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  1. #1
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    Reductionism and the Brain sciences

    These reductionist sciences - psychology, neuropsychology, psychiatry, are necessarily uniniformative about the range, meaning, and extent of human experience. A reductionist discipline describes one system in terms of another, unrelated system by mapping their elements. Here, mind is described physically, but-

    There is no epistemological exchange between the elements of systems participating in a reduction.


    Another example. A reductionist take on the game of chess would say that a game was dependent, like mind is dependent on matter, on the weights of the pieces, the size of the board, and the squares that they move across. A reductionist claim would be, for example, that the King's weight and shape was obviously key to the game because if these were absent or indiscernible then the game could not be played, or would be lost. Interventions for losing players could be made by cutting out squares, putting new ones in, or camouflaging the pieces.

    Psychology and the brain sciences severely limit our knowledge of experience because human experience identifies the physical and technical objects (objects such as chemical imbalance, frontal cortex, etc) described by these disciplines, yet descriptions of human experience are always fixed or cast in the morals of the age.

    This is why psychology and the brain sciences, as reductionist systems, must be rejected, completely. Their judgements are necessarily optional social stances. Instead, we can find knowledge of human experience by turning to a non-reductionist anthropology and its knowledge of mind-enhancing techniques found in various cultures; also we find modern non-medical techniques such as LSD "psychotherapy" (e.g. Stan Grof), rebirthing, holotropic breathwork, etc.

    But first of all we need to de-pathologise those human experiences that have been captured by our restrictive, reductionist, and epistemologically disastrous, medical model.
    Last edited by John Jones; December 21st, 2011 at 12:57 PM.

  2. #2
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    Re: Reductionism and the Brain sciences

    Lets group these sciences into Cognitive Science. The assumption of Cognitive Science is that the mind is caused by physical things, things that are real and that we can touch, manipulate and learn about. If this is not the case, if we take a Duelist approach to the mind then we cannot study the mind. We cannot study the immaterial. Cognitive Science may not be perfect, but it is the best tool we have for understanding the mind. BTW Cognitive Science has made some awesome advances in understanding the mind. If you are interested, I suggest looking up connectionism and artificial neural networks.
    abc

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    Re: Reductionism and the Brain sciences

    Quote Originally Posted by MyXenocide View Post
    Lets group these sciences into Cognitive Science. The assumption of Cognitive Science is that the mind is caused by physical things, things that are real and that we can touch, manipulate and learn about. If this is not the case, if we take a Duelist approach to the mind then we cannot study the mind. We cannot study the immaterial. Cognitive Science may not be perfect, but it is the best tool we have for understanding the mind. BTW Cognitive Science has made some awesome advances in understanding the mind. If you are interested, I suggest looking up connectionism and artificial neural networks.
    There has been no new knowledge about human experience from any reductionist psychology, including cognitive science. All are informatively vacuous where they rest on reductionism.

    It is hard for we moderns to see this, as the circularity of their claims is underplayed.

  4. #4
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    Re: Reductionism and the Brain sciences

    Quote Originally Posted by John Jones View Post
    There has been no new knowledge about human experience from any reductionist psychology, including cognitive science. All are informatively vacuous where they rest on reductionism.

    It is hard for we moderns to see this, as the circularity of their claims is underplayed.
    Well that is simply not true. All science is reductionist. It is this digging into the detail of how something works where we find new answers. When we reduced the atom to smaller parts of matter, we learned a great deal. When Cognitive Science reduced cognition to information processing we where able to create neural networks to model cognitive processes from which we are learning a great deal.

    Besides for you to make a claim like "no new knowledge about human experience from any reductionist psychology, including cognitive science" you not only show your ignorance of what cognitive science is but you also would have to be aware of all psychological research going on, which you are not.
    abc

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    Re: Reductionism and the Brain sciences

    Quote Originally Posted by John Jones View Post
    There has been no new knowledge about human experience from any reductionist psychology, including cognitive science. All are informatively vacuous where they rest on reductionism.

    It is hard for we moderns to see this, as the circularity of their claims is underplayed.
    Then explain why we are able to make deaf people hear again (because of a "cognitive neuron problem") if it wasn't from cognitive science.

  6. #6
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    Re: Reductionism and the Brain sciences

    Quote Originally Posted by MyXenocide View Post
    Well that is simply not true. All science is reductionist. It is this digging into the detail of how something works where we find new answers. When we reduced the atom to smaller parts of matter, we learned a great deal. When Cognitive Science reduced cognition to information processing we where able to create neural networks to model cognitive processes from which we are learning a great deal.

    Besides for you to make a claim like "no new knowledge about human experience from any reductionist psychology, including cognitive science" you not only show your ignorance of what cognitive science is but you also would have to be aware of all psychological research going on, which you are not.
    No knowledge can be obtained from two systems involved in a reductionism. The two systems 'evolve' independently.

    So psychology, for example, has limited our knowledge of human experience because its technical arm is referenced by a human experience that remains fixed in a centuries-old judeo-christian morality.

    Knowledge of human experience is not an "advance".

    There are no examples of widening the knowledge of human experience by our illness-based reductionist model of the Clinic.

    ---------- Post added at 10:17 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:10 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Soren View Post
    Then explain why we are able to make deaf people hear again (because of a "cognitive neuron problem") if it wasn't from cognitive science.

    Again, the technical arm is informed by the experiential arm (hearing identifies a ear and a brain). Technical arms of reductionist disciplines evolve, if you like, but the experiential arm does not.

  7. #7
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    Re: Reductionism and the Brain sciences

    Quote Originally Posted by John Jones View Post
    Again, the technical arm is informed by the experiential arm (hearing identifies a ear and a brain). Technical arms of reductionist disciplines 'evolve', if you like, but the experiential arm does not.
    LOL!!! That is impossible. The technical arm of a science cannot evolve without the experimental arm. The technical arm is based on the experimental arm. The experiment comes first and then the knowledge is applied to improve our lives.
    abc

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    Re: Reductionism and the Brain sciences

    Quote Originally Posted by John Jones View Post

    There are no examples of widening the knowledge of human experience by our illness-based reductionist model of the Clinic.
    So now the claim is "(cognitive science hasn't) widening knowledge of human experience" instead of (ALL brain cognitive sciences) must be rejected completely?

    Well then, LSD was made as a drug because brain science was beginning to be understood - and you claim that this has widened our knowledge in your OP. So you provided yourself an example.

  9. #9
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    Re: Reductionism and the Brain sciences

    Quote Originally Posted by Soren View Post
    So now the claim is "(cognitive science hasn't) widening knowledge of human experience" instead of (ALL brain cognitive sciences) must be rejected completely?

    Well then, LSD was made as a drug because brain science was beginning to be understood - and you claim that this has widened our knowledge in your OP. So you provided yourself an example.

    ... you misunderstood the point. It is the culture and our continued awareness and descriptions of human experience in a variety of situations that can WIDEN our knowledge of human experience.

    Whereas, psychology does not bring us ANY knowledge of human experience.

    LSD exploration was not premised on