IUBio Biosequences .. Software .. Molbio soft .. Network News .. FTP

T. S. Kuhn's "Paradigm Shift" - why it's 'difficult'

KP_PC k.p.collins at worldnet.att.net
Sun Aug 31 02:25:24 EST 2003

         "How, then, are scientists  brought
         to  make  this transposition? Part
         of the answer is that they  are very
         often not. Copernicanism made few
         converts for almost a century after
         Copernicus' death.  Newton's work was
         not generally  accepted, particularly
         on the continent, for more  than half
         a century  after the PRINCIPIA appeared.
         Priestly never accepted the oxygen
         theory, nor Lord Kelvin the  electro-
         magnetic theory, and so  on. The
         difficulties  of conversion have often
         been  noted  by scientists themselves.
         Darwin, in a particularly perceptive
         passage at the end of his ORIGIN OF
         SPECIES wrote: 'Although I  am fully
         convinced of the truth of the views
         given  in this volume...,  I by  no
         means  expect to convince experienced
         naturalists  whose  minds  are stocked
         with a multitude of facts all viewed,
         during a long course  of  years, from
         a  point of view directly opposite to
         mine.  ...[B]ut I look  with confidence
         to the future, -  to young and rising
         naturalists, who will be able to view
         both sides of the question with impar-
         tiality.' And  Max Planck, surveying
         his own career in  his SCIENTIFIC AUTO-
         BIOGRAPHY,  sadly remarked  that 'a
         new  scientific  truth does not triumph
         by convincing its opponents and making
         them see  the  light,  but  rather be-
         cause its opponents eventually die, and
         a new generation grows up  that is famil-
         iar with it." (THE STRUCTURE OF SCIENTIFIC
         REVOLUTIONS, by Thomas S.  Kuhn, Chicago,
         1970, pp. 150-1, with permission).

"Paradigm shift". Why it is so 'difficult' derives
in the way that neural plasticity occurs as a
function of TD E/I-minimization-governed experience.

That is, as an individual experiences, the neural
structure of the individual's nervous system embod-
ies the individual's experience be-cause the nerual
tissue grows in a way that, via TD E/I-minimization,
converges upon efficient cross-correlation of sens-
ory and motor information-processing dynamics.

The benefit to the individual is that, via these
dynamics, his or her nervous system acquires an
efficient capability with respect to directing
behavior within the individual's 'typical'
experiential environment - and, to the degree
that it occurs, this enhances the individual's
survival propensity.

This whole set of things is abstracted in the form
of the "continuum of relative familiarities" in AoK,
Ap4. Recall that there exist only two ways to
"finitize" [to make finite] elements within one's
experiential environment: 'moving toward' or 'moving
away from'. These constitute the two endpoints of the
continuum of relative familiarities. As one proceeds
from one end of the continuum to the other, one's
nervous system goes from "finitizing" its host
organism's experiential environment positively to
being unable to finitize it [the "zone of randomness"]
to finitizing it negatively. [Darwin's comments in
the Kuhn quote above fairly describe the continuum
and folks' behaviors with respect to it.]

The continuum's abstraction [idealized simplification]
translates directly into the topologically-distributed
nerual dynamics that occur within nervous systems. I
used the abstraction in AoK in the hope of giving folks
a 'handle' on the non-idealized nerual dynamics - one
that the reader could apply within his or her everyday

"Finitization' is just TD E/I-minimization. TD E/I-
minimization is just what occurs within nervous
systems as they perform information-processing work
while converging upon the manifestation of
'appropriate' behavior, given any stimulus set.

Superficially, this is all quite simple and easy to
comprehend, but its full comprehension is Difficult
be-cause its full comprehension interferes with the
'blind' TD E/I-minimization that's inherent in all
'typical' behavioral manifestations. For example,
say one is a Physicist [or any of the 'roles'
expressed in the Kuhn quote above]. One has been
working long and hard, in interaction with one's
colleagues, and has become 'familiar' with the state
of the art within Physics in order that one's work
will be received as advancing the state of that art.
When one works this way, one's nervous system achieves
TD E/I-minimization with respect to the established
state of the art - one becomes 'familiar' with it.

