The Access Paradox in Analogical Reasoning and Transfer: Whither Invariance?

Robert E. Haskell



Despite the burgeoning research in recent years on what is called analogical reasoning and transfer, the problem of how invariant or similarity relations are fundamentally accessed is typically either unrecognized, or ignored in computational cognitive science and artificial intelligence. This problematic is not a new one, being outlined by the epistemological learning paradox found in Plato’s Meno. In order to understand the analogical-access problematic, it is suggested that the concept of analogical reasoning needs to be reconceptualized as a subset of a higher order domain including the lexical concept metaphor, isomorphic relation in mathematics, the concept of homology in biology, stimulus generalization in psychology, transfer of learning in education, and transposition phenomena in perception, as all share the problem of how invariance relations are generated and accessed. A solution is suggested based on two specific evolutionary and neurological models, coupled with findings regarding the cognitive importance of knowledge-base. The paper constitutes a reciprocal complementarity theory to a previous paper on metaphor, suggesting the neurological origins and a recon¬ceptualization of what are commonly called analogical and metaphorical reasoning. The paper also introduces a higher order form of analogical reasoning called analogical progression. Implications for research on analogical reasoning are discussed indicating the need for a paradigm shift in analogical reasoning research. The paper concludes with a four-stage model of analogical access.


analogy; reasoning; transfer; access problem; computational approach; computational apprach critique

Full Text:



Asch, S., (1955). On the use of metaphor in the description of persons. In, Werner, H. (Ed.). On Expressive Language, (29-38). MA: Clark University Press.

Ascher, R. (1961). Analogy in archaeological interpretation. Western Journal of Anthropology, 17, 317-325. Press.

Balaban, O. (1994).The paradox of the Meno an Plato’s theory of recollection. Semiotica 98, 265-275.

Bertalanffy, L. (1963). General systems theory. New York: George Braziller.

Bharucha, Jamshed, J. and W. Einar Menci. (1996). Two Issues In Auditory Cognition: Self-Organization Of Octave Categories And Pitch-Invariant Pattern Recognition. Psychological Science, 7, 142-149.

Black, M. (1962). Models and metaphors. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press. Boom, J. (1991). Collective development and the learning paradox. Human Development, 34, 273-287.

Brewer, W. E (1989). The activation and acquisition of knowledge. In: Vosniadou, S. and Anthony, A. (Eds.), (pp. 532-545) Similarity and analogical reasoning, New York: Cambridge University Press, p. 535.

Brown, A. L., & Campione, J.C. (1984). Three faces of transfer: Implications for early competence, individual differences, and instruction. In M. Lamb, A. L. Brown, & B. Rogoff (Eds.). Advances in developmental psychology (Vol. 3, pp. 143-192.) Hillsdale New Jersey: Erlbaum.

Calvert, B. (1974). Meno’s paradox reconsidered. Journal of the History of Philosophy, 12 145-152; Cambridge University Press.

Campbell, D.T. (1960). Blind variation and selective retention in creative thought as in other knowledge processes. Psychological Review, 67', 380-400.

Ceci, S, and Ruiz, A. (1993). Transfer, abstractness, and intelligence. In Detterman, D.K.; Sternberg, R.J. (Eds.). Transfer on trial: Intelligence, cognition, and instruction. (pp. 168-191) Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

Cheng, P.W. ; Holyoak, K. J. (1989). On the natural selection of reasoning theories. Cognition, 33(3), 285-313.

Chernigovskaya, T.V .(1994). Cerebral lateralization for cognitive and linguistic abilities: neuropsychological and cultural aspects. Studies in Language Origins, 3, 55-76.

Chiarello, C. (1991). Interpretation of word meanings by the cerebral hemispheres: One is Not Enough In: Paula J. Schwanenflugel, et al. (Eds.). The Psychology of word meanings (pp. 251_278) Hillddale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Chomsky, N. (1972). Language and mind. Harcourt, Brace, and World.

Clayton, M.C., and Hayes, L J. (1999). Conceptual differences in the analysis of stimulus equivalence. The Psychological Record, 49, 145-161.

Cooper, L. (1960). The rhetoric of Aristotle. New York: Appleton Century Crofts. Cummins, D.D., and Allen, C. (Eds.). (1998). The evolution of mind. New York: Oxford University Press.

