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[Neuroscience] Re Philosophical foundations of neuroscience

konstantin kouzovnikov via neur-sci%40net.bio.net (by myukhome At hotmail.com)
Fri Dec 1 10:04:42 EST 2006


Thanks for the reply.

    KK: f. and should be understood only within the context of */ the 
behavior and **/ the actual environment?>

GS: Are you asking me whether or not I think that the physiology of behavior
must be understood in the context of behavior and the environment?

That would constitute an assault on your intelligence, so, thank you for 
letting me to attempt to clarify my statements.

1. You took each statement from the (rather short) LIST of my statements and 
described how you relate to each of them. This is about the main point I was 
attempting to make in my previous message. Let me say this: when each of 
these statements is taken and considered separately, its meaninglessness 
becomes one of the possible natural outcomes of scrutiny, just like you 
conveyed it to us. In other words, the separate statements I used, just like 
separate terms I also used, may convey the meaning to the reader ONLY when 
considering the entire LIST of these statements (it's like…  multitasking, 
working memory wise).
2. So, what I have said is not a common place statement about something as 
banal as the need to include the context within these considerations. My 
point is that when any of the several aspects on my list are NOT properly 
considered, or excluded, or misinterpreted, it is difficult or impossible to 
extract the meaning a/ either entirely or b/ from a particular statement, 
which is what your response clearly indicates.

I think another way to say the same thing that I attempted in my previous 
message is to quote Vygotski who said that in order to call an animal a 
mammal one is required to understand the entire system.

Vygotski was also one of the psychologists who took the position of what 
they used to call "dialectic" logic which, in my bastardized version, would 
be interpreted as perceiving, maintaining, and working with at least two 
"linear" logics at the same time, also because of accepting a fundamental 
principle of any phenomenon in life always driven by at least two 
oppositional forces (it is like in semiotics: each symbol has at least two 
meanings; naturally, "meaninglessness" could be one of them).

The "dialectic" type of thinking requires training, mostly in the area of 
simultaneous processing of two not necessarily immediately "convertible" 
mental constructs while keeping in mind that a/ each is being driven by its 
own set of rules and b/ there are a "higher level" rules, when applied to a 
meta-system (it is like The Dogma and The Cannons among which the prior is 
not changeable, but the latter is, potentially). I think Pierre Trudeau 
meant exactly the same thing when was describing Joe Clark's potential for 
being a Prime Minister of Canada as someone who "can't chew and fart at the 
same time". I guess the 9 months of Clark's life at the top of the Canadian 
government was a testimony to Trudeau's astuteness.

One would have a very difficult time to accuse in the same degree of 
astuteness any author of a book on neuroscience who still attempts to apply 
formal, which is a linear, logic to the content of neuroscientific work. It 
constitutes not only an intentional neglect of a number of non-leaner logics 
being actively applied to the phenomenon of human mind and behavior in the 
past 50 or so years, but a fundamental methodological fallacy as in having 
an assumption that the methodological apparatus they have chosen is adequate 
for the subject selected. One would admire the intention, as in phrenology, 
but would reserve the personal reading time for something different.

In short, there is a function for the reductionism in neuroscience. In fact, 
it does not matter what it actually is. The matter is that such reductionism 
is balanced by the context of what "the school of neuroscience" is, just 
like what I mean when I say "thinking". At the right place and the right 
time reductionism is "a good thing" as Martha Stewart would say. However, 
the thinking itself about it is as:

- doing a figure-ground task, i.e. it is difficult, in some conditions
- chewing and farting at the same time
- driving a car and talking on a mobile while keeping a doughnut in the hand 
which is about to shift a gear while the coffee cup is about to escape the 
flimsy cup holders intentionally left with no design changes by the German 
car manufacturers for years now ….. What is it? Covert aggression against 
North Americans? This is really the question I'd like to find the answer 
since the yesterday's incident…


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