Symbol Manipulation Reexamined: An Approach to Bridging a Chasm

  • J. A. EasleyJr.
Part of the Topics in Cognitive Development book series (TOPCOGDEV, volume 2)


Epistemologists have long sought a firm basis on which to found knowledge. People are not firm and mechanical data-processing systems, but quivering masses of sensitive protoplasm. To be sure, our tissues are mechanically integrated with a loosely jointed framework of bone, and they communicate with each other electrically through an exceedingly complex system of neurons, glial cells, and other channels. But as a consequence, we function like trigger-sensitive amplifiers of minute events of both internal and external origin, and we are subject to all manner of delusions and illusions. How can such systems produce, let alone contain, certain knowledge? The answer to this fundamental epistemological problem, from the point of view that dominates Western science and philosophy today, comes to this in brief: individually, man’s claims to knowledge are to be mistrusted, but collectively, because of the syntactic and semantic properties of social codes called language, reliable, if not certain, knowledge is possible.


Propositional Logic Object Language External Memory Symbol Manipulation Logical Empiricist 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Jean Piaget Society 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. A. EasleyJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.Urbana-Champaign CampusUniversity of IllinoisUrbanaUSA

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