[Comp-neuro] Re: Attractors, variability and noise

Brad Wyble bwyble at gmail.com
Wed Aug 13 16:05:58 CEST 2008

On Tue, Aug 12, 2008 at 12:55 PM, Ali Minai <minai_ali at yahoo.com> wrote:

> When we go looking for the "meaning" of attractors, or - even more
> problematically - identity of meaning across attractors, aren't we back to
> the homunculus or dualism? Shouldn't all "meaning" ultimately be grounded in
> physiological response (sensor activity, behavior, autonomic activity,
> biochemical activity, etc.) and all else regarded as post-hoc constructs
> that we use for descriptive convenience? Or do people think that "appleness"
> exists independently of "applehood" - if you know what I mean? :-).
> Ali
Behaviorism reborn?

Remember that we are trying to describe these systems in terms that we as
humans can understand.  So that 'descriptive convenience' is really what
science is looking for.    We are not cognitively equipped to understand the
brain in terms of input/output relationships, or big tables of
neurophysiological data.   The Tyranny of ideas exists precisely because we
think with ideas.

I suspect that an ultimate understanding of the brain is going to consist of
a hierarchy of ideas about how individual subsystems work because that's how
scientists communicate across levels of description.

Models are important both for shaping those ideas and anchoring them
formally, but ultimately the scientific process depends on the communication
of theories from one mind to another.

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