In this lucid and meticulously researched book, Stuart Shanker discusses the theories expounded by Wittgenstein on the philosophy and psychology of cognitive science and the development of artificial intelligence.
In recent years we have seen a dramatic shift, in several different areas of communication studies, from an information-theoretic to a dynamic systems paradigm. In an information processing system, communication, whether between cells, mammals, apes, or humans, is said to occur when one organism encodes information into a signal that is transmitted to another organism that decodes the signal. In a dynamic system, all of the elements are continuously interacting with and changing in respect to one another, and an aggregate (...) pattern emerges from this mutual co-action. Whereas the information-processing paradigm looks at communication as a linear, binary sequence of events, the dynamic systems paradigm looks at the relation between behaviors and how the whole configuration changes over time. One of the most dramatic examples of the significance of shifting from an information processing to a dynamic systems paradigm can be found in the debate over the interpretation of recent advances in ape language research (ALR). To some extent, many of the early ALR studies reinforced the stereotype that animal communication is functional and stimulus bound, precisely because they were based on an information-processing paradigm that promoted a static model of communicative development. But Savage-Rumbaugh's recent results with bonobos has introduced an entirely new dimension into this debate. Shifting the terms of the discussion from an information-processing to a dynamic systems paradigm not only highlights the striking differences between Savage-Rumbaugh's research and earlier ALR studies, but further, it sheds illuminating light on the factors that underpin the development of communication skills in great apes and humans, and the relationship between communicative development and the development of language. Key Words: apes; ape language research (ALR); brain development; co-regulation; communication; dynamic systems; language development; symbols. (shrink)
The Greeks had a ready answer for what happens when the mind suddenly finds the answer to a question for which it had been searching: insight was regarded as a gift of the Muses, its origins were divine. It served to highlight the Greeks'' belief that there are some things which are not meant to be scientifically explained. The essence of insight is that it comes from some supernatural source: unpredicted and unfettered. In other words, the origins of insight are (...) unconscious, and hence, unexplainable. Wittgenstein felt that, as long as there continues to be a noun expression like to have a moment of insight which functions in the same way as the expression to have a hunger pang, thereby inducing us to treat moment of insight as the name of an experience, then people will keep stumbling over the same puzzling difficulties and find themselves staring at something which no explanation seems capable of clearing up. To the founders of AI, this argument reeked of obscurantism. The moment of insight, they felt, is indeed a mystery, but it is one that begs to be explained in causal terms. Indeed, the problem of insight served as one of the leading problems in the evolution of AI. Hence anyone interested in the foundations of AI is compelled to examine the manner in which the early pioneers of the field sought to explain the eureka experience. In this paper I will look at some of the key conceptual developments which paved the way for Newell and Simon''s theory of GPS: the fundamental changes in the notion of the unconscious — the emergence of the cognitive unconscious — which took place in the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century. In so doing, I hope to clarify what Wittgenstein may have had in mind in his strictures against mechanist attempts to analyse the nature of insight. (shrink)
Volume 9 of the Routledge History of Philosophy surveys ten key topics in the Philosophy of Science, Logic and Mathematics in the Twentieth Century. Each article is written by one of the world's leading experts in that field. The papers provide a comprehensive introduction to the subject in question, and are written in a way that is accessible to philosophy undergraduates and to those outside of philosophy who are interested in these subjects. Each chapter contains an extensive bibliography of the (...) major writings in the field. Among the topics covered are the philosophy of logic; Ludwig Wittgenstein's Tractatus; a survey of logical positivism; the philosophy of physics and of science; probability theory and cybernetics. (shrink)
Reading through Mechanica1 Intelligence, volume III of Alan Turing's Collected Works, one begins to appreciate just how propitious Turing's timing was. If Turing's major accomplishment in ‘On Computable Numbers’ was to expose the epistemological premises built into formalism, his main achievement in the 1940s was to recognize the extent to which this outlook both harmonized with and extended contemporary psychological thought. Turing sought to synthesize these diverse mathematical and psychological elements so as to forge a union between ‘embodied rules’ and (...) ‘learning programs’. Through their joint service in the Mechanist Thesis each would validate the other: and the frameworks from whence each derived. In this paper I will try to show how Turing's psychological thesis forces us to reassess the consequences of establishing AI on the epistemological foundation that underlies behaviourism. (shrink)
The Philosophy of Science Today Abstract and Table of Contents: 0. The Philosophy of Science has a Remarkably Low Standard 1. Public Relations for Science is Counterproductive 2. Science is a Cultural Phenomenon 3. Science Needs no Promoters..
