Mind: A Connectionist Model

Journal of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research 21 (3-4):43-62 (2004)
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In cognitive science, there are many computational theories regarding the function of the mind; connectionism is one of them. Connectionist networks are intricate systems of simple units related to their environment. Some have thousands of units, but those with only a few units can also behave with surprising complexity and subtlety. This is because processing occurs in parallel as also interactively, in marked contrast with the serial processing to which this is accustomed. In the first section of this paper, I intend to describe a simple network that illustrates several features of connectionist processing. Secondly, I would like to examine its relation with other areas in realm of cognitive science. Thirdly, I shall make an attempt to find out whether this theory contributes to the replacement of folk psychology. Lastly, I find that connectionist thus fails to account for the real nature of the mental states because of its not too clear attempt to reduce mental states to the machine states. The mechanistic theory of mind in all its hues faces the question as to how we can account for the qualitative content of our consciousness. It cannot ultimately tell us how the subjective experience is possible and how consciousness to be real feature of universe.

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Rajakishore Nath
Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay


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