as many scholars in both cognitive film theory and linguistics have pointed out, the role of emotions - at least from a modern cognitive theoretical point of view - has been neglected in modern film and media theory and linguistics. (...) Emotional layers in documentaries appear through narrative structures, through character identification, through audio-visual effects, but they are also directly connected to content and themes with links to real life, to our decisions to act directly or indirectly when confronted with human and social problems.... Read More