The Unexplained Intellect : Complexity, Time, and the Metaphysics of Embodied Thought book cover
1st Edition

The Unexplained Intellect
Complexity, Time, and the Metaphysics of Embodied Thought

ISBN 9780367210670
Published January 17, 2019 by Routledge
196 Pages

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Book Description

The relationship between intelligent systems and their environment is at the forefront of research in cognitive science. The Unexplained Intellect: Complexity, Time, and the Metaphysics of Embodied Thought shows how computational complexity theory and analytic metaphysics can together illuminate long-standing questions about the importance of that relationship. It argues that the most basic facts about a mind cannot just be facts about mental states, but must include facts about the dynamic, interactive mental occurrences that take place when a creature encounters its environment.

In a discussion that is organised into four clear parts, Christopher Mole begins by examining the mathematics of computational complexity, arguing that the results from complexity theory create a puzzle about how human intelligence could possibly be explained. Mole then uses the tools of analytic metaphysics to draw a distinction between mental states and dynamic mental entities, and shows that, in order to answer the complexity-theoretic puzzle, dynamic entities must be understood to be among the most basic of mental phenomena. The picture of the mind that emerges has important implications for our understanding of intelligence, of action, and of the mind’s relationship to the passage of time.

The Unexplained Intellect is the first book to bring insights from the mathematics of computational complexity to bear in an enquiry into the metaphysics of the mind. It will be essential reading for scholars and researchers in the philosophy of mind and psychology, for cognitive scientists, and for those interested in the philosophical importance of complexity.

Table of Contents

Part 1: The Complexity of Intelligence  1. The Neglect of Noology  2. The Philosophical Relevance of Theoretical Computer Science  3. The Explanatory Consequences of Imperfection  4. Sources of Intractability  Part 2: Temporal Orientation  5. The Psychological Arrow of Time  6. Temporally Chiral Attitudes  7. Episodic and Semantic Memory  Part 3: A Point of Local Metaphysics  8. Metaphysical Questions  9. The Modal Signature of Ontological Dependence  10. Leveraging the Mind  11. An Argument for Dynamic Foundations  Part 4: The Perdurance of Intelligent Thought  12. Epistemic Conduct  13. Encountering Events  14. Action as an Epistemic Encounter  15. Inference as an Epistemic Encounter  16. Encountering Unrepresented Facts  17. Encounters First  18. The Achievement of Intelligence.  Index

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Christopher Mole is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of British Columbia, Canada. In addition, he teaches in the Programme in Cognitive Systems, also at the University of British Columbia. He is the author of Attention is Cognitive Unison: An Essay in Philosophical Psychology (2011).


'Mole brings complexity theory, the philosophy of mind, and the metaphysics of dynamic processes together into a compelling analysis of human intelligence. The book is a pleasure to read, with its web of complex arguments made transparent by the clarity of the writing. It is essential reading for anyone tempted to think traditional cognitive science can explain intelligence.' - Rowland Stout, University College Dublin, Ireland

'Mole’s discussion of the computational complexity that the exercise of intelligence must confront, and his search for a solution in the intelligent agent’s engagement with the world and other agents, offers a striking new approach to understanding what makes human beings so smart.' - Lawrence Shapiro, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA