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Newtonian Space: The 'Blind Spot' In Newell and Simon's Information Processing Paradigm

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Neglected assumptions regarding space glue together the whole information processing framework of Newell and Simon. This article argues that space in Newell and Simon is a Newtonian construct. This Newtonian construct is operationalised as flat, non-interactive, static Euclidean space in contrast to the space-time of Einstein's general relativity in physical causal events which is operationalised as curved, interactive, dynamic, non-Euclidean space. Despite dynamic interactive sounding language in Newell and Simon's computer models of mind, they are argued to rely on static non-interactive Newtonian spatial assumptions. It is unsurprising that Newell and Simon's work would contain pre-Einsteinian spatial assumptions given the large-scale reliance in cognitive science on a schema concept purportedly deriving from Kant. Highlighting the contrasts between Newtonian and Einsteinian space does not deny the continuities between both paradigms in other respects, nor is it an argument for the importation of physics into psychology. An interpretative method of reasoning is developed regarding Newtonian space that distances the argument from simple analogy. The Newtonian framework embedded in Newell and Simon means that cognitive science cannot in principle provide a fundamental explanation of mind

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-01-01

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