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Erik Myin: Computation: Natural or Cultural Kind?

Public lecture organized by the Department of Theoretical Philosophy

According to a widely endorsed view in the cognitive sciences, computation is a natural kind. Computations are carried out in and by brains, by neurons or collections of neurons. Such natural computation is independent of cultural artefacts for computation, such as mathematical or symbolic notation. Indeed, natural computation is considered to form a necessary ingredient in any explanation of the emergence of culturally mediated forms of computation, such as calculating by writing on a blackboard.

According to an alternative minority view, fully or partly endorsed by Ed Hutchins, Evan Thompson and Andrew Wells, the only kind of computation around is cultural computation. Activities such as calculating by writing on a blackboard, and derivatives of such activities, such as mental arithmetic, are the only kinds of computation that exist. Computation requires, rather than explains, the existence of conventional symbol systems.

In this talk, Erik Myin (Centre for Philosophical Psychology, University of Antwerp) will contrast these two views on computation, and defend the position that computation is a cultural, rather than a natural kind.


Wednesday, 12 September 2012, 15.15-17.00 h


Oude Boteringestraat 52, room Omega

Laatst gewijzigd:29 oktober 2013 17:48