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The Embodied MindCognitive Science and Human Experience$
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Francisco J. Varela, Evan Thompson, and Eleanor Rosch

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780262529365

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262529365.001.0001

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Symbols: The Cognitivist Hypothesis

Symbols: The Cognitivist Hypothesis

(p.37) 3 Symbols: The Cognitivist Hypothesis
The Embodied Mind

Francisco J. Varela

Evan Thompson

Eleanor Rosch

The MIT Press

This chapter explores cognitivism and the cognitivist hypothesis. The central intuition behind cognitivism is that intelligence—human intelligence included—so resembles computation in its essential characteristics that cognition can actually be defined as computations of symbolic representations. The cognitivist argument is that intelligent behavior presupposes the ability to represent the world as being certain ways. Another cognitivist claim is that the only way one can account for intelligence and intentionality is to hypothesize that cognition consists of acting on the basis of representations that are physically realized in the form of a symbolic code in the brain or a machine. Ultimately, the cognitivist hypothesis entails a very strong claim about the relations between syntax and semantics.

Keywords:   cognitivism, cognitivist hypothesis, intelligence, computation, symbolic representations, symbolic code, syntax, semantics, cognition

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