Connectionism, analogicity and mental content

Acta Analytica 22 (22):111-31 (1998)
In Connectionism and the Philosophy of Psychology, Horgan and Tienson (1996) argue that cognitive processes, pace classicism, are not governed by exceptionless, “representation-level” rules; they are instead the work of defeasible cognitive tendencies subserved by the non-linear dynamics of the brain’s neural networks. Many theorists are sympathetic with the dynamical characterisation of connectionism and the general (re)conception of cognition that it affords. But in all the excitement surrounding the connectionist revolution in cognitive science, it has largely gone unnoticed that connectionism adds to the traditional focus on computational processes, a new focus – one on the vehicles of mental representation, on the entities that carry content through the mind. Indeed, if Horgan and Tienson’s dynamical characterisation of connectionism is on the right track, then so intimate is the relationship between computational processes and representational vehicles, that connectionist cognitive science is committed to a resemblance theory of mental content.
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