Dejong, G. (1989). The role of explanation in analogy; or, the curse of an alluring name. In: Vosniadou, S. and Ortony, A. (Ed.), (pp. 346-365). Similarity and analogical reasoning. New York: Cambridge University Press.

de Kerckhove, D. (1986). Alphabetic literacy and brain processes. Visible Language, 203), 274-293.

Dreistadt, R. (1968). An analysis of the use of analogies and metaphors in science, The Journal Of Psychology, 68, 97-116.

Edelman, G. M. (1987). Neural darwinism: the theory of neuronal group selection. Cambridge, MA.: Perseus Books

Edelman, G. (1992). Bright air, brilliant fire: On the matter of mind. New York: Basic Books.

Eskridge, Thomas C. (1994). A hybrid model of continuous analogical reasoning. In: Holyoak, K. J. and Bamden, John, A . (Eds.). Advances in connectionist and neural computation theory. (Volume 2).(pp. 207-246). Ablex Publishing: Norwood, New Jersey.

Fernandez, J.W. (1991). Metaphor: The theory of tropes in anthropology. Stanford, CA.: Stanford University press.

Fodor, J. A. (1980a). Methodological solipsism considered as a research strategy in cognitive Psychology Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 3, 63-109. p. 65.

Fodor, J. (1980b). Fixation of belief and concept acquisition. In: Piattelli-Palmarini, M. (Ed.). Language and learning: The debate between jean piaget and Noam Chomsky. (pp. 143-162). Cambridge, M.A:Harvard University Press.

Gardner, H. (1985). The mind’s new science:A history of the cognitive revolution. New York: Basic Books.

Gazzaniga, M. (1992). Nature’s brain. New York: Basic Books.

Gentner, D. (1982). Are scientific analogies metaphors? In: Miall, D. s. (Ed.). Metaphor: problems and perspectives, (pp. 106-132. Sussex, England: Harvester Press.

Gentner, D. (1983) Structure mapping: A theoretical framework for Analogy. Cognitive Science,7. 155-170.

Gentner, D. (1988). Analogical inference and analogical access. In: Prieditis, A. (Ed.). Analogica. (pp. 63-88) Los Altos, CA: Morgan Kaufmann.

Gentner, D. (1989). The mechanisms of analogical reasoning. In: Vosniadou, S. and Anthony, A. (Eds.), (pp. 199-241) Similarity and analogical reasoning, New York: Cambridge University Press.

Gick, M. L. (1985). The effect of a diagram retrieval cue on spontaneous analogical transer. Canadian Journal of Psychology, 39, 460-466.

Gick, M. L. and Holyoak, K. J. (1980). Analogical problem solving. Cognitive Psychology, 12, 306-355.

Gick, M. L. and Holyoak, K. J. (1987). The cognitive basis of knowledge transfer. In: Cormier, S. M. and Hagman, J. D. (Eds.). Transfer of learning contemporary research and application (pp. 9-45). New York: Academic Press.

Goodman, N. (1952). On likeness of meaning. In: Linsky, L. (Ed.). Semantics and the philosophy of language. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Gould, S. J. (1977). Eternal metaphors of paleontology. In Hallam, (Ed.). Patterns of evolution: As illustrated by the fossil record (1-26), Amsterdam: Elsevier Pub.

Gould, S. J. and Lewontin, R. C., (1979). The spandrels of San Marco and the panglossian paradigm: A critique of the adaptationist programme. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B, Vol. 205, No. 1161, p. 581-598.

Gray, S. S. (1991) Metacognition and mathematical problem solving. Journal of Developmental Education, 14, 24-28.

Green, T. F. (1979). Learning without metaphor. In: Ortony, A. (Ed.). Metaphor and thought. New York: Cambridge University Press. 462-473. (1956).

Happel, B. L. M & Murre, J. M. J. (1994). Design and evolution of modular neural network architectures. Neural Networks, 7, 985, 1004.

Haskell, R. E. (2001).Cognitive science and the origin of lexical metaphor: A neurofunctional shift (NFS) hypothesis. Theoria et Historia Scientarium. 6, (forthcoming).

—(2000a). Transfer of learning: Cognition, instruction, and reasoning. San Diego, CA.

