From: Scott Chase (email@example.com)
Date: Tue 03 May 2005 - 23:31:25 GMT
I've been starting into Joseph LeDoux's _Synaptic
Self_ which is so far an invigorating read, since he
seems to know what he's talking about (cough, cough)
and I hope to soon be able to compare his view of "the
synaptic self" with that of Blackmore's "selfplex"
(akin to one of those memome thingies Juan Delius talks about) and Anthony Stevens's archetypal viewpoint of "the self".
There's a point in LeDoux's book where he asks "Are
synapses enough?" which seems to rely implicitly upon
the necessary versus sufficient causation dichotomy.
He's not too explicit in his answer, maybe he unravels
it during the book, but it seems he implies that
synapses are necessary for "the self" but in pointing
to other factors, perhaps not sufficient...
He gives Gould's exaptation concept fair treatment
when discussing ev psych and recommends Rose and
Rose's _Alas Poor Darwin_. BTW in his new book _The
Future of the Brain_ curmudgeony Steve Rose says that
the nematode *C. elegans* has a nervous system of
exactly 302 cells. I'm pretty sure he's knowledgable
on the topic prominent neuroscientist that he is.
That makes me wonder again where Aunger was going with
the aside about the "32 hard-wired neurons of the sea
slug", especially given how he confused the generic
name *Aplysia* with the common general name "nematode"
earlier. Could he have dropped the zero between the
three and two of the nematode's neural endowment (302)
and misattributed it to the sea slug or are there a
specific set of 32 *Aplysia* neurons (out of around
20,000 total) he's talking about? Nematodes are less
neurally endowed, it would seem, than sea slugs
anyway. Thus, could we assume the sea slug would stand
a better chance of having a neuromeme slithering
through its synapses than the nematode?
I think I commented on the notion of anamnesis earlier
with regard to what Aunger had said about evoked
culture early in his book. Well LeDoux had me thinking
about the same thing when he talks about the hardcore
selectionist versus instructionist debate where
someone named Niels Jerne (LeDoux, page 73) said that
"learning consists of being reminded of what is already in the brain." Is that anamnesis or what? Add the quasi-biblical fall from EEA grace when we started doing maladaptive stuff like studying books instead of procreating and using contraception and we've got a semblance of ev psych gone haywire :-)
Since I agree with Aunger on the 'transmission
happens' argument for culture, I think this nativism
in extremo is going way too far. Yes there's some
innateness to learning, but the nativists seem to be
taking things to extremes. I subscibe to the
Etch-A-Sketch theory that genes provided us with
architectures (or Etch-a-Sketch modular thingies), but
these are written upon by experience. The slates
aren't totally blank (but perhaps Pinker doth protest
the SSSM too much). Perhaps cultural transmission is
when you use someone elses "Etch-A-Sketch" as a model
for what you will draw upon your own. Anyone having
tried drawing on one of these contraptions knows how
you're constrained by the way the dials work (IIRC one
goes vertical the other horizontal). The analogy is
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