This paper presents the Functional/Emotional approach to language development, which explains the process leading up to the core capacities necessary for language (e.g., pattern-recognition, joint attention); shows how this process leads to the formation of internal symbols; and how it shapes and is shaped by the child’s development of language. The heart of this approach is that, through a series of affective transformations, a child develops these core capacities and the capacity to form meaningful symbols. Far from being a sudden (...) jump, the transition from pre-symbolic communication to language is enabled by the advances taking place in the child’s affective gesturing. (shrink)
Our starting point for the origins of language goes beyond prosody or infant-directed speech to highlight the affective, multimodal, and co-constructed nature of meaning-making that was likely present before the split between African great apes and hominins. Analysis of vocal and gestural caregiving practices in hominins, and of meaning-making via gestural interaction in African great apes, supports our thesis.
Jerome Bruner is one of the grand figures of psychology. From his role as a founder of the cognitive revolution in the 1950s to his recent advocacy of cultural psychology, Bruner's influence has been dramatic and far-reaching. Such is the breadth of his vision that Bruner's work has inspired thinkers in many of the major areas of psychology and has had a powerful impact on adjacent disciplines. His writings on language acquisition, culture and education are of profound and enduring importance. (...) Focusing on the dominant themes of language, culture and self, this volume provides a comprehensive exploration of Bruner's fertile ideas and a considered appraisal of his legacy. With a distinguished list of contributors including Jerome Bruner himself, the result is an outstanding volume of interest to students and scholars in psychology, philosophy, cognitive science, anthropology, linguistics, and education. Among the contributors are Judy Dunn, Howard Gardner, Clifford Geertz, Rom Harré, David Olson, Edward Reed, Talbot Taylor, Michael Tomasello, and John Shotter. The volume is framed by an editorial introduction that considers the distinctively philosophical dimensions of Bruner's thought, and a final chapter by Bruner himself in which he re-examines prominent themes in his work in light of issues raised by the contributors. The volume will be invaluable to students and researchers in the fields of psychology, cognitive science, education, and the philosophy of mind. (shrink)
There is a striking parallel between w v o quine's 'indeterminacy of translation' thesis and k o apel's 'indeterminacy of textual interpretation thesis. both arguments are based on what is essentially the same 'sceptical dilemma'. the key to resolving these 'hermeneutic problems' is to recognize that such a 'sceptical problem' is unintelligible. this is precisely the point of wittgenstein's discussions of rule-following. many have misunderstood this, however, for they have misconstrued what was intended to be read as a "reductio ad (...) absurdum" establishing the "unintelligibility" of the dilemma, as a sceptical attack on the possibility of our ever solving the problem. (shrink)
Ray Monk and Anthony Palmer, (eds) Bertrand Russell and the Origins of Analytical Philosophy, Thoemmes Press, Bristol, 1996; pp. xvi + 383; Hans-Johann Glock, (ed.) The Rise of Analytic Philosophy, Blackwell, 1997; pp. xiv + 95; Matthias Schirn, (ed.) Frege: Importance and Legacy, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, 1996; pp. x + 466; Stuart G. Shanker, (ed.) Philosophy of Science, Logic and Mathematics in the Twentieth Century, Routledge History of Philosophy Volume IX, Routledge, 1996; pp. xxxviii + 461; John Blackmore, (...) (ed.) Ludwig Boltzmann: His Later Life and Philosophy, 1900-1906, Kluwer, Dordrecht, 1995; pp. xvi + 266. (shrink)
Shanker & King's (S&K's) dynamic systems approach converges with developments in social anthropological studies of communication which were long ago anticipated in the writings of Volosinov and Schutz. Following a review of these writings, this commentary suggests that a dynamic systems approach should distinguish communion from communication. It concludes with a remark on the evolutionary implications of the approach.
Although we applaud the interactivist approach to language and communication taken in the target article, we notice that Shanker & King (S&K) give little attention to the theoretical frameworks developed by dynamical system theorists. We point out how the dynamical idea of causality, viewed as multidirectional across multiple scales of organization, could further strengthen the position taken in the target article.
Parallels to Shanker & King's (S&K's) proposal for a model of language teaching that values dyadic interaction have long existed in language development, for the neotenous human infant requires care, which is inherently interactive. Interaction with talking caregivers facilitates language learning. The “new” paradigm thus has a decidedly familiar look. It would be surprising if some other paradigm worked better in animals that have no evolutionary linguistic history.
