Subscribe
Subscribe
MY AMERICAN SCIENTIST
LOG IN! REGISTER!
SEARCH
 
Logo IMG
HOME > My Amsci > Restricted Access

The Uniqueness of Human Recursive Thinking



Restricted Access The content you've requested is available without charge only to active Sigma Xi members and American Scientist subscribers.


If you are an active member or an individual subscriber, please log in now in order to access this article.

If you are not a member or individual subscriber, you can:



Abstract:

Figure 4. Chimpanzees are as likely to beg...Click to Enlarge Image

A dog chasing his tail has nothing on the human race. Recursion—a process that calls itself, or calls a similar process—may be a fundamental aspect of what it means to be human. In the human mind, recursion is actually much more complex than the notion of returning to the same place over and over. We put phrases within phrases because we hold thoughts in memory; thus we have language and a sense of a past self. We are aware that we are thinking about what someone else is thinking; on this awareness we build a sense of self and the ability to be deceptive or to act on shared belief. Recursion gives us the ability to mentally travel in time. It is fundamental to the evolution of technology: Human beings are the only animals that have been observed to use a tool to make a tool. Looking at human language and thought, psychologist Corballis finds recursion within recursion.


Connect With Us:

Facebook Icon Sm Twitter Icon Google+ Icon Pinterest Icon RSS Feed Instagram Icon

Subscribe to Free eNewsletters!


Read Past Issues on JSTOR

JSTOR, the online academic archive, contains complete back issues of American Scientist from 1913 (known then as the Sigma Xi Quarterly) through 2005.

The table of contents for each issue is freely available to all users; those with institutional access can read each complete issue.

View the full collection here.


RSS Feed Subscription

Receive notification when new content is posted from the entire website, or choose from the customized feeds available.


Write for American Scientist

Review our submission guidelines.


Subscribe to American Scientist