[Neuroscience] Re: Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience

Glen M. Sizemore via neur-sci%40net.bio.net (by gmsizemore2 At yahoo.com)
Wed Nov 29 18:30:58 EST 2006

MJ: I disagree with the whole "mereological fallacy" accusation against
"neuroscientists" in general.  First, no sensible neuroscientist would
argue that the brain acts in isolation from the rest of the organism.

GS: You do not seem to understand what the mereological fallacy is. It has 
nothing to do with "the brain act[ing] in isolation from the rest of the 
organism," it has to do with arguing that part of the brain can be said to 
do what whole animals are said to do. If this is synonymous with what you 
are saying, then all I can say is that you are wrong, and I can find 
hundreds of examples in which that is exactly what they say. Any time an 
author says that a part of the brain remembers, or sees, or hears, or 
decides, or thinks, or is conscious etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. 
etc. they are literally talking nonsense as B&H suggest. The brain doesn't 
think, and mercury atoms are not silvery and slippery.

MJ: At the very least, most people would agree that external stimuli coming
in through our sense organs have at least some influence on our
thoughts and behavior. So I don't think anybody is seriously saying
that the brain (the part) is the sole contributor to consciousness or
behavior (the whole). No mereological fallacy is being committed -
that's all just hype to make their book sound more provocative.

GS: Again, you don't seem to have a clue as to what you are talking about.

MJ: Second,
the authors' apparent (I haven't read the book, just scanned the
reviews) utter rejection of the idea that psychological events or
properties or states or whatever can reasonably be said to occur in the
brain, and are essentially identical with functions of the brain, just
seems silly to me given the rapidly accumulating physiological data.

GS: That's why they wrote the book, which I am reasonably certain you will 
never read (neither will I, probably, but then, behaviorists have been 
attacking the mereological fallacy, and the associated notion that 
folk-psychological "things" are "in the brain" for 50 years). Of course it 
seems silly to you. But the alternative view is that folk-psychological 
terms are simply names for behavior and behavior is not inside the head. 
What is inside the head is the neurophysiology that mediates behavioral 
function. There are no data that are counter to that notion.

"jonesmat" <jonesmat At physiology.wisc.edu> wrote in message 
news:1164837093.791653.291120 At 80g2000cwy.googlegroups.com...

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