I’ve been going back and looking again at the problems and questions which nudged me into the computational sphere as a way of building our human capacities for inquiry, learning, and reasoning.
One critical issue, you might even say bifurcation point, came up again on the Peirce List almost a decade ago in discussing the so-called “Symbol Grounding Problem”, a problem I thought had long been laid to rest, at least, among readers of Peirce, who ought to have no trouble grasping how the problem dissolves as soon as placed in the medium of Peirce’s sign relations.
Here is how the ghost of a problem returned to haunt us on that occasion …
All of which led me to recall the problems I worked on all through the ’80s …
I spent one of my parallel lives in the 1980s earning a Master’s degree in psychology, concentrating on the quantitative-statistical branch with courses in systems theory, simulation, and mathematical models, plus a healthy diet of courses and seminars in cognitive science and counseling psychology. Instead of the usual thesis I submitted a computer program which integrated a module for multi-level sequential learning with a module for propositional constraint satisfaction, the latter based on an extension of Peirce’s logical graphs.
All the hottest topics of artificial intelligence and cognitive science from those days enjoy no end of periodic revivals, and though it brings me a twinge of nostalgia to see those old chestnuts being fired up again, those problems now seem to me as problems existing only for a peculiar tradition of thought, a tradition ever occupied with chasing will o’ th’ wisps Peirce dispersed long before the chase began.
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