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Computer And The Mind

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

London Review of Books
In [this book] Philip Johnson-Laird, one of our leading cognitive psychologists, escorts the educated layman through the fantastic landscape of 'cognitive science'--the modern science of the mind, and of possible minds...It is an admirably well-balanced introduction to contemporary thinking about people's mental and physical capacities...[An] admirably written and stimulating book.
Science Books and Films

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

Nature

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

Times Higher Education Supplement

[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

Science Books and Films - Robert Bodine
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.
Nature - L. Henry Shaffer
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.
Times Higher Education Supplement - Stuart Sutherland
[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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674156166
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/1998
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 446
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.99 (d)

Table of Contents

Prologue

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

12. Deduction

13. Induction, concepts and probability

14. Creation

Part V: Communication

15. The nature of communication

16. Speech and hearing

17. Grammar

18. Meaning

Part VI: The Conscious and the Unconscious Mind

19. Self-reflection, free will and intentions

20. Needs and emotions

Envoi

Acknowledgements

References

Name Index

Subject Index

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