Symbolic Learning/Symbolic Association/Symbols/Animal/Savage-Rumbaugh/Rumbaugh/Deacon: (Savage-Rumbaugh et al., 1978; 1980 and Savage-Rumbaugh 1986): Experiments with chimpanzees and other species of monkeys. The monkeys get screens with clickable symbols (lexigrams) with which they learn associations of these signs with objects or activities.
Symbolic use of signs: was difficult for the animals to learn, but a rudimentary form of syntactic links developed. Thus, learning went beyond a simple index-like use of the signs.
Groups of symbols have been created for objects or actions. After the animals had learned several symbols in certain combinations, they were confronted with new combinations. Some animals repeated stereotypically the learned combinations, while others tried all possible combinations.
Learning problem: useless combinations cannot be excluded before they occur. The reason for this is that the animals lack an understanding of the possible combinations determined by the properties of the system.
Categories: whether the animals had learned the difference between liquid and solid, turned out when new symbols for new objects were introduced. In fact, the new symbols required considerably fewer attempts until the learning success had been achieved. The animals had also learned certain logical relations between the symbols (lexigrams), not only between symbols and objects.
Symbolic learning: three levels: (represented by two levels and their mapping relations)
Lowermost level: Index-like/sign-like: only direct relations between signs and objects. No correlation between signs, no correlation between objects.
Middle level: Patterns of symbol combinations are formed - still no correlations between the objects.
Top level: Symbolic: here there are correlations on both levels: the level of objects (pragmatic and physical correlations) - on the symbol level: logical relation between the symbolic tokens.
Symbolic learning/conclusion/(s): due to the structure of the relations between symbols among each other, this learning process differs greatly from the learning of signs which are only mapped to objects.
Symbolic reference/Deacon: no single symbol (lexigram) defines its reference.
Symbolic learning/Deacon: what makes symbolic learning so difficult is the learning of conditioned higher-level associations. Individuals with rudimentary symbolic abilities have an enormous selection advantage. In the long run, this has made symbolic learning almost infallible._____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
T. W. Deacon
The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of language and the Brain New York 1998
Terrence W. Deacon
Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter New York 2013