[Neuroscience] Re: Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience

Glen M. Sizemore via neur-sci%40net.bio.net (by gmsizemore2 At yahoo.com)
Thu Nov 16 19:29:42 EST 2006

JH: Hmmm ... some would say I need lots of help ... . But I am beyond

My problems are:


Many texts suggest consciousness is a thing. Some texts avoid this
quasi dualism by asserting it is a process. So they think, process or
thing, one is still being dualist. I struggle to know what the fuss is
about, perhaps I'm missing something but to me consciousness is simply
that which is attended too and that "attending" is largely contingent
upon innate matters and the organism's history. Hence the search for
consciousness is a nonsense.

GS: Here's a rule of thumb that may help: the meaning of a term is to be 
found in its usage. More technically is Skinner's "Meanings are to be found 
among the independent variables of which verbal behavior is a function." 
[That's quoting from "memory," so it may only be close.] In any event, one 
meaning of "conscious" is simply close to: "awake and behaving." Another 
colloquial use is simply "aware of," as in "John became conscious of the 
phone ringing downstairs," but this is no longer very idiomatic, if it ever 
was. Then there are a host of technical definitions, some of them in terms 
of other dubious technical definitions. That is, the meanings are 
complicated; the usage is not some sort of more-or-less direct response to 
something like "chair," or "running," they are responses to, largely, other 
verbal responses. You will probably not see the significance of he latter 
statement, but it is something to contemplate - behaviorism is sort of like 

JH: Science in general

Many scientists seem to believe that philosophy is unimportant. I
cannot understand this, everyone brings their philosophy (consciously
or otherwise, whatever such a distinction means!) to their endeavours,
and hence it is wise to always think deeply about what we bring to our



You are right, and this paper lays out, very nicely, why.



If not storage then what?

GS: Change. The brain is changed when animals are exposed to certain 
environments and, as a consequence, they behave differently. It does not 
follow that anything is "stored." And besides, that leads to a view that 
Bennett and Hacker talk a lot about, and to which they give a (brilliant) 
name: the mereological fallacy.

JH: In one sense it seems simple enough:
Physiologic activity A corresponds with experience B. I say
"physiologic" because in my world brain function cannot be divorced
from the body or its immediate environment. Is there something deeper
here?  For example, "representation" implies some active "replication"
of the thing perceived. Yet one could argue that radar is a
representation of specific aspects of the world, and while that is a
representation, it is not a replication. It is easy to imagine that in
seeing we have "little pictures in our heads". Does that mean that when
I hear something somewhere in my skull that sound is reverberating? Of
course not. We need an entirely new way to think about "remembering". I
am at a complete loss as to how to even approach this problem.

GS: That's why I would rather be me. :) I am not at a COMPLETE loss. Bennett 
and Hacker may be, at least a little (lost that is) but they pretty clearly 
nail why it would be charitable to describe the conceptual structure of 
cognitive "science," and cognitive neuro-"science" as "crap."

JH: Language

Methinks we need to create a whole new set of conceptual tools and
nomenclature to the endeavour of neuroscience yet we seem content to
trundle along with our philosophical and epistemological baggage

GS: It exists, but it will never catch on, for the reasons that Dave Schaal 
points out. It is behavioristic.

"John H." <j_hasenkam At yahoo.com.au> wrote in message 
news:1163715891.692785.227560 At b28g2000cwb.googlegroups.com...
> Glen M. Sizemore wrote:

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