Original Research

Preliminary thoughts on the relevance of the research field of cognition for Practical Theology

Ferdi P. Kruger
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 37, No 1 | a1535 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v37i1.1535 | © 2016 Ferdi P. Kruger | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 September 2015 | Published: 17 June 2016

About the author(s)

Ferdi P. Kruger, School for Ecclesiastical Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa


In this research from the vantage point of Practical Theology, the author focusses on the importance and the possible value of the concept of cognition for further research. The philosophical roots of the concepts of knowledge and understanding are highlighted in a qualitative manner by means of a short selection from the insights of philosophers from the era of the Greek Philosophy to the nineteenth century. The insights of Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Descartes and Kant are utilised. The purpose was to indicate the importance of the concepts of knowing and cognition from an early stage. Research from the field of cognitive science also received attention in this research. The purpose of this discussion is to indicate that cognition is not a mere intellectual activity. Cognition is important in the processes of perspective-making and moral choices. Cognitive distortions could possibly endanger people’s ability to have the right cognition about people, events and life itself. The concept of phronesis, as the concept that comes the nearest to the essence of cognition, is also investigated from the vantage point of Philippians 2:5 and Romans 12:3. Wisdom thinking is really important in research on the acts of people from a practical theological vantage point. Cognition must be regarded as people’s attempt to make sense out what they already know and also out of what they are observing. In the final part of the article, fields for possible further investigation are highlighted in order to make the statement that practical theologians can consider the fact to reclaim the field of investigation on cognition in further research. The importance of cognition for liturgy, homiletics, pastoral care and youth ministry is indicated.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article is undertaken from a practical theological vantage point in order to highlight the importance of the concept of cognition for further research. In this article a discourse between Practical Theology, Philosophy and Cognitive Psychology is undertaken. Important aspects were indicated and also the importance of the concept of phronesis. The importance of understanding and insight were also indicated. The concept of phronesis was discussed from Philippians 2:5 and Romans 12:3. Finally, practical theological perspectives were offered in which the importance of cognition for the various fields in Practical Theology was indicated.

Keywords: cognition; understanding; knowing


Cognition; Understanding;Knowing; Knowing


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