Modulation of Neuronal Output

Jacob Galley gal2 at kimbark.uchicago.edu
Tue Jul 12 17:08:05 EST 1994

lmk2 at garnet.berkeley.edu (Leslie Kay) writes:
>I emphasize the work _perception_, not cognition.  We really don't know
>what a rat or a cat or a rabbit or even a monkey _thinks_ (or for that
>matter, a human ;-) ).  We can,
>however, distinguish sensory from perceptual events.  The sensory event
>would be the evoked potential, and the perceptual event occurs some
>200-300 msec later.  The perceptual event has to do with meaning, while
>the evoked potential does not.

Two things:

(1) This looks to me like a physiology-centric definition of
sensation.  Are you saying that sensation == that nervous activity
which occurs as an immediate and direct result of stimulation of
sensory organs?  If so, I don't think this is the same 'sensation'
that psychologists and philosophers talk about.  Your definition of
sensation excludes mental phenomena, since it is the message sent to
the brain, not the interpretation of the message (which is

This is an intriguing and probably useful way for physiologists to
look at sensation.  However, it may be an abuse or a confusion of the
word.  (But I don't think that the standard empiricist idea of
sensation (as opposed to perception) really refers to anything at all,
so it might as well refer to physiological process, imho.)  I would
rather abandon the word altogether, abandon tacit empircist doctrine,
and read Merleau-Ponty, who argues that attempting to introspectively
analyze percepts into atomistic sensations is pointless (a la gestalt

(2) Re thinking, I suggest abandoning this word too, for the time
being.  Concentrate on the coordination and codetermination between
perception and activity (as one phenomenon, not analyzed into
two---the perception and maintenance of balance would be a good basis
to start with).  Thinking is has got to be some highly convoluted
intermediary control process enmeshed in sensorimotor interaction.


Whoever achieves understanding of the baboon will do more for metaphysics 
than Locke did, which is to say he will do more for philosophy in general,
including the problem of knowlege.
							<-- Charles Darwin

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