the liver and the brain

Alex Green dralexgreen at
Fri Sep 3 08:46:52 EST 2004

"Glen M. Sizemore" <gmsizemore2 at> wrote in message news:<ZcIZc.95169$JG7.82678 at>...
> AG: There is a genuine problem here. Some contributors are seeking a
> physical description of experience.
> GS: Do they also seek a physical description of life? Good luck.

Of course!

> GS: Why don't you clue us in as to how to "reduce" biological phenomena to
> "physics."

Science is about explaining observations in terms of our inferences
about the physical world. The view that we call our 'view of the
world' but which is actually a bizarre construction based on brain
activity is an observation that we all experience individually. We can
share some information about the properties of this experience but
most important of all we each have this experience. The task of the
scientist when confronted with a natural phenomenon such as this is to
describe it in terms that can be related to the physical world. ie:
the arrangement of things in the experience, describing the
independent axes for arranging things in particular, the vectorial
peoperties of things (are things one-sided, can left and right be
distinguished), the temporal properties of things etc. It could of
course be maintained that conscious experience is a field of
interpretation - that is fine, it can still be analysed physically and
would still form an interpretation space.

Cognitive scientists and neurophysiologists are doing scientific work,
searching for the neural correlates of conscious experience amongst
other related pursuits. In fact the work of Libet is a thoroughgoing
confirmation of some forms of behaviourism and also an insight into
conscious experience. It is intriguing that conscious experience seems
to lag events in the world and even most events in  the brain, this
allows Skinnerian behaviourism but also suggests conscious experience
is not a reflexive phenomenon. (But we knew that from the homunculus
argument which shows that conscious experience cannot be directly the
result of data flow).

Behaviourists do scientific work when they study behaviour and they
should not dismiss the cognitive and neurophysiological approaches
which are valid in most of the areas in which they are applied.

Behaviourism denies itself access to the paradigms necessary for the
scientific investigation of conscious experience, as you say,
behaviourists have no idea of even how to begin.  The fact of the
matter is that conscious experience exists, it has a physical form,
and it appears to be epiphenomenal but appearances can be deceptive
when we understand so little about space-time, QM and causes and

Best Wishes

Alex Green

More information about the Neur-sci mailing list