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Distinctively human thinking in a massively modular mind

Peter Carruthers

Tuesday, November 30, 2004, 01:00pm - 02:00pm

University of Maryland, Department of Philosophy

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This talk will take up one of the main challenges to massively modular models of the human mind: to explain the distinctively flexible and creative character of human cognitive processes. The goal is to sketch how one might build a mind with such properties out of modular components (where these components are �modular� in a non-standard sense to be quickly characterized). The model proposed finds an important place for natural language in realizing distinctively-human thought processes (an idea which is consistent with �dual process� models of human reasoning proposed by Stanovich and others). Language may be able to combine contents that wouldn�t otherwise get conjoined, and then cycles of linguistic activity in �inner speech� may recruit a variety of other inferential systems, and other capacities, to generate novel contents, as well as to acquire novel inference-types (such as canons of scientific method). Some of these capacities � like mental rehearsal of action � are likely to be shared with other animals, whereas others � like meta-representational capacities � may be uniquely human.

Peter Carruthers