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3 The Challenge of (Self-)Consciousness: Kant, Artificial Intelligence and Sense-Making

Baiasu, Sorin



How do we make sense of the countless pieces of information flowing to us from the environment? This question, sometimes called the Problem of Representation, is one of the most significant problems in cognitive science. Some pioneering and important work in the attempt to address the problem of representation was produced with the help of Kant’s philosophy. In particular, the suggestion was that, by analogy with Kant’s distinction between sensibility and the understanding, we can distinguish between high- and low-level perception, and then focus on the step from high-level perception to abstract cognitive processes of sense-making. This was possible through a simplification of the input provided by low-level perception (to be reduced, for instance, to a string of letters), which the computer programme was supposed to ‘understand’. Most recently, a closer look at Kant’s model of the mind led to a breakthrough in the attempt to build programmes for such verbal reasoning tasks: these kinds of software or ‘Kantian machines’ seemed able to achieve human-level performance for verbal reasoning tasks. Yet, the claim has sometimes been stronger, namely, that some such programmes not only compete with human cognitive agents, but themselves represent cognitive agents. The focus of my paper is on this claim; I argue that it is unwarranted, but that its critical investigation may lead to further avenues for how to pursue the project of creating artificial intelligence.


Baiasu, S. (2022). 3 The Challenge of (Self-)Consciousness: Kant, Artificial Intelligence and Sense-Making. In Kant and Artificial Intelligence (105-128). De Gruyter.

Online Publication Date Apr 4, 2022
Publication Date Apr 19, 2022
Deposit Date Jun 5, 2023
Publisher De Gruyter
Pages 105-128
Book Title Kant and Artificial Intelligence
Chapter Number 3
ISBN 9783110706543