The imagist approach to inferential thought patterns
The crucial role of rhythm pattern recognition
Tmagists' hold that inferential thinking is built up from combinations of sensory and sensorimotor images in various patterns and modalities, and that the images are a more basic mental and neurophysiological operation than the logical thinking and conceptualization that are built up front them. 'Computationalists' hold just the opposite view — that images result from previous inferential processing which is more basic than the images. Suppose we define inference as the kind of thought process that we actually undergo when we do logical thinking, and not in the trivial sense in which any natural phenomenon which receives an 'input' from another then 'responds' to this 'input' (as for example when a ball responds to being hit by flying off at a certain angle). And suppose we define an 'image ' as any instance of imagining what it would be like to entertain some conscious state which we are not undergoing at the time — as for example when we imagine what it would be like to see something, to ride a roller coaster or to have a headache. I. e., 'images ' can be kinaesthetic and proprioceptive s well as sensory. Then it can be shown that inferential thinking is built up from patterns of images, including importantly the imaging of rhythm patterns corresponding to logical syntax. Furthermore, the acquisition of these inference rules can also be traced to a process of trying to imagine scenarios which might serve as counterexamples to the rules, and this kind of 'imagining ' can also be explained in terms of both sensory and proprioceptive images. The reason for this is twofold: First, even the apparently 'imageless ' concepts used to imagine such scenarios (e.g., the concept 'president') consist in each case of a feeling of preparedness to entertain a pattern of images which would be appropriate to provide a directly or indirectly ostensive definition of the concept in question, and this feeling of preparedness can be sensed proprioceptively. Secondly, a concept, even if it is not experienced as involving imagery, may nonetheless occur as an element of a larger pattern whose rhythm can be imaged. This paper defends an expanded version of the imagist approach, suggesting an important pragmatic role for the proprioceptive sensing of rhythm patterns in the acquisition and use of inference skills.
Published online: 01 January 1995
Cited by 1 other publications
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