Reductionism ad absurdum

Reductionism ad absurdum PurposeNeuroscientists act as proxies for implied anthropomorphic signal-processing beings within the brain, Homunculi. The latter examine the arriving neuronal spike-trains to infer internal and external states. But a Homunculus needs a brain of its own, to coordinate its capabilities – a brain that necessarily contains a Homunculus and so on indefinitely. Such infinity is impossible – and in well-cited papers, Attneave and later Dennett claim to eliminate it. How do their approaches differ and do they (in fact) obviate the Homunculi?Design/methodology/approachThe Attneave and Dennett approaches are carefully scrutinized. To Attneave, Homunculi are effectively “decision-making” neurons that control behaviors. Attneave presumes that Homunculi, when successively nested, become successively “stupider”, limiting their numbers by diminishing their responsibilities. Dennett likewise postulates neuronal Homunculi that become “stupider” – but brain-wards, where greater sophistication might have been expected.FindingsAttneave’s argument is Reductionist and it simply assumes-away the Homuncular infinity. Dennett’s scheme, which evidently derives from Attneave’s, ultimately involves the same mistakes. Attneave and Dennett fail, because they attempt to reduce intentionality to non-intentionality.Research limitations/implicationsHomunculus has been successively recognized over the centuries by philosophers, psychologists and (some) neuroscientists as a crucial conundrum of cognitive science. It still is.Practical implicationsCognitive-science researchers need to recognize that Reductionist explanations of cognition may actually devolve to Homunculi, rather than eliminating them.Originality/valueTwo notable Reductionist arguments against the infinity of Homunculi are proven wrong. In their place, a non-Reductionist treatment of the mind, “Emergence”, is discussed as a means of rendering Homunculi irrelevant. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Kybernetes Emerald Publishing

Reductionism ad absurdum

Kybernetes, Volume 47 (1): 23 – Jan 8, 2018

Loading next page...
 
/lp/emerald-publishing/reductionism-ad-absurdum-mDldo0Exr0
Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
0368-492X
DOI
10.1108/K-10-2016-0266
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

PurposeNeuroscientists act as proxies for implied anthropomorphic signal-processing beings within the brain, Homunculi. The latter examine the arriving neuronal spike-trains to infer internal and external states. But a Homunculus needs a brain of its own, to coordinate its capabilities – a brain that necessarily contains a Homunculus and so on indefinitely. Such infinity is impossible – and in well-cited papers, Attneave and later Dennett claim to eliminate it. How do their approaches differ and do they (in fact) obviate the Homunculi?Design/methodology/approachThe Attneave and Dennett approaches are carefully scrutinized. To Attneave, Homunculi are effectively “decision-making” neurons that control behaviors. Attneave presumes that Homunculi, when successively nested, become successively “stupider”, limiting their numbers by diminishing their responsibilities. Dennett likewise postulates neuronal Homunculi that become “stupider” – but brain-wards, where greater sophistication might have been expected.FindingsAttneave’s argument is Reductionist and it simply assumes-away the Homuncular infinity. Dennett’s scheme, which evidently derives from Attneave’s, ultimately involves the same mistakes. Attneave and Dennett fail, because they attempt to reduce intentionality to non-intentionality.Research limitations/implicationsHomunculus has been successively recognized over the centuries by philosophers, psychologists and (some) neuroscientists as a crucial conundrum of cognitive science. It still is.Practical implicationsCognitive-science researchers need to recognize that Reductionist explanations of cognition may actually devolve to Homunculi, rather than eliminating them.Originality/valueTwo notable Reductionist arguments against the infinity of Homunculi are proven wrong. In their place, a non-Reductionist treatment of the mind, “Emergence”, is discussed as a means of rendering Homunculi irrelevant.

Journal

KybernetesEmerald Publishing

Published: Jan 8, 2018

There are no references for this article.

You’re reading a free preview. Subscribe to read the entire article.


DeepDyve is your
personal research library

It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.

Enjoy affordable access to
over 18 million articles from more than
15,000 peer-reviewed journals.

All for just $49/month

Explore the DeepDyve Library

Search

Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly

Organize

Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.

Access

Get unlimited, online access to over 18 million full-text articles from more than 15,000 scientific journals.

Your journals are on DeepDyve

Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.

All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.

See the journals in your area

DeepDyve

Freelancer

DeepDyve

Pro

Price

FREE

$49/month
$360/year

Save searches from
Google Scholar,
PubMed

Create folders to
organize your research

Export folders, citations

Read DeepDyve articles

Abstract access only

Unlimited access to over
18 million full-text articles

Print

20 pages / month

PDF Discount

20% off