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Conferences 2007 - D. Hofstadter

Analogy at the heart of thought

Date : 28 June 2007, 10h30 - 12h00 (Room D002)
Speaker: Douglas Hofstadter, Professor of Cognitive Sciences and Director of the "Center for Research on Concepts and Cognition" at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA

Summary: If human thought is Europe, is the analogy Andora? Switzerland? Or maybe France? I propose that the analogy is the infrastructure, with all its highways, express lanes, state roads, town roads, avenues, city streets, country lanes, alleyways, but also its detours, road blocks, intersections, shortcuts, confusing tangles, and backward streets... In all, the analogy is omnipresent and occupies the very heart of human thought.

Two main themes support this statement: the analogy implies the use of new concepts as well as the constant activity of categorisation. I will first present a series of situations from daily life in order to highlight the omnipresence of the analogy in human thought and to emphasize, informally, the plausability of these claims.

Next, I will turn to computational models of human thought and, most importantly, the role of analogy. I will describe two models of the perception of abstract situations and the construction of analogies between these situations. These two models, Copycat and Metacat, were created in my research group (Fluid Analogies Research Group, Indiana University) in recent years. They illustrate clearly and concretely the importance expressed here of the universal aspects of the analogy. The mechanisms of these programs were inspired by the mechanisms of human thought, such as parallelism, indetermanism, and fluidity.

Professor Hofstadter was invited by the psychology department and the Paragraph lab with the support of International Relations at the Paris 8 University.

Click here to view the presentation. (in french)

(If you are having trouble viewing, see technical advice)

See also:
A brief summary of the conference at Epistémocritique website

Creation date : 14/06/2007 @ 17:09
Last update : 08/10/2007 @ 13:21
Category : Conferences 2007
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