All the Difficulty derives in the fact that such TD
E/I-minimization with respect to the status quo adapts
a nervous system to the status quo, 'placing' it's
stuff at the 'moving toward' end of the continuum of
relative familiarities. Thereafter, anything that
diverges from the 'familiar' [TD E/I-minimized] status
quo will result in the occurrence of TD E/I(up) within
an individual's nervous system be-cause the divergence
will be experienced by folks as 'unfamiliar' - TD

As a result, folks' nervous systems 'wanting' to
achieve TD E/I-minimization, "finitize" their neural
dynamics by 'moving away from' the source of the
TD E/I(up), the divergent behavior of folks like
Darwin, Priestly, Maxwell and Planck [or the Kid
with a bunch of body piercings, etc.]

It's all just 'movement' upon the continuum of rel-
ative familiarities.

As it's presented in AoK, the continuum of relative
familiarities in greatly oversimplified. It's actually
4-D, and to comprehend it in fullness one has to fully
grasp the functional Neuroanatomy as it's discussed in
the rest of AoK, with the aid of other good references.
And as is discussed in AoK, the 'moving toward' and
'moving away from' always derive in an individual's
experience - so, if an individual's experience largely
entails existence within a deprived or abusive environ-
ment, the individual will tend to manifest behaviors
that are literally, although 'subconsciously', calcu-
lated to perpetuate the 'familiar' deprived or abusinve
dynamics with which the individual has become 'familiar'.

All of the bullets that are flying - all of the bombs
and misiles that are devastating their targets - gain
their impetuses via the neural dynamics that are dis-
cussed in this post, and in more depth in AoK and the
refs cited in AoK.

The interminable-ness of the bullets, bombs and misiles
is nothing other than these neural dynamics in action -
folks' nervous systems 'striving' to 'protect' their
capacities for achieving TD E/I-minimization by striv-
ing to perpetuate their merely-'familiar' experiential-
environmental correlates.

The Killing is all 'blindly'-automated TD E/I-minimiza-
tion, itself left 'unfamiliar'.

It's a Difficult problem be-cause, as was discussed
above, its only solution constitutes a TD E/I(up)-
generating circumstance.

"The difficulties of conversion" of which Kuhn wrote
with respect to "paradigm shifts" in Science are one
and the same stuff with respect to each individual's
commonplace experience - as soon as anyone proposes
anything that diverges from this or that 'familiar'
status quo, those around her or him experience the
TD E/I(up) that always accompanies encounters with
the relatively 'unfamiliar', and they tend to
'blindly' and automatically 'move away from' the
divergent proposal, even though doing so precipitates
devastation and bloodshed.

Communicating understanding with respect to how and
why nervous systems do function 'blindly' and auto-
matically in this way constitutes the whole of the
solution to the problem of "man's inhumanity to man".

The slaughter will continue until this one thing is

This solution is Difficult, not because comprehending
it's stuff is difficult, but be-cause acknowledging
it constitutes a circumstance in which everything
within each individual's experience is rendered
=temporarily= "unfinitized" [see "rendering useless",
AoK, Ap8].

It's 'funny' - before one comprehends the solution,
one 'sees' only the Difficulty, but after one becomes
'familiar' with the solution one sees clearly that the
actual 'difficulty' derived in the absence of under-
standing and 'wonders' why making the "transposition"
in the solution was so 'difficult'.

But there it is - what the future of Humanity comes
down to.

Becoming Trulyhuman, at last through the conscious,
loving, choosing to understand how our nervous systems
process information - by 'putting off gratification'
with respect to everything else in order to, first,
get this one thing straight.

It's not a 'dropping' of everything else.

It's just seeing that nervous systems are formed
through experience, and, since each individual's
experience is unique, each nervous system's
functioning will be commensurately unique, and
that's OK.

Almost all of what makes it 'difficult' is that
there's a lot of stuff - the slaughter, destruc-
tion, etc., that's old-long-since 'familiar', and,
therefore, strongly TD E/I(down) correlated, tend-
ing, therefore, to be relatively-strongly 'blindly'-
automated - "perpetuation of the negative-familiar".

What actually makes it Difficult is that the
hows and whys of nervous system function remain
stuff that's 'unfamilair' to most folks, and, be-
cause of that, most folks cannot think the solu-
tion's thought - it's a big 'nothing' to them -
trivially-'dismissable' trivially-'moved away
from'. It 'rings no bells' within them - they
cannot begin to see it.

But "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a
single step", and the communication of an en-
compassing thought begins with the communication
of its least parts.

The choice is to endure slaughter and devastation
interminably, or to do the work of understanding
how our nervous systems process information.

Please forgive me this, yet one more post that I
understand will be temporarily 'off-putting'.

I Love you in that way.


More information about the Neur-sci mailing list

Send comments to us at biosci-help [At] net.bio.net