The Computational Theory of Mind: Old Problems for New Paradigms

  • James Russell


It is difficult not to be impressed by the capacities of computers. Not only can they simulate actors, language-users and object-perceivers — as well as chess-players and psychiatrists more particularly — some of them are making inroads into the literary avant-garde. RACTER writes:1

I was thinking… as you entered the room just how slyly your requirements are manifested. Here we find ourselves, nose to nose as it were, considering things in spectacular ways, ways untold even by my private managers. Hot and torpid, our thoughts revolve endlessly on a kind of maniacal abstraction, an abstraction so involuted, so dangerously valiant, that my own energies seem perilously close to exhaustion.

In fact exhaustion is unknown to RACTER which can write a short novel of pulp standard in around 5 minutes. The sceptic would say ‘The speed is not at all surprising when you consider that the machine doesn’t need to think’.


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Notes and References

  1. 3.
    J. Searle, ‘Mind, brains and programs’, The Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 1980, 3, pp. 417–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 8.
    See G. Boudreaux; ‘Freud and the nature of unconscious mental processes’, Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 1977, 7, pp. 1–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 11.
    M. Polanyi, ‘The logic of tacit inference’ Philosophy, 1966, 41, pp. 1–18. Also: Polanyi, Personal Knowledge (New York: Torch Books, 1964).Google Scholar
  4. 12.
    R. Dreyfus, What Computers Can’t Do: a Critique of Artificial Intelligence (New York: Harper & Row, 1972).Google Scholar
  5. 18.
    See M. A. Boden, Purposive Explanation in Psychology (Brighton: Harvester, 1972).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 21.
    L. Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations (Oxford: Blackwell, 1953) para. 293.Google Scholar
  7. 23.
    D. C. Dennett. Content and Consciousness (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969) p. 94.Google Scholar
  8. 24.
    D. C. Dennett. ‘Why you can’t make a computer that feels pain’, Synthese, 1978, 3, pp. 415–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 28.
    R. E. Fikes and N. J. Nilsson. ‘STRIPS: a new approach to the application of theorem proving to problem solving’, Artificial Intelligence, 1971, pp. 189–208.Google Scholar
  10. 35.
    For a discussion see D. C. Dennett, Brainstorms (Brighton: Harvester, 1979), pp. 30–3.Google Scholar
  11. 37.
    J. Fodor, ‘The mind-body problem’, Scientific American Jan 1981, pp. 124–32. The inverted spectrum is associated with the work of N. Block (Philosophical Review 1980) and S. Shoemaker (Philosophical Studies 1975). Although I have presented Putnam as a functionalist I should say that in his Reason, Truth and History (Cambridge University Press, 1981) he regards the inverted spectrum problem as showing the impossibility of functionalism as a complete theory of mind.Google Scholar
  12. 41.
    See P. H. Winston. The Psychology of Computer Vision (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1975).Google Scholar
  13. 46.
    Z. W. Pylyshyn, E. W. Elcock, M. Marmor, and P. Sander, ‘Explorations in perceptual-motor spaces’, Proceedings of the Second International Conference of the Canadian Society for Computational Studies of Intelligence (Toronto: University of Toronto, 1978).Google Scholar
  14. 51.
    R. Schank and R. Abelson, Scripts, Plans, Goals and Understanding (Hillsdale, New Jersey: Erlbaum, 1977).Google Scholar
  15. 53.
    T. Winograd, Understanding Natural Language (New York: Academic Press, 1972).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© James Russell 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • James Russell
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LiverpoolEngland

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