Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The physicists deserve some credit too...

1. Much of the philosophical work that may have anything to do with cognitive science is not exactly recent, but quite age-old. Christof Koch, one of the leading cognitive scientists of the day says that we 'see with our brains', implying that perception is not simply explicable by the optics of the situation, but involves substantial neural computation. Immanuel Kant in the 1700s took such a stand (though not on anatomical grounds) that perception involves subjective inner states and said ""It remains completely unknown to us what objects may be by themselves and apart from the receptivity of our senses. We know nothing but our manner or perceiving them; that manner being peculiar to us, and not necessarily shared by every being, though, no doubt, by every human being"

We may say that there is no recent, fresh, contemporary input from philosophy that especially drives neuroscience today. It is just that some findings happen to correspond to the speculations of classical philosophers.

2. The credit for systematizing the field is deserved by physicists more than philosophers. Without the work of Helmholtz and other early founders of psychophysics, many of the experimental paradigms which are still the mainstay of cognitive science, might never have been developed.

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