The varieties of potential social structures are infinite. For any natural language, the number of potential sentences is also infinite. In both cases, this suggests a computational operation in which atomic mental symbols compose to form complex molecular representations. This raises a number of questions. Is the computational component of interpersonal cognition an offshoot of language? Is language an offshoot of interpersonal cognition? Without thinking in language, are non-human animals using a computational system to build their social structures? Does one have to say that the mind is literally computational in order to account for infinite variety in language or interpersonal cognition? Could the infinity of language and social structure exist on a wholly abstract level, like numbers, a level which the mind simply grasps? What does it mean for the mind to “grasp” something abstract? Integers also form an infinite set. How is mathematical cognition relation to social and language cognition?
- Instructor: John Bolender