A Neuroscience Question about Kant

Dan Fain fain at cyboscine.etho.caltech.edu
Fri Feb 24 00:59:17 EST 1995


In article <3i5dj3$29c at ixnews2.ix.netcom.com> mcnerney at ix.netcom.com (Gerald McNerney) writes:

> According to Kant, these modes reside in our understanding.  Anything we 
> understand must conform to these categories.
> 
> If this is so, then there must exist some mechanism of understanding 
> which forms these categories.  It would be a set of circuit structures, 
> or chemical messengers or some other neural mechanism that causes this. 
>  Is there anything in neuroscience that resembles this, that could 
> account for either the 12 categories of the understanding, or the space 
> and time modes of perception?

This metatheory would have to be predictive at lower levels of
abstraction in order to be tied to neural function.  For example, it
might predict that people would not make certain distinctions, or
formulate certain thoughts.  This would be just a starting point, and
it would be within the realm of cognitive science (see sci.cognitive)
or symbolic artificial intelligence (see comp.ai.philosophy).

Even if this theory could be verified through psychological
experiment, it would be quite hard to relate it to low-level brain
mechanisms.  For example, phonemes may be thought of as atomic units
of language--yet no one has explained their perception in terms of
neurobiology.

Dan Fain
Caltech



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