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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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Selfless Minds

Selfless Minds

Chapter:
(p.105) 6 Selfless Minds
Source:
The Embodied Mind
Author(s):

Francisco J. Varela

Evan Thompson

Eleanor Rosch

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262529365.003.0006

This chapter looks at Marvin Minsky's and Seymour Papert's recent proposal to study the mind as a society, which takes the patchwork architecture of cognition as a central element. Minsky and Papert present a view in which minds consist of many “agents” whose abilities are quite circumscribed: each agent taken individually operates only in a microworld of small-scale or “toy” problems. This model of the mind as a society of numerous agents is intended to encompass a multiplicity of approaches to the study of cognition, ranging from distributed, self-organizing networks to the classical, cognitivist conception of localized, serial symbolic processing. The society of mind purports to be, then, something of a middle way in present cognitive science. This middle way challenges a homogenous model of the mind, whether in the form of distributed networks at one extreme or symbolic processers at the other extreme.

Keywords:   Marvin Minsky, Seymour Papert, mind, cognitive architecture, cognition, society of mind, cognitive science

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