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On the nature of minds, or: truth and consequences

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Are minds really dynamical or are they really symbolic? Because minds are bundles of computations, and because computation is always a matter of interpretation of one system by another, minds are necessarily symbolic. Because minds, along with everything else in the universe, are physical, and insofar as the laws of physics are dynamical, minds are necessarily dynamical systems. Thus, the short answer to the opening question is 'yes'. It makes sense to ask further whether some of the computations that constitute a human mind are constrained by functional, algorithmic, or implementational factors to be essentially of the discrete symbolic variety (even if they supervene on an apparently continuous dynamical substrate). I suggest that here too the answer is 'yes' and discuss the need for such discrete, symbolic cognitive computations in communication-related tasks.
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Keywords: communication; computation; dynamical systems; symbolic dynamics

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA

Publication date: September 1, 2008

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