Peter Gaffney

Andrew W. Mellon Regional Fellow in the Humanities

20092010 Forum on Connections

Peter Gaffney

Visiting Asst Professor, Haverford College

Connectionism and Ontological Realism

Connectionism, as an emerging paradigm in both cognitive science and artificial intelligence, has come to signal a general transition away from the traditional symbolic paradigm (symbolism) towards non-symbolic approaches to producing and manipulating information. According to William Bechtel and Adele Abrahamsen, authors of Connectionism and the Mind, the new paradigm focuses on the causal processes by which “units excite and inhibit each other,” rather than methods of storing and manipulating symbols. I propose to investigate the specific ways in which this new paradigm engages, challenges or supports Gilles Deleuze’s “ontological realism”: the investigation of how the real may be directly created through those same processes of “subjectivation,” such as language, thought and visual culture, which organize affect into representations.