FYSM 1400 - David Pierre Leibovitz - March 19, 2009

Metaphysics
1. Difference between Cognitive Psychology & Cognitive Science
Cognitive Psychology:
a) investigates internal mental structures and processes using the scientific method.
b) less use of computers to simulate mental processes.
Some argue that this makes psychological descriptions informal and simply a "hand waving" exercise
Cognitive Science:
c)
as a) above
d)
much more use of computers to formally specify and simulate theory
e)
Interdisciplinary. Cognitive Science includes (and is not limited to)
- Psychology
- Sociology
- Computer Science (the Artificial Intelligence (AI) bit)
- Linguistics - the first to suppose internal mental structures
- Neuroscience
- Anthropology
- Education
- Philosophy
Basically, anything that can inform on what is going on in the mind.

2. Unlike other sciences, Cognitive Science has a major philosophical
component. Why?
Cognitive science is a young science, and many would argue it is not yet mature.
On the negative side, it can be extremely frustrating. There is no agreed upon, high level, unified theory of mind or
approach to getting there. Very little agreement on terminology and methods of analysis beyond using the scientific
method, i.e., empirical means. Where agreement is poor, philosophy tries to fill in the gaps on rational (non
empirical) grounds.
On the positive side, it is the wild west. Plenty to explore. Much theorizing and experimentation to do. The last
frontier! A place to make your mark. Just be wary of snake oil salesmen. Quackery abounds.

3. Metaphysics & Ontology - What are these?
Metaphysics is the foundation within philosophy (and science). It looks at the smallest aspects of the physical and
mental world and asks (unanswerable) questions such as what is real? It is less interested in the description of the
entire world, but in how to decompose the world. The terms of decomposition are the ontology.
For example, nouns, verbs, subject, object, etc. form the ontology for describing language. Metaphysics would come
up with these basic terms, how to use and apply them, what they mean. It would be up to linguists to make use of
these terms to describe how language are learned and used around the world.
I gave the example of different programming styles. The Object Oriented programming style is one way to
decompose a problem. We decomposed the classroom. The imperative programming styles is what we are most used

to – a sequence of computer instructions to do this, then do that. The declarative style is unusual and simply
describes the world and how one changes it. Give the program a goal, and it will figure out how to achieve it (rather
than being told exactly how to do so via the imperative style). The point is, these styles are different ways to
decompose a computational problem.
I am frustrated with Cognitive Science and desire to change how one views and decomposes the mental world. Thus
I must play the metaphysical and ontological game.

4. Recursion
I gave the example, likely too quickly, of NOR & NAND gates, and how they simply react to their inputs to provide
an output. However, by feeding back some of the outputs into their inputs, one can create a Turing Machine – a
device that can compute anything. This feeding back is called recursion, and it is recursion that gives things their
power to compute, or do, almost anything.

5. Paradoxes of Change
We had two volunteers exemplify some paradoxes of change.
In one case, one cannot start to move.
In another case, a faster person cannot overtake a slower one.
Related to metaphysics, philosophy has adopted a “substance” approach to studying and decomposing the world
based on things that do not change, one reason was that change was full of paradoxes.

6. My interests
My interest, is in harnessing change, in a recursive manner, for cognitive purposes. I offer a different way to
decompose the mental realm.

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