28
Oct
08

Churchland’s Neurophilosophy

Patricia Churchland

Neurophilosophy: Toward a Unified Science of the Mind-Brain

Area: Digital Media

·        Is it possible to have one grand, unified theory of the mind-brain?

·        Reevaluation of the significance of neuroscientific and psychological findings for philosophical research

·        Work in computer-science and computer modeling of networks has helped to generate concepts of information processing representation and computation that take us well beyond the earlier ideas and provide questions and answers of subintrospective mind-brain processes

·        No large-scale theory of brain function

o       Doesn’t mean there are no theories, just no Governing Paradigm in the Kuhnian sense

·        Intertheoretic reduction, representation, computation, and processes

368-373: Co-evolution of Research on Memory and Learning

·        Memory is at least as bad as a virtual governor

o       “The entire system functions, from an input/output point of view, as a single generator with a greatly increased frequency reliability, or, as control engineers express it, with a single, more powerful, ‘virtual governor’” (355).

·        H.M.=problem of control

o       Can initiate and successfully complete an extended intellectually demanding task even though he has no awareness that he has the knowledge or that he’s executing his knowledge on the task at hand.

·        H.M. has moved some neuropsychologists to postulate two memory systems

o       Descriptive memory: capacity to verbally report recollections

o       Procedural memory: capacity to exhibit a learned skill

3: “The sustaining conviction of this book is that top-down strategies (as characteristic of philosophy, cognitive psychology, and artificial intelligence research) and bottom-up strategies (as characteristic of the neurosciences) for solving the mysteries of mind=brain function should not be pursued in icy isolation from one another.  What is envisaged instead is a rich interanimation between the two, which can be expected to provoke a fruitful co-evolution of theories, models, and methods, where each informs, corrects, and inspires others.”

5: “For one think, neuroscience has progressed to the point where we can begin to theorize productively about basic principles of whole brain function and hence to address the questions concerning how the brain represents, learns, and produces behavior.  Second, many philosophers have moved away from the view that philosophy is an a priori discipline in which philosophers can discover a priori principles that neuroscientific theories had better honor on peril of being found wrong.”

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