Mind as Machine: The Influence of Mechanism on the Conceptual Foundations of the Computer Metaphor

RUDN Journal of Philosophy 26 (4):755-769 (2022)
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his article will focus on the mechanistic origins of the computer metaphor, which forms the conceptual framework for the methodology of the cognitive sciences, some areas of artificial intelligence and the philosophy of mind. The connection between the history of computing technology, epistemology and the philosophy of mind is expressed through the metaphorical dictionaries of the philosophical discourse of a particular era. The conceptual clarification of this connection and the substantiation of the mechanistic components of the computer metaphor is the main goal of this article. The statement is substantiated that the invention of mechanical computing devices, having a long history in the European engineering tradition, formed the prerequisites for the emergence of machine functionalism in the modern philosophy of mind. The idea of multiple implementation stems from the principle that a formal symbol system prescribes rules for the use of rational abstractions through the physical architecture of a computational engine. The article considers the reasons for the conceptual shift and reveals the semantic foundations for the metaphorical transfer of the properties of abstract objects from the theory of automata to the field of modern philosophy of mind. The criticism and ways of protecting the philosophical program of machine functionalism are analyzed by changing the content of the metaphor “Mind as machine”. The reasons for the stability of the information-computer approach in cognitive sciences are also disclosed and explained.

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Pavel Baryshnikov
Pyatigorsk State University


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