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machine brains

ray scanlon rscanlon at wsg.net
Tue Sep 16 18:16:23 EST 1997

     Category error revisited

Being engaged in the serious endeavor of explaining the brain, I
cannot allow a sophistic phrase to interfere. It is very clear in
my mind what I mean by subjective and objective. When I speak of
neurons in the brain I speak of the objective. When I speak of
inserting an electrode in a rat's brain I speak of the objective.

But I also have a subjective view of my brain, why should I ignore
it? When my stomach is empty, neurons are activated that I
experience as hunger. Why should I not use the shorthand of
speaking of hunger for this activity? If the philosopher is upset,
that is HIS problem. I am not explaining the brain for him.

The emotions (depression, shame, disgust, terror, hatred, rage,
surprise, excitement, ecstacy, passion, joy, desire) are the
subject experience of certain activated neurons. I will use these
words as shorthand for the activation of those neurons.

In the same way I will refer to axonal pulses using 'signal
energy', 'information', 'motor program' as I find these words
useful. A certain multi-channeled sequence of pulses I will refer
to as a 'motor program' when appropriate.

I will not be inhibited by some word merchant saying, "Category
error". I will trust in the maturity of my auditors as I switch
from the objective to the subjective.



email: rscanlon at wsg.net

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