[Humanist] 31.188 'computational'

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Thu Jul 20 07:08:10 CEST 2017


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 31, No. 188.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Joris van Zundert <joris.van.zundert at huygens.knaw.nl>     (89)
        Subject: Re:  31.187 'computational'?

  [2]   From:    John Wall <jnwall at ncsu.edu>                               (88)
        Subject: Re:  31.187 'computational'?


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Wed, 19 Jul 2017 11:39:11 +0000
        From: Joris van Zundert <joris.van.zundert at huygens.knaw.nl>
        Subject: Re:  31.187 'computational'?
        In-Reply-To: <20170719101714.F2BCE1C89 at digitalhumanities.org>


Dear Willard,

Just to check if I did not get matters all wrong. Are you saying that it is
all too easy to forget that all that we produce are meta forms: hypotheses
on how things might work? Maps, not territories. If so, I think you are
quite right that we should always remember that we scientists are obsessed
with creating naturalistic maps, not impressionistic or expressionistic
ones. But still maps.

I do not know Tooby's, Cosmides', or Baron-Cohen's work, but the paragraph
is indeed suggestive of at least the first two mistaking the computational
model for the reality of mind-body. I found the concept of 'natural
information-processing problems' similarly inspiring. How exactly did they
mean 'natural' there? With that we are awfully close to 'do numbers exist,
or are they mere models?'

All the best
--Joris

On Wed, 19 Jul 2017 at 12:17, Humanist Discussion Group <
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:

>                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 31, No. 187.
>             Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                        www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                 Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>
>
>
>         Date: Wed, 19 Jul 2017 09:28:31 +0100
>         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>         Subject: the computational model of mind
>
>
> The Oxford English Dictionary lists three main senses for 'computation'
> -- updated, please note, as of 2008:
>
> 1. The action or process of computing, reckoning, or counting;
> arithmetical or mathematical calculation; an instance of this.
>
> 2. In wider sense: estimation, reckoning; consideration. [marked as
> obsolete]
>
> 3. The use of (electronic) computers, esp. as a field of study or
> research; computer science.
>
> Some might say that the editors of the OED have paid insufficient
> attention to cognitive science, including philosophers (such as Dan
> Dennett) who move in its circles. But it seems to me that the editors
> have been wise to set down active senses which hug the mathematical and
> refer to computing machinery -- and, with some bravery, that they have
> marked as obsolete the sense which the now widely assumed computational
> model of mind would bring back into currency.
>
> One must be careful here not to shun mathematics, which is as much an
> expression of human creativity and imaginative thought as any of the
> humanities. (See, if you think otherwise, Ian Hacking's unsurprisingly
> magisterial Why is There a Philosophy of Mathematics At All?, CUP 2014.)
> What I think deserves our sharp critical attention is, rather, the
> largely silent assumption that 'computational' simply describes what
> happens in the head, or in the mind-body, if you prefer. I wish to be
> confrontational about this assumption -- without for one moment spurning
> the fascinating work going on in cognitive science. I want 'as if' to be
> inscribed in large, bold letters above that house so that everyone knows
> it's seriously playful toys that are being made there, not, at long
> last, reality being glimpsed just around the next corner (or perhaps the
> one after that, or the one after that...).
>
> And here's a test. Read John Tooby's and Leda Cosmides' Foreword to
> Simon Baron-Cohen's Mindblind: An Essay on Autism and Theory of Mind
> (1995), then do a self-assessment of your cognitive equilibrium. For the
> convenience of those here who are curious, I reproduce as an attachment
> (below) a paragraph from this Foreword.
>
> What struck me about this paragraph when I first read it, and what
> strikes me still, is how close it comes to something I might write if I
> had their command of their field. How vividly it thus brings out, at least
> for me, the differences -- what I would not write. The crucial word is
> 'computational'.
>
> Or have I got the matter badly wrong?
>
> Yours,
> WM
>
> --
> Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
> Humanities, King's College London; Adjunct Professor, Western Sydney
> University and North Carolina State University; Editor,
> Interdisciplinary Science Reviews (www.tandfonline.com/loi/yisr20)
>
> *** Attachments:
>
> http://www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist/Attachments/1500453121_2017-07-19_willard.mccarty@mccarty.org.uk_7256.2.pdf


--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Wed, 19 Jul 2017 09:57:08 -0400
        From: John Wall <jnwall at ncsu.edu>
        Subject: Re:  31.187 'computational'?
        In-Reply-To: <20170719101714.F2BCE1C89 at digitalhumanities.org>



Willard,

Here's an image I use to help find cognitive equilibrium, courtesy of
Berkeley Breathed, see attached.

JNW

*** Attachments:
    http://www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist/Attachments/1500472921_2017-07-19_humanist-owner@lists.digitalhumanities.org_13200.2.jpeg


-- 
John N. Wall
Professor of English Literature
NC State University
Raleigh, North Carolina 27695-8105





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