Academic Press.

—(2000b). Cognitive science, Vichian semiotics and the learning paradox of the Meno: Or what is a sign a sign of? In Perron, P, Sbrocchi, L. G., Colilli, P. & Danesi, M., (Eds.). Semiotics as a bridge between the humanities and the sciences (336-370 )

Toronto: Legas Press.

—(1997). Review of: Mental leaps: Analogy in creative thought, by K. J. Holyoak and P. Thagard, 1995. Metaphor and Symbolic Activity, 12 (1) 89-94.

—(1991). An analogical methodology for the analysis and validation of anomalous cognitive and linguistic operations in small group (fantasy theme) Reports. Small Group Research, 22, 443-474.

—(1989). Analogical transforms: A cognitive theory of origin and development of equivalence transformation, Part I, & II. Metaphor and Symbolic Activity, 4, 247--277).

—(1987a). (Ed.), cognition and symbolic structures: The psychology of metaphoric transformation. Norwood, New Jersey: Ablex.

—(1987b). Giambattista Vico and the discovery of metaphoric cognition. In R.E. Haskell.(Ed.). Cognition and symbolic structures: The psychology of metaphoric transformation, (pp.67-82) Norwood, New Jersey: Ablex.

—(1982). The matrix of group talk: An empirical method of analysis and validation. Small Group Behavior, 2, 419-443.

—(1978a). An analogic model of small group behavior. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 28, 27-54.

—(1978b). The structure of group talk: An analogic method of analysis. Doctoral Dissertation. The Pennsylvania State University.

—(1968a) Anatomy of analogy: A new look. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 8, (161-169).

—(1968b). Toward a general theory of analogy: An interdisciplinary analysis. Masters Thesis. San Francisco State University).

Haslerud, G. M. (1972). Transfer, memory and creativity. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Havelock, E. (1983).77te muse learns to write. New Haven,Conn: Yale University Press. Havelock, Eric (1963). Preface to Plato. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Hayek, F. A. (1952). The sensory order: An inquiry into the foundations of theoretical

psychology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Hesse, M., (1963). Models and analogies in science. New York: Sheed and Ward. Hoffding, H. (1905) On analogy and its philosophical importance. Mind, 14. 199-209. Hoffding, H. (1905) The problems of philosophy. [Tr. Galen M. Fisher, with Preface by William James] New York: Macmillan Co.

Hoffding, H. (1893) Outlines of Psychology. New York: Macmillan.

Hoffman, R.R. (1980). Metaphor in science . In: Honeck, R. P. and Hoffman, R. R. (Eds.). Cognitive psychology and figurative language (pp. 393-423) Hillsdale, New Jersey: Erlbaum Assoc.

Holyoak, K., and Thagard, P. (1995). Mental leaps: Analogy in creative thought. A Bradford Book, MIT Press.

Holyoak, K .J. and Koh, K. (1987). Surface and structural similarity in analogical transfer. Memory and Cognition, 15(4), 332-340.

Holyoak, K. J. (1985). The pragmatics of analogical transfer. In: G.H. Bower (Ed.). The psychology of learning and motivation, (pp. 59-87) New York, Academic Press.

Holyoak, K. J., Junn, E. N. and Billman, D. O. (1984). Development of analogical problem-solving skills. Child Development, 55, 2042-2055. p. 2042.

Hummel J. E. and Holyoak K. J. (1997). Distributed representations of structure: A theory of analogical access and mapping. Psychological Review, 104 (3), 427-466.

Jerne, N. K. (1985, month) The generative grammar of the immune system. Science, 229:1057-1059.

Johnson-Laird, P. N. (1989). Analogy and the exercise of creativity. In Vosniadou, S.; Anthony, (Eds.). Similarity and Analogical Reasoning (pp.313-331) New York: Cambridge University Press.

Johnson-Laird, P. N. (1983). Mental models. Cambridge. MA: Harvard University Press. Keane, M. (1987). On retrieving analogues when solving problems. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 39A, 29-41.

Kling, R. E. (1971). A paradigm for reasoning by analogy. Artificial Intelligence, 2, 147-178.

Kimura, D. and Archibald, Y.(1974). Motor functions of the left hemisphere, Brain, 97. 1974, 337-350.

