Thursday, June 01, 2006

A New History of Cognitive Science

Margaret Boden, Mind as Machine: A History of Cognitive Science, Oxford: Oxford University Press, due July 15, 2006.

In my opinion, Boden is one of the best philosophers of AI and cognitive science. (I say it because she is probably less recognized and cited, at least in the U.S., than she deserves.)

For some time, Boden has been working on a monumental (two volumes, 1,600 pages!) history of cognitive science, which, I'm happy to notice, is about to come out.

Boden undersands the history of cognitive science better than most. For example, she is one of the few people who has written that the classical computational theory of mind and connectionist versions of the computational theory have a joint origin in Warren McCulloch and Pitts's classic 1943 paper, and are conceptually closer than many participants in the classicism-connectionism debate seem to realize. (See Boden, M. (1991). "Horses of a Different Color?" In Philosophy and Connectionist Theory, ed. by W. Ramsey, S. P. Stich and D. E. Rumelhart. Hillsdale, LEA: 3-19. For more details on McCulloch and Pitts's theory and its historical and conceptual importance, see my recent paper in Synthese on the subject.)

The price is steep ($225), so some of you won't be able to reserve their personal copy on Amazon. But you should at least consider asking your university library to buy it. I, for one, can't wait to see it.

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