The Subtlety of Sameness
Robert M. French, 1995

Foreword by Daniel Dennett

If only by definition, it is impossible for two things, any two things, to be exactly the same. And yet, there is nothing puzzling or inappropriate about our everyday use of "the same." We see nothing odd or wrong about ordinary utterances such as: "That's the same man I saw yesterday at lunch," or "We both wore the same outfit," or "I feel the same way my wife does about abortion," or, finally "That's the same problem the Americans had in Vietnam." What makes all these uses of "the same" (and this one, too) the same?

The answer is: analogy-making. And Analogy-making is what this book is all about. Since no two things are ever identical, what we really mean when we say "X is the same as Y," is that, within the particular context under discussion, X is the counterpart of Y. In other words, X is analogous to Y. This book explores the complex mechanisms underlying everday analogy-making, and it does so largely by means of a computer program called Tabletop.

Chapter 1. From Recognition to Analogy-Making: The Central Role of Slippage

Chapter 2. The Tabletop Microdomain

Chapter 3. The Architecture of Tabletop

Chapter 4. Tabletop's Performance Up Close

Chapter 5. Tabletop's Personality Profile

Chapter 6. Comparisons with Other Work

Chapter 7. Summary and Conclusions

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