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How Can the Human Mind Occur in the Physical Universe?$
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John R. Anderson

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195324259

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195324259.001.0001

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What Does It Take to Be Human?

What Does It Take to Be Human?

Lessons From High School Algebra

(p.187) 5 What Does It Take to Be Human?
How Can the Human Mind Occur in the Physical Universe?

John R. Anderson

Oxford University Press

Much of our cognitive architecture we share with other primates. The unique feature of the human mind is the ability to acquire nearly arbitrary competences that were not anticipated in our evolutionary history. This is tied to our ability to learn efficiently from instruction, example, and exploration. This ability requires the ability to exercise abstract control over cognition and the ability to process complex relational patterns. This chapter describes the architectural support for these abilities and how they enable abstract control, generalization, and metacognition. High school algebra — a uniquely human competence — is used as a domain to illustrate these unique aspects of the human cognitive architecture.

Keywords:   primates, arbitrary competences, abstract control, relational patterns, metacognition, generalization, school algebra

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