Classic Computer Magazine Archive CREATIVE COMPUTING VOL. 9, NO. 3 / MARCH 1983 / PAGE 300

Minds and mechanisms. (book reviews) Steve Gray.

Minds and Mechanisms: Philosophical Psychology and Computational Models

This collection of essays is by a professor of philosophy and psychology at the University of Sussex (England) who also wrote Artificial Intelligence and Natural Man. In this latest book, she "presents an interdisciplinary study of our mental representations of the world and their transformations that mediate our thinking, action and experience,' according to the dust jacket.

Boden "addresses four closely related questions: What is the nature of the mind, and of specific mental phenomena, such as intention, reasoning, choice, or repression? What sorts of concepts are required for an adequate theoretical psychology? How is it possible for the mind to be embodied? And what is the relation between psychology, on one hand, and physiology or biology on the other? Boden adopts a computational approach to these questions, claiming that the concepts and insights of computer science and artificial intelligence are useful in describing and explaining psychological processes.'

The book "will interest both philosophers and cognitive scientists,' the dust jacket continues, after noting that Boden "shows that the computational metaphor stresses features of the human mind--such as purpose and subjectivity--which many psychological theories have ignored or even denied.'

The 13 essays are divided into four parts: Explanation and Computation (The Computational Metaphor in Psychology, The Case for a Cognitive Biology, etc.), What We Have in Mind (The Structure of Intentions, Real-World Reasoning, Implications of Language Studies for Human Nature), Psychologists Ancient and Modern, and Values and Psychological Theory (Human Values in a Mechanistic Universe, Optimism).

For most readers of Creative, this book will seem more or less like a collection of intellectual trivia. For the remaining few who enjoy (and understand) sentences such as, "This morphological-behavorial continuity presumably involves biological clocks as organizing principles, since these are basic to the spatio-temporal organization of embryogenesis,' there are many more such phrases. There are some interesting passages, but they are few and far between in what seems to be essays written by one PhD for other PhDs.

Review Grade: D