Computation is just interpretable symbol manipulation; cognition isn't

Minds and Machines 4 (4):379-90 (1994)

Authors
Stevan Harnad
Université du Québec à Montréal
Abstract
  Computation is interpretable symbol manipulation. Symbols are objects that are manipulated on the basis of rules operating only on theirshapes, which are arbitrary in relation to what they can be interpreted as meaning. Even if one accepts the Church/Turing Thesis that computation is unique, universal and very near omnipotent, not everything is a computer, because not everything can be given a systematic interpretation; and certainly everything can''t be givenevery systematic interpretation. But even after computers and computation have been successfully distinguished from other kinds of things, mental states will not just be the implementations of the right symbol systems, because of the symbol grounding problem: The interpretation of a symbol system is not intrinsic to the system; it is projected onto it by the interpreter. This is not true of our thoughts. We must accordingly be more than just computers. My guess is that the meanings of our symbols are grounded in the substrate of our robotic capacity to interact with that real world of objects, events and states of affairs that our symbols are systematically interpretable as being about
Keywords Cognition  Computation  Quantum Theory  Science  Test  Turing, A
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DOI 10.1007/BF00974165
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References found in this work BETA

The View From Nowhere.Thomas Nagel - 1986 - Oxford University Press.
The Language of Thought.Jerry A. Fodor - 1975 - Harvard University Press.
What is It Like to Be a Bat?Thomas Nagel - 1974 - Philosophical Review 83 (October):435-50.
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Citations of this work BETA

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On the Status of Computationalism as a Law of Nature.Colin Hales - 2011 - International Journal of Machine Consciousness 3 (01):55-89.

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