Questions on the Nature of memory, personality, etc.

David Longley David at
Sun May 23 07:30:09 EST 2004

In article <85d56b27.0405222355.1ea436ec at>, Robert 
M?rtin <robertmaertin at> writes
>You could have read it to the end... but if neural networks are too
>homuncular for you...
>I'm sorry that we failed to communicate. In the future I will avoid
>contributing to articles where this unproductive
>idealistic battle for concepts is fought. Sorry. This is not my
>Please read the last posting to the end.
>One last question. You mentioned that you published some articles. May
>I ask where to find them ?
>I really want to get an impression of how your opinion precipitates in
>your work.
>Robert Maertin

For what it's worth Robert, I think you may be personalizing this in an 
unhelpful way (to both you and others). This is, after all, being 
cross-posted to a number of philosophy groups as well as 
bionet.neuroscience. I hope this explains why (I'm referring above to 
your second sentence to be explicit).

Glen is making some subtle, but important remarks which are widely held 
(but maybe not espoused as often as they should be) by many who work or 
are trained  in the field of Behaviour Analysis (and the more reputable 
parts of behavioural neuroscience as well). That work has been 
instrumental in establishing many of the reputable results of 
neuroscience, and it has been doing so for decades. One of the rare 
qualities that Glen has is that he is not only prepared to make these 
points here, but that he makes them *clearly*. That is does not impugn 
your contributions by the way <g>.

If you really wanted to study his papers, you could just look up the 
references on Google or Science Citations/Index Medicus etc, but I don't 
think you'd be able to glean what you are asking for that way - at least 
not easily.

I'm not sure where either of you are fundamentally disagreeing below, 
but I think I know what Glen may be objecting to. It *may* just be 
sloppy talk in one part of what you say below so I have highlighted it 
with asterisks. I say *may*, because you fall into that way of talking 
in a number of places elsewhere (but maybe you don't think it matters - 
I note your remark about "idealism"). These "slips" (as I'll call them) 
are rare, and I think much else that you say is sound, and on the right 
track (for what that's worth <g>). Anyway, here it is in context::


"Here comes the last paragraph I have told you to wait for :

Now you and I may be at a point to understand one another.
As you stated above, as soon as we use behavioural neurobiology,
computational and signal processing theories we actually come to a
point where it seems to be possible to explain and assemble all the
"little bits" (remember : one piece was spatial attention for example)
that show us how physiology mediates behaviour.


" And then "cognition" disappears. Which was my point".


"Yes... it disappears. But only because the terms used by cognitive
science were ill fated from the beginning.
Most of them are too boastful and ill-defined to ever become
elucidated. The classical computational metaphor of mind cCMM (the
brain is a symbol manipulating device) has failed. Good old fashioned
AI, based upon the cCMM does not produce results. Yes cognitive
science (seen in such a manner) is dead.

As you know, I am studying cognitive science right now. And I already
wrote that (almost) everybody at our institute is well aware of
everything that has been said above.
So... why go on ?

The reason is both strange and simple. If we take the bold term
"cognition" and define it as the set of all the "small pieces" we can
try to define and elucidate using the above methods... then we are
doing baby-steps in the right direction :

explaining how physiology extracts & refines environmental
information and produces appropriate behaviour.

But... on second thought I don't care if it's called "cognitive
science" whatnot... as long as I am not forced to do
textbook-cognitive science.
I only think that it does not sound too bad.
The department of the institute of cognitive science here in
Osnabrueck that I love and respect most is the department of
"Neurobiopsychology" (under
consctuction, but still quite nice).
I think "Neurobiopsychology" is a nice name... "

You may think this "hair-splitting", but I fear it is not. It tends to 
be "the thin end of the wedge".

Kind regards,
David Longley

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