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Bennett and Hacker: Village Idiots or Philosophers?

AlphaOmega2004 OmegaZero2003 at yahoo.com
Tue Feb 10 15:19:08 EST 2004

I think the conceptual error these guys make is that one cannot explain the
psychological terminology by reference to neuropsychological concepts.

These are *all* bona fide *ways* of conceptualizing a space that is
multi-dimensional in the broadest sense.  TO think one can divorce the
psychological from the neuropsychological is non sense.

"David Longley" <David at longley.demon.co.uk> wrote in message
news:OIhMTrQqqMKAFwqJ at longley.demon.co.uk...
> In article <fa69ae35.0402100312.46e9deb8 at posting.google.com>, Eray
> Ozkural  exa <erayo at bilkent.edu.tr> writes
> >I was writing about the failure of insisting on a "singular point of
> >view" in dealing with the mind, in a discussion with Neil W. Rickert.
> >
> >I got this "Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience" book by Bennett
> >and Hacker from the library, it is an unnecessarily thick book which
> >is meant to be a dismissal of entire neuroscience simply by worship of
> >Wittgenstein. Now, that's a singular point of view!
> >
> >My stomach could tolerate reading only the foreword and introduction.
> >Here is a quote from the introduction which I found very lively. It
> >doesn't need any comments. Have fun reading it. Emphasis not mine,
> >they are by the village idiots.
> >
> >----------------------------------
> >...
> >Talk of the brain's perceiving, thinking, guessing or believing, or of
> >one hemisphere of the brain's knowing things of which the other
> >hemisphere is ignorant, is widespread among contemporary
> >neuroscientists. ... But that is quite mistaken...
> >...
> >Neuroscience can investigate the neural conditions and concominants of
> >the acquisition, possession and exercise of sentient powers by
> >animals. It can discover the neural preconditions for the possibility
> >of the exercise of distinctively human powers of thought and
> >reasoning, of articulate memory and imagination, of emotion and
> >volition... What it *cannot* do is *replace* the wide range of
> >ordinary psychological explanations of human activities in terms of
> >reasons, intentions, purposes, goals, values, rules and conventions by
> >neurological explanations... And it *cannot* explain how an animal
> >perceives or thinks by reference to the brain's, or some part of the
> >brain's, perceiving or thinking.
> >...
> >In Part II we investigate the use of concepts of perception, memory,
> >mental imagery, emotion and volition in current neuroscientific
> >theorizing. From case to case we show that conceptual unclarity -
> >failure to give adequate attention to the relevant conceptual
> >structures - has often been the source of theoretical error and the
> >grounds for misguided inferences. It is an error, a *conceptual*
> >error, to suppose that perception is a matter of apprehending an
> >*image* in the mind (Crick, Damasio, Edelman), or the production of a
> >hypothesis (Helmholtz, Gregory), or the generation of a *3-D* *model*
> >*description* (Marr). It is confused, a *conceptual* confusion - to
> >formulate the binding problem as the problem of combining data of
> >shape, colour and motion to form the *image* of the object perceived
> >(Crick, Kandel, Wurtz). It is wrong, *conceptually* wrong, to suppose
> >that memory is always of the past, or to think that memories can be
> >*stored* in the brain in the form of the strength of synaptic
> >connections (Kandel, Squire, Bennett). And it is mistaken,
> >*conceptually* mistaken, to suppose that the investigation of thirst,
> >hunger and lust is an investigation into emotions (Rolls) or to think
> >that the function of the emotions is to inform us of our visceral and
> >musuloskeletal state.
> >
> >The initial reaction such critical remarks may well be indignation and
> >incredulity. Ho can a flourishing science be fundamentally in
> >error?...
> >...
> >
> >----------------------------------
> >
> >Their claims seem to be remarkably similar to those of certain well
> >established pseudo-scientists in these newsgroups, collectively known
> >as the behaviorist infestation.
> >
> >
> >Thanks,
> >
> >--
> >Eray Ozkural
> I haven't read it, but I will now (unless someone such as Glen, Wolf,
> Rolf etc suggest that it isn't worth it - I've read parts of Baker and
> Hacker's "Language, Sense & Nonsense" 1984 which was a hatchet job on
> theoretical linguistics and semantics). From what I've just read of the
> reviews of the new 2003 book, it looks like they may well cover some of
> the same issues which have been outlined and discussed in this newsgroup
> over recent months (if not years)
> http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/more_reviews.asp?ref=140510855X&site=1
> http://human-nature.com/nibbs/03/kohler.html
> But then as several people have said here before, such concerns have
> been expressed by radical and evidential behaviorists for decades and
> yet people still ignore it in favour of clever sounding gobbledegook.
> -- 
> David Longley

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