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The Curious Case of Connectionism

Istvan S. N. Berkeley
Published Online: 2019-08-12 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opphil-2019-0018


Connectionist research first emerged in the 1940s. The first phase of connectionism attracted a certain amount of media attention, but scant philosophical interest. The phase came to an abrupt halt, due to the efforts of Minsky and Papert (1969), when they argued for the intrinsic limitations of the approach. In the mid-1980s connectionism saw a resurgence. This marked the beginning of the second phase of connectionist research. This phase did attract considerable philosophical attention. It was of philosophical interest, as it offered a way of counteracting the conceptual ties to the philosophical traditions of atomism, rationalism, logic, nativism, rule realism and a concern with the role symbols play in human cognitive functioning, which was prevalent as a consequence of artificial intelligence research. The surge in philosophical interest waned, possibly in part due to the efforts of some traditionalists and the so-called black box problem. Most recently, what may be thought of as a third phase of connectionist research, based on so-called deep learning methods, is beginning to show some signs of again exciting philosophical interest.

Keywords: Connectionism; Neural Networks; History; Philosophy


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About the article

Received: 2019-04-29

Accepted: 2019-06-28

Published Online: 2019-08-12

Published in Print: 2019-01-01

Citation Information: Open Philosophy, Volume 2, Issue 1, Pages 190–205, ISSN (Online) 2543-8875, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opphil-2019-0018.

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© 2019 Istvan S. N. Berkeley, published by De Gruyter Open. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Public License. BY 4.0

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