Are there any models of Human Cognition that do not require some physicallist concepts? Maybe a model of the Mind-brain system as a self-sustaining self-controlling 'behavioural-algorithm' processing and management system. Where the self-controlling processes and self-interactions can only be reduced to various fundemental 'behavioural-programs' and not further to various neuro-chemical events. One might ask how could a self-integrating system of 'behavioural-programs' interact with each other so as to keep their general functioning abilities intact and self-sustaining? Could a 'conglomeration' of behavioural-programs keep 'itself' functioning as a 'whole' and 'keep' all its relevent subprograms running smoothly so it is self sustaining and it can 'change' parts of itself witout sabotaging function? Maybe a study of the self-controlling ability of a well organised 'conglomeration' of behavioural 'programs' that all cooperate ( or any system of programs that 'work together') could explain the way the Mind-Brain is organised. What do you think?

  • There is a book (which I've not yet read myself! but I am very interesting): Being No One The Self-Model Theory of Subjectivity By Thomas Metzinger. This is from its Overview: "His epistemic goal is to determine whether conscious experience, in particular the experience of being someone that results from the emergence of a phenomenal self, can be analyzed on subpersonal levels of description." Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 12:52
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    The Human Mind-Brain could be thought of as an info. and info.-algorithm processing and management system. Where the basic elements of the system are the coalesced and 'semi'-coalesced info. algorithms that the system 'forms' from previous 'self-variations' and/or present self variations. These 'behavioural' algorithms can be combined and recombined or changed ( within functional limits) so as to make new algorithms or variations from older ones. So the Mind-Brain could be considered an info. and info. algorithm management system that can constantly 're-program' itself and is self sustaining.
    – user128932
    Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 6:57
  • Could various necessary dynamic traits of a process be considered just as 'real' as the biochemicals involved in the biochemical reactions within the process? In the sense these 'process traits' are invariant in some way and whether they occur or not as they are 'supposed to' allows the process to function 'properly'. So one could change the whole process by changing how some of these necessary process traits happen without possibly changing the underlying biochemical events.
    – 201044
    Commented Feb 27, 2016 at 1:03

1 Answer 1


This is an interesting topic. And there are some controversial theories about cognition.

There is the Computational Theory of Mind. This was proposed by Hilary Putnam in the middle 20th century.

In this theory the mind/brain is a computer, more exactly you can see the brain as the computer and and the mind as a program in execution on the brain. So thinking equals computing.

We are not really talking about modern digital computers here, we are interested in the theoretical sense, a computer handles symbols following an step by step procedure (an algorithm) to form output from input.

Mental states are representations. As you may know algorithms need the object input to be in some form of symbols, because the actual object can't be computed, only the representation of it.

In fact, Cognitive Science has strong links with Computational modeling/Artificial intelligence and its application to study mental processes.

Is interesting to note that this kind of theories born little later than Theoretical Computer Science. Alan Turing in his 1950 paper Computing Machinery and Intelligence argues against all the major objections to the proposition that "machines can think". He even created the famous Turing Test, wich in response originated the Chinese Room experiment. Altough there is some philosophical background about "machines" well before Alan Turing, for example in Descartes Discourse on the Method.

As a related thing, there is this book: The Emperor's New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds and The Laws of Physics (1989). In wich Roger Penrose argue against the algorithmic approach for consciousness. He states that human consciousness can not be computable by a conventional Turing machine (wich is a Theoretical Computer Sicence model). And he hypothesizes about quantum mechanics playing a role in the understand of consciousness. Actually, there is a newer book from the same author extending the same topic.

Another books that may be of interest for you:

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    Maybe the MIND ( similar to what Putnam wrote ) is a 'self sustaining' conglomerate of 'programs' that constantly maintains it's 'presently' important invariant qualities all the while being able to 'change' various qualities or 'info.-packages' 'within' itself ; it is constantly able to reprogram itself towards any 'semi-coalesced' goals it can set up. So it is a self-programming info. and program management system. It also should not be able to cause 'dis-functional' change to itself.
    – user128932
    Commented Sep 18, 2014 at 5:57

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