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In a field choked with seemingly impenetrable jargon, Philip N. Johnson-Laird has done the impossible: written a book about how the mind works that requires no advance knowledge of artificial intelligence, neurophysiology, or psychology. The mind, he says, depends on the brain in the same way as the execution of a program of symbolic instructions depends on a computer, and can thus be understood by anyone willing to start with basic principles of computation and follow his ...
In a field choked with seemingly impenetrable jargon, Philip N. Johnson-Laird has done the impossible: written a book about how the mind works that requires no advance knowledge of artificial intelligence, neurophysiology, or psychology. The mind, he says, depends on the brain in the same way as the execution of a program of symbolic instructions depends on a computer, and can thus be understood by anyone willing to start with basic principles of computation and follow his step-by-step explanations.
The author begins with a brief account of the history of psychology and the birth of cognitive science after World War II. He then describes clearly and simply the nature of symbols and the theory of computation, and follows with sections devoted to current computational models of how the mind carries out all its major tasks, including visual perception, learning, memory, the planning and control of actions, deductive and inductive reasoning, and the formation of new concepts and new ideas. Other sections discuss human communication, meaning, the progress that has been made in enabling computers to understand natural language, and finally the difficult problems of the conscious and unconscious mind, free will, needs and emotions, and self-awareness. In an envoi, the author responds to the critics of cognitive science and defends the computational view of the mind as an alternative to traditional dualism: cognitive science integrates mind and matter within the same explanatory framework.
This first single-authored introduction to cognitive science will command the attention of students of cognitive science at all levels including psychologists, linguists, computer scientists, philosophers, and neuroscientists--as well as all readers curious about recent knowledge on how the mind works.
The idea that the computer can be in some way induced to replicate the processes of the human brain has long attracted the attention of psychologists and computer scientists. This remarkably readable description of these inquiries will interest both the general reader and the specialist...Each section begins with careful, reflective summaries of often opposing philosophical views on how and why the human animal does whatever it does and what the author's position is. Each chapter ends with brief recommendations for further reading on various concepts that were introduced...This is a very fine book.
— Robert Bodine
The computer metaphor of mind has been in currency for some time. For anyone who wants to understand it better, Johnson-Laird's book is a very good starting point...He writes on cognition with enviable clarity and wit, and with a breadth of vision that allows him to use music, art and literature in a natural way to make his points.
— L. Henry Shaffer
[The book] is a tour de force...It provides a wider coverage than any comparable book, ranging from speech understanding to vision and from motor skills (the only slightly opaque chapter) to simulated neural networks in which the information and procedures are distributed throughout the whole system...The writing is always lively, with a sprinkling of witticisms: of the views of the mind held in the days of behaviorism...It is unlikely that such a readable, comprehensive and accurate account of cognitive science will appear for many years. It should serve equally well as an introductory text and as a book for the lay-reader who wants to know about this fast-developing subject. Although as Johnson-Laird writes, 'the book is intellectually demanding,' readers will find it well worth the effort.
— Stuart Sutherland
Part I: Computation and the Mind
1. How should the mind be studied?
2. Symbols and mental processes
3. Computability and mental processes
Part II: Vision
4. The visual image
5. Seeing the world in depth
6. Scenes, shapes and images
Part III: Learning, Memory and Action
7. Learning and learnability
8. The components of memory
9. Plans and productions
10. Parallel distributed processing
11. Action and the control of movement
Part IV: Cogitation
13. Induction, concepts and probability
Part V: Communication
15. The nature of communication
16. Speech and hearing
Part VI: The Conscious and the Unconscious Mind
19. Self-reflection, free will and intentions
20. Needs and emotions