Koestler, A. (1967). The ghost in the machine. New York: MacMillan.

Kosslyn, S. M. and Koenig , O. (1995). Wet mind: The new cognitive neuroscience. New York: The Free Press.

Kuhn, T. (1970). The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Lakoff, G. and Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Leary, D. E., (1990). (Ed) Metaphors in the history of psychology. NY: Cambridge University Press.

LeDoux, J. (1996). The emotional brain. New York:Simon and Schuster.

Levi, E. H. (1949). An introduction to legal reasoning. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Lorenz, K. Z. (1974). Analogy as a source of knowledge. Science, 18 (July). 229-234. Luria, A. R. (1976). Cognitive development: Its cultural and social foundations.

Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

MacCormac, E. R. (1985). A cogntive theory of metaphor. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Marchant, G„ Robinson, J., Anderson, U. and Schadewald, M., (1991). Analogical transfer and expertise in legal reasoning. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 48, 272-290.

Markman, A. B. & D. Gentner. (1993). Structural alignment during similarity comparisons. Cognitive Psychology 25, pp 431-467.

Marr, D. B. and Sternberg, R. J., (1986). Analogical reasoning with novel concepts: Differential attention of intellectually gifted and nongifted children to relevant and irrelevant novel stimuli. Cognitive Development, 1, 53-72.

McKeachie, W. J. (1987). The new look in instructional psychology: Teaching strategies for learning and thinking. In: De Corte, E, Lodewijks, H.. Parmentier, R. and Span, P. (Eds.). Learning and instruction Volume I (pp.443-456) Oxford: Pergamon Press.

Medin, D. and Ortony, A. (1989). Psychological essentialism. In: Vosniadou, S. and Anthony, A. (Eds.), (pp. 179-195) Similarity and analogical reasoning. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Moline, J. (1969). Meno’s paradox. Phronesis, 14. 155-161.

Nash, H. (1963). The role of metaphor in psychological theory. Behavioral Science, 8, 336-345.

Nickerson, R. S., Perkins, D. N„ Smith, E. E. (1985). Problem solving, creativity, and metacognition. In R. S. Nickerson, D. N. Perkins, and E. E. Smith. (Eds.). The teaching of thinking, (pp. 64-110). Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishing.

Oppenheimer, R. (1956). Analogy in science, American Psychologist, 11. 127-135. Ortony, A. (Ed.). (1979). Metaphor and thought. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Overings, R. L. R.; Travers, R. M. W. (1967). Variation in the amount of irrelevant cues in training and test conditions and the effect upon transfer. Journal of Educational Psychology, 58 62-68.

Pinker, S. & Bloom, P. (1990). Natural language and natural selection. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 13 (4): 707-784.

Plato, Phaedrus (1956). (W. E. Great Dialogues of Plato. (Trans by W.H.D. Rouse) New York: New American Library.

Platt, John. (1962). Functional Geometry and the Determination of Pattern in Mosaic Receptors. Yearbook of the Society for General Systems Research. 7, 103-119.

Plotkin, H. (1998). Evolution in mind. Cambridge, M.A.: Harvard University Press. Polanyi, M. (1967). The tacit dimension. Garden City, N. Y: Doubleday.

Popper, K. R. (1987). Natural selection and the emergence of mind. In: Radnitzky, G. & Bartley, W. W. (Eds.). Evolutionary epistemology, rationality, and the sociology of knowledge, (pp.l 39-155). La Salle, Ill. Open Court Press.

Preus, A. (1970). The continuous analogy: The uses of continuous proportions in Plato and Aristotle. Agora, 1. 21-41.

Pribram, K. H. (1988). Brain organization and perception: Holnomic and structural determinants of figural processing. Mimeograph, manuscript, Stanford University.

Pribram, K. (1986). The cognitive revolution and mind brain issues, American Psychologist, 41, 507-520.

Pribram, K., Newer, M. & Baron, R. (1974). The holographic hypothesis of memory structure in brain function and perception. In Krantz, D„ Atkinson, R., Luce, R„ and Suppes, P. (Eds.). Measurement, psychophysics and neural information processing, (pp. 416-457) II. San Francisco, W. H. Freeman.

Pylyshyn, Z.W. (1979). Metaphorical imprecision and the “top-down” research strategy. In A. Ortony (Ed.). Metaphor and thought (pp.420-436). London: Cambridge University Press.

