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Journal Articles Behavioural Processes Year : 1995

Mental symbols and genetic symbols: Analogies between theoretical perspectives in biology and cognitive science

Abstract

A striking parallel may be drawn between the historical succession of explanatory theories of life and explanatory theories of cognitive phenomena. In both domains independently, approaches to understanding the problem of adaptation spawned the concept of formal representation: in biology the representation of hereditary characters by genes, and in psychology the symbolic representation of mental contents by computational states. Molecular biology and classical cognitivism now share the same problem of the origin of language (genetic code and language of thought) and the assignment of content to manipulated symbols. Such isomorphism of the problems and their modes of resolution could provide grounds for criticism of the naive way in which biology is used to solve the difficulties encountered in psychology, as in the teleological approach to intentionality. On the other hand, acceptance of the analogy implies that any solution or major revision in one domain should be able to inspire equivalent solutions or revisions in the other.

Dates and versions

hal-04583028 , version 1 (22-05-2024)

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C. Lenay. Mental symbols and genetic symbols: Analogies between theoretical perspectives in biology and cognitive science. Behavioural Processes, 1995, 35 (1-3), pp.251--261. ⟨10.1016/0376-6357(95)00045-3⟩. ⟨hal-04583028⟩
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