(Copyright © 2000 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
According to Arbib, the human mind constructs reality through a network of schemas. A schema is both a mental representation of the world and a process that determines action in the world. Arbib's theory of schemas is based on Pierce's notion of a "habit" (a set of operational rules that, by exhibiting both stability and adaptability, lends itselft to an evolutionary process) and Piaget's notion of a "scheme" (the generalizable characteristics of an action that allow the application of the same action to a different context). Both assume that schemas are compounded as they are built to yield successive levels of a cognitive hierarchy. Categories are not innate, they are constructed through the individual's experience. What is innate is the process that underlies the construction of categories (this is similar to Chomsky's view of the rules of language).
The theory of schemas is consistent with a model of the brain as an evolving self-configuring system of interconnected units.
The construction of reality is also guided by social conventions, as the formation of new schemas is sometimes a social process. Language arises from such a process. Arbib argues that all language is metaphorical and bases its theory of language on Black's interaction theory of metaphor: to understand the meaning of a sentence is not only to be able to identify its referent, but also to call to mind all the schemas associated to it. Metaphor is a necessary ingredient of any symbolic system.
The theory is applied to a wealth of issues in psychoanalysis, hermeneutics, epistemology and even theology.
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