Epistemology, the Mind and the Computer

  • Henryk Skolimowski


The three great traditions in the philosophy of mind are: Cartesian, LaMettriean, Kantian. These three traditions have been continued in the twentieth century in a variety of forms, and often under a range of disguises.


Scientific Knowledge Conceptual Change Computer Rationality Scientific Revolution Human Rationality 


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    See in this respect Raziel Abelson’s “A Spade Is a Spade, So Mind Your Language,” in Dimensions of Mind, Sidney Hook, ed. (New York, 1966).Google Scholar
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    Minsky is notorious in simplifying the phenomenon and the behavior of man so that it fits the pre-arranged categories characteristic of the structure of computers. This eagerness to “translate” man into the computer causes him to make outrageous claims such as: (in “I think, therefore I am,” Psychology Today April 1969)“… the mind-body problem is not so much an elusive and difficult philosophical problem as it is an elusive and difficult engineering problem.” About will or spirit or conscious agent he says: “Naturally, we can’t say anything meaningful about it.” With his philosophical sophistication, perhaps Minsky can’t. But to suggest this as if it were a matter of fact is to ignore a philosophical tradition which has existed for some millenia. What is shocking about Minsky’s attitude is not some specific philosophical issues which he tackles in the wrong way, but his total arrogance toward philosophy.Google Scholar
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    The deep structure “is the underlining abstract structure of a sentence that determines its semantic interpretation.” Put in other words, “it is the deep structure underlining the actual utterance, a structure that is purely mental, that conveys the semantic content of the sentence.” “Deep structures,” we are told, “are fundamentally the same across languages, although the means for their expression may be quite diverse.” Quite consistently, Chomsky is unwilling to commit himself to say something more specific about these structures.Google Scholar
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    See Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Foundations of the Unity of Science, Vol. II, No. 2 (1962).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henryk Skolimowski
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MichiganUSA

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