Précis of connectionism and the philosophy of psychology

Terence E Horgan, John Tienson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Connectionism was explicitly put forward as an alternative to classical cognitive science. The questions arise: how exactly does connectionism differ from classical cognitive science, and how is it potentially better? The classical "rules and representations" conception of cognition is that cognitive transitions are determined by exceptionless rules that apply to the syntactic structure of symbols. Many philosophers have seen connectionism as a basis for denying structured symbols. We, on the other hand, argue that cognition is too rich and flexible to be simulable by the exceptionless representation-level rules that classicism requires. However, this very richness of cognition requires syntactically structured representations - what philosophers call a language of thought. The natural mathematical characterization of neural networks comes from the theory of dynamical systems. We propose that the mathematics of dynamical systems, not the mathematics of algorithms, holds the key to how cognitive structure and cognitive processes can be realized in the physical structure and processes of a network.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-356
Number of pages20
JournalPhilosophical Psychology
Volume10
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Cognition
Cognitive Science
Mathematics
Psychology
Physical Phenomena
Language
Philosophy of Psychology
Connectionism
Philosopher
Symbol
Dynamical Systems
Syntax
Conception
Language of Thought
Classicism
Cognitive Processes
Syntactic Structure
Physical
Neural Networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

Cite this

Précis of connectionism and the philosophy of psychology. / Horgan, Terence E; Tienson, John.

In: Philosophical Psychology, Vol. 10, No. 3, 1997, p. 337-356.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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