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A computational theory of world: Mind in Leibnizian metaphysics

Hastie, Natalie (2014) A computational theory of world: Mind in Leibnizian metaphysics. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Computational theory of mind (CTM) is a dominant model found in much of the cognitive sciences and neuroscience, with the working assumption that most or all of mental phenomena can be reduced to computation. While this has demonstrated to be an effective working model within such disciplines, there are fundamental philosophical issues with this standard theory. By using a hybrid approach of Leibnizian Metaphysics as the ground on which to develop the emerging field of a computational Metaphysics, we can begin to reconcile this disciplinary gap and grant those fields the epistemic purchase that their assumptions are currently lacking. I will present first the primary concepts of CTM, and the problems which arise from this standard model in terms of understanding the nature of consciousness itself. By then backtracking into Leibniz’s Monadology, I will explore the rational foundation of his peculiar computational metaphysics that form his conception of the nature of ‘substance’. This will serve as a useful platform to explore the emerging fields of Computational Metaphysics, in which a number of recent theorists are proposing a paradigm shift away from the “myth of matter” to an informational model which seeks to account for physical structures of matter and motion in terms of computation. By combining these theories with Leibnizian metaphysics, in which perception and consciousness are not just explained but are intrinsic to his system, I propose a new, hybrid approach to computational theory of mind which is neither reductive to physical brain states and which accounts for the lived experience of consciousness.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Arts
Supervisor(s): McDonald, Paul
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