evolutionary and computational theories of mind

James Teo james at teoth.fsnet.co.uk
Wed Jan 16 07:51:44 EST 2002

On 15 Jan 2002 15:05:37 -0800, mats_trash at hotmail.com (mat) wrote:
>what are people's views on the darwinian and computational approaches
>to explaining the mind?  Evolutionary psychology is very popular these
>days, with the way our minds work explained in terms of how they
>provided survival advantage over the eons. Computational theories
>suggest that there is a syntax or language of thought using which our
>minds can extract meaning an construct ideas about the world.  Usually
>these two approaches are viewed as approximately the same.  Evolution
>has honed the computational 'modules' of our mind.  I just wonder what
>other people's views are on this.

Well, my 2 pence worth.
I wouldn't call them "approximately the same" since the methodology
and level of investigation is very different. 
- Evolutionary psychology tends to ask "Why do human beings think or
act like that?"
- Computational theories tends to ask "What are the modules which make
up the mind and how do they do what they do?"
They seem to very different in that context. Not contradicting but not
really overlapping either since the questions being asked are
qualitatively different. I think a lot of evolutionary psychology is
hand-waving and often of dubious merit though.

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