New Evidence for the Strange Geometry of Thought – Facts So Romantic

The brain may represent concepts in the same way that it represents space and your location, by using the same neural circuitry for the brain’s “inner GPS.”Sharon Mollerus / M.C. Escher / Flickr

In 2014, the Swedish philosopher and cognitive scientist Peter Gärdenfors went to Krakow, Poland, for a conference on the mind. He was to lecture at Jagiellonian University, courtesy of the Copernicus Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, on his theory of conceptual, or “cognitive,” spaces. Gärdenfors had been working on his idea of cognitive spaces, which explain how our brains represent concepts and objects, for decades. In his book Conceptual Spaces, from 2000, he wrote, “It has long been a common prejudice in cognitive science that the brain is either a Turing machine working with symbols or a connectionist system using neural networks.” In Krakow, Gärdenfors pushed against that prejudice. In his talk, “The Geometry of Thinking,” he suggested that humans are able to do things that today’s powerful computers can’t do—like learn language quickly and generalize from particulars with ease (to see, in other words, without much training, that lions and tigers are four-legged felines)—because we, unlike our computers, represent information in geometrical space.

In a 2018 Science
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