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Re: [xmca] Educational neuroscience
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- Subject: Re: [xmca] Educational neuroscience
- From: Andy Blunden <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Thu, 25 Jul 2013 12:10:50 +1000
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Greg, of course the premises of my thought experiment are absurd. That
is part of the point of thought experiments.
But I can't agree with your points about complexity or quantum mechanics,
In his "Mind. A Brief Introduction," John R. Searle appeals to quantum
indeterminancy to rescue human freedom from the laws of physics and
biology, to which any organ of the human body is subject. But this is a
huge category error! Free will, the capacity of human beings to
determine their own behavious (by using artefacts) is categorically
different from indeterminacy, the opposite in fact. It would be like
saying that aeroplanes fly, in defiance of gravity, by all their atoms
accidentally moving upwards at the same time.
And complexity is no barrier to science. A pack of 52 playing cards has
a lot of combinations, too, but that does not prevent the strategies of
the poker player being a valid subject for science, even for the
experienced poker player. Complexity, chaos theory and the related
concept of "emergence" function, in this context, like the concept of
God, to cover over the gaps which the natural scientist finds themself
unable to cover in the understanding of human action and human freedom.
Human freedom arises from the use of artefacts, contructed by our
forebears, in participation in social activity, created by those around
us. No complexity or quantuim indeterminacy is required. J G Fichte
solved this one a long time ago.
Greg Thompson wrote:
I'm doubtful of your premise that brain science will ever get to this
For a literary response along these lines, see Dostoevsky's Crime and
Punishment and Raskolnikov's insistence that man is not a piano-key
and if proven so, he would go crazy just to show otherwise - or was it
Svidragailov that said this?
From a scientific standpoint I think that the potential predictions of
brain science run into a problem of complexity. There are more
potential connections in the brain than there are particles in the
universe. This makes every brain into an incredibly complex organism
and makes prediction unlikely due what Chaos theorists
call the Butterfly Effect:
Chaos theory - a last defense of human freedom?
Or perhaps Quantum Physics?
Frankly, I'm much happier with the 19th century Russian writer's response.
Hate to be the /raskol/ to the neuroscience craze.
On Wed, Jul 24, 2013 at 9:59 AM, Andy Blunden <email@example.com
I would like to suggest a thought experiment.
Suppose that neuroscience had progressed to a point where every
psychological phenomenon has been traced to a specific formation
in the brain. (This is of course very far from the case. Even
dramatic psychological disorders are often invisible to
neuroscience, but just suppose. ....)
It could help faciitate new pharamceutical and surgical cures for
So instead of better teaching, we could administer drugs to
children so they learn faster, or something??
It is only surgical and pharmceutical interventions that require
neuroscientific knowledge. Oherwise, stories about the brain just
function as rationalisations, for doing things which can be
explained and tested without reference to the brain,