Parts Is Parts, but Isn't There More to the Whole?

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Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1993, Vol 38(12), 1271–1274. Reviews the book, Human and Machine Thinking by Philip N. Johnson-Laird (see record 1992-98666-000). The book addresses a fundamental question “What is thinking?” The book's author is a world-class scholar in the field of thinking and so is eminently qualified to provide some answers. He provided these answers in a series of lectures at the University of Alberta-the Mac- Eachran Memorial Lectures of 1992–the edited texts of which are published as this book. The book is organized into five basic parts a Prologue, a chapter (1) on deduction, a chapter (2) on induction, a chapter (3) on creation, and an Epilogue. The reviewer identified five features that he particularly liked. First, Johnson-Laird takes a formalism, the mental model (which is as much his own invention as anyone else's, see Johnson-Laird, 1983) and shows how it can be applied across three different domains of thinking-deduction, induction, and creation. Second, the book is readable to psychologists who are nonspecialists, although it will be tough going for laypeople. Third, the author, although clearly enamored of machines, is not enthralled by them. He recognizes that computer programs embody psychological theories–they are not the theories themselves. Fourth, Johnson-Laird has some very good computational models. Finally, Johnson-Laird is thoughtful rather than (if I may say so) mechanical He thinks about the presuppositions of his work, its philosophical antecedents, and how it fits into cognitive science as a whole. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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