The connectionist mind: A study of Hayekian psychology

In Stephen F. Frowen (ed.), Hayek: Economist and Social Philosopher: A Critical Retrospect. London: St. Martin's Press. pp. 9-29 (1997)
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In his book The Sensory Order, Hayek anticipates many of the central ideas behind what we now call the connectionist paradigm, and develops on this basis a theory of the workings of the human mind that extends the thinking of Hume and Mach. He shows that the idea of neural networks is can be applied not only in psychology and neurology but also in the sphere of economics. For the mind, from the perspective of The Sensory Order, is a dynamic, relational affair that is in many respects analogous to a market process. The mind, as Hayek puts it, is a 'continuous stream of impulses, the significance of each and every contribution of which is determined by the place in the pattern of channels through which they flow' , so that the flow of representative neural impulses can be compared 'to a stock of capital being nourished by inputs and giving a continuous stream of outputs'.

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Barry Smith
University at Buffalo


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