Pinker Response to Descartes | Cognitive Science & AI | BSc.CSIT | 4th and 5th Semester

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pinker response to descartesPinker Response to Descartes
Subject: Cognitive Science And AI | BSc.CSIT (TU)
Fourth And Fifth Semester | Tribhuvan University

Pinker Response to Descartes
The mind, for Steven Pinker as for almost all other cognitive scientists, is computational. This does not mean they think it works just like the computer you’re reading this on, but that has representations, which it transforms in a rule-governed, algorithmic way. Moreover, the mind is not a single, general-purpose computer, but a collection of them, of “mental modules” or “mental organs,” specialized as to subject matter, each with its own particular learning mechanism (“an instinct to acquire an art,” in a phrase Pinker lifts from Darwin). This modularity is evident in studying how children learn, and also from tracing the effects of brain lesions which, if sufficiently localized, impair specific abilities depending on where the brain is hurt, and leave others intact. Just as, baring developmental defects, wounds, or the ravages of disease, all human beings have the same physical organs, we all have the same mental organs, whose general structure is, again, the same from person to person.

By insisting on the complexity of the mind, Pinker claims that;

  • thinking is a kind of computation used to work with configurations of symbols,
  • the mind is organized into specialized modules or mental organs,
  • the basic logic of the modules is contained in our genetic program,
  • that natural selection shaped these operations to facilitate replication of genes into the next generation

Pinker thus shows that the computational model of mind is highly significant because it has solved not only philosophical problems, but also started the computer revolution, posed important neuroscience questions, and provided psychology with a very valuable research agenda

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