Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary
Barsalou: Perpetual symbol systems

External symbols are a better bet than perceptual symbols

A. J. Wells a1
a1 Department of Social Psychology, The London School of Economics and Political Science, London WC2A 2AE, England


Barsalou's theory rightly emphasizes the perceptual basis of cognition. However, the perceptual symbols that he proposes seem ill suited to carry the representational burden entailed by the architecture in which they function, given that Barsalou accepts the requirement for productivity. A more radical proposal is needed in which symbols are largely external to the cognizer and linked to internal states via perception.