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Stephen Downes

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This is as very well written short article outlining Muhammad Ali Khalidi's book Cognitive Ontology: Taxonomic Practices in the Mind-Brain Sciences, which "offers a compelling non-reductionist approach to understanding the furniture of the mind: the 'real kinds' of cognitive science." The point of departure is David Marr's 'three levels' analysis of neural mechanisms:

  • Computational: What computations does the central nervous system perform and why?
  • Algorithmic: What representations and procedures are used in the neural computation?
  • Implementation: What the physiological mechanisms that bring about these representations and carry out these algorithms?

"Khalidi wants to 'add an ontological dimension to Marr's methodological and epistemic account of the computational level,'" writes Zoe Drayson. "He argues that the taxonomy of Marr's approach provides the metaphysical structure of cognition, such that 'the computational level is the proper domain of the cognitive.'" Drayson criticizes with a very light hand, calling this a "bold move" rather than rejecting it out of hand. Anyhow, this article rewards a slow and careful read, and the work of David Marr (which amounts to much more than this) is foundational and influential. The Brains Blog is posting a series of articles from Al Khalidi and commentators this week.

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