Quest and Approach

As a young man, I stumbled upon a book I still find inspiring. It began this way:

I am a human being, whatever that may be. I speak for all of us who move and think and feel and whom time consumes. I speak as an individual unique in a universe beyond my understanding, and I speak for man. I am hemmed in by limitations of sense and mind and body, of place and time and circumstance, some of which I know but most of which I do not. I am like a man journeying through a forest, aware of occasional glints of light overhead, with recollections of the long trail I have already traveled, and conscious of wider spaces ahead. I want to see more clearly where I have been and where I am going, and above all, I want to know why I am where I am and why I am traveling at all….

N. J. Berrill

Man’s Emerging Mind

Berrill characterizes his book as one man’s contribution to developing a scientific concept of man. This book is my imperfect contribution to that same end: it is in a tradition, begun by Norbert Wiener and Warren McCulloch, which rises directly to Berrill’s challenge. The central goal of that tradition is the explanation of intelligence, both artificial and natural. Beginning with development as the central fact of mind, I attempt here to construct a computationally oriented view of learning around the microgenetic analysis of an ecological study.

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