Shanker & King (S&K) argue that information-theoretic approaches to communication are too rigid to capture the ebb and flow of communicative interactions. They advocate instead a dynamic systems approach based on the metaphor of dance. We focus on two problems arising from the dance metaphor: first, that its inherently cooperative tone contradicts basic tenets of behavioral biology; and second, that it risks obscuring rather than clarifying the details of communicative interactions.
We support Shanker & King's (S&K's) proposal for a dynamic systems approach in ape language research, but question their vision of what it means to have language. Language plays an essential role in the making of the human mind. It underlies any kind of human interaction and codetermines perception and action. Moreover, what gives human thought the very characteristic architecture of textuality criterially requires a third party.
The “new” paradigm proposed by Shanker & King (S&K) is neither new nor a significant advance in our understanding of communication. Although we agree that social interaction is important, ignoring the roles of mental processes and the significance of information exchange is theoretically dangerous. Moreover, the “communicative dance” is sequential. If one partner does not lead, how is the other to follow?.
Shanker & King (S&K) rightly stress that recent ape language research has important implications for language development and origins. But the evidence does not warrant their conclusion that we can dispense with representations. Indeed, their own discussion of the nature of communication highlights the central role that representations must play in our models of communicative competence, in and out of language.
There are good arguments for examining great ape communicative achievements for what they contribute to our understanding of great ape cognition and its evolution (Russon & Begun, in press a). Our concern is whether Shanker & King's (S&K's) thesis advances communication studies from a broader cognitive and evolutionary perspective.
Shanker & King (S&K) trumpet the adoption of a “new paradigm” in communication studies, exemplified by ape language research. Though cautiously sympathetic, I maintain that their argument relies on a false dichotomy between “information” and “dynamical systems” theory, and that the resulting confusion prevents them from recognizing the main chance their line of thinking suggests.
Shanker & King (S&K) provide a criticism of information-theoretic approaches to language, but the real obstacle to their dynamicist approach is the argument that representations are an indispensable part of any cognitive theory. Since the dynamicist approach has a prima facie anti-representationalist bent, the authors must show why dynamicist views can provide adequate explanations of intelligent behavior.
Shanker & King argue for a shift in the focus of ape language research from an emphasis on information processing to a dynamic systems approach. We differ from these authors in our understanding of how this “new paradigm” emerged and in our perceptions of its limitations. We see information processing and dynamic systems as complementary approaches in the study of communication.
Whatever else language may be, it is complex and multifaceted. Shanker & King (S&K) have tried to contrast a dynamic interactive view of language with an information processing view. I take issue with two main claims: first, that the dynamic interactive view of language is a “new paradigm” in either animal research or human language studies; and second, that the dynamic systems language-as-dance view of language is in any way incompatible with an information-processing view of language. That some information (...) is defined in coregulated social interaction guarantees the dancing. That all information is composed of relevant differences guarantees the information processing. (shrink)
Reasoning about concurrent programs involves representing the information that concurrent processes manipulate disjoint portions of memory. In sophisticated applications, the division of memory between processes is not static. Through operations, processes can exchange the implied ownership of memory cells. In addition, processes can also share ownership of cells in a controlled fashion as long as they perform operations that do not interfere, e.g., they can concurrently read shared cells. Thus the traditional paradigm of distributed computing based on locations is replaced (...) by a paradigm of concurrent computing which is more tightly based on program structure. Concurrent Separation Logic with Permissions, developed by O’Hearn, Bornat et al., is able to represent sophisticated transfer of ownership and permissions between processes. We demonstrate how these ideas can be used to reason about fine-grained concurrent programs which do not employ explicit synchronization operations to control interference but cooperatively manipulate memory cells so that interference is avoided. Reasoning about such programs is challenging and appropriate logical tools are necessary to carry out the reasoning in a reliable fashion. We argue that Concurrent Separation Logic with Permissions provides such tools. We illustrate the logical techniques by presenting the proof of a concurrent garbage collector originally studied by Dijkstra et al., and extended by Lamport to handle multiple user processes. (shrink)
Comparative and developmental psychology are engaged in a search for the evolutionary and developmental origins of the perceptions of “intentions” and “desires,” and of epistemic states such as “ignorance” and “false belief.” Shanker & King (S&K) remind us that these are merely words to describe public events: All organisms that can discriminate states of “knowledge” in others have learned to do this through observation of publicly available information.
Several lines of evidence have underscored the remarkable neuroplasticity of the primate sensorimotor cortex, characterizing these cortical areas as dynamic constructs that are modelled in a use-dependent manner by behaviourally significant experiences. Their plasticity likely provides a neural substrate that may contribute to the dynamic systems paradigm argued by Shanker & King (S&K) as crucial for development of communication skills.