Quine, W. (1953). From a logical point of view. New York: Harper Torchbooks.

Read, S. J. (1983). Once is enough: Causal reasoning from a single instance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45, 323-334.

Ricoeur, Paul, (1977). The Rule of metaphor: Multi-disciplinary studies of the creation of meaning in language. (Czerny, Robert, tr.), Toronto, University of Toronto Press.

Rips, L. J. (1989). Similarity and typicality, and categorizaion. In: Vosniadou, S. and Anthony, A.(Eds.), (pp.21-59) Similarity and analogical reasoning, New York: Cambridge University Press.

Rohatyn, D. (1974). Reflections on meno’s paradox. Apeiron, 14, 69-73.

Rosch, E., and Mervis, C. (1975). Family resemblances: Studies in the internal structure of categories. Cognitive Psychology, 7, 573-605.

Rumelhart, D. E. (9W-)).Toward a microstructural account of human reasoning. In: Vosniadou, S. and Ortony, A. (Eds.). Similarity and analogical reasoning, (pp. 298- -312) New York: Cambridge University Press, p. 299.

Ryle, G. (1953). Categories. In A. Flew (Ed.). Language and Logic. Series 2, London: Oxford University Press.

Shanon, B. (1988). On the similarity of features. New Ideas in Psychology, 6, 307-321. Shanon, B. (1984). Meno: A cognitive psychological view. British Journal of Philosophyof Science, 35, 129-147.

Schon, D. (1963). Displacement of Concepts. London: Tavistock Publications.

Shibles, W. (1971). Metaphor: An annotated bibliography and history. Whitewater, WL:Language Press.

Sidman, M. (1990). Equivalence relations: Where do they come from? In D. E. Blackman & H. LeJeune (Eds.). Behaviour analysis in theory and practice. Contributions and controversies. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Skoyles, J. R (1984). Alphabet and the western mind. Nature, 309, 409-410.

Simon, H. (1976). Bradie on polanyi on the Meno paradox. Philosophy of Science, 43,147-151.

Singley, M. K., and Anderson, J. R. (1989). The transfer of cognitive skill. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Spellman, B. A. and Holyoak, K. J. (1992). If saddam is hitler then who is george bush? Analogical mapping between systems of social roles. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62(6), 913-933.

Spencer, R. M. and Weisberg, R. W. (1986). Context-dependent effects on analogical transfer. Memory and Cognition, 14(5), 442-449.

Springer, S. P. and Deutsch, G. (1981). Left brain, right brain. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman.

Sternberg, R. J. and Rifkin, B. (1979a). The development of analogical reasoning processes. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 27, 195-232.

Sternberg, R. J., Tourangeau, R. and Nigro, G., (1979b). Metaphor, induction, and social policy: The convergence of macroscopic and microscopic views. In, Ortony, A. (Ed.). Metaphor and thought (pp. 325-353) NY: Cambridge University Press.

Sunstein, Cass, R. (1993). On analogical reasoning. Harvard Law Review, 106, 3, 741-791. Thorndike, E.L. and Woodworth, R.S. (1901). The influence of improvement in one mental function upon the efficiency of other functions. Psychological Review, S.247-261.

Tourangeau, R., (1982). Metaphor and cognitive structure, In Miall, D.S. (Ed.). Metaphor: Problems and perspectives (pp. 14-35). NJ: The Harvester Press.

Tsoukas, H. (1993). Analogical reasoning and knowledge generation in organization theory. Organization Studies, 14, 323-346.

Vosniadou, S. (1989). Analogical reasoning as a mechanism in knowledge acquisition: A developmental perspective. In: Vosniadou, S. and Anthony, A. (Eds.). Similarity and analogical reasoning (pp. 413-437) New York: Cambridge University Press.

Wason, P. C. (1968). Reasoning about a rule. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 20, 273-281.

Weimer, W. B. (1973). Psycholinguistics and Plato’s paradoxes of the Meno. American Psychologist, 28, 15-33.

Winston, P. H. (1978). Learning by creatifying transfer frames. Artificial Intelligence, 10 147-172.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

ISSN 2392-1196 (online)

Partnerzy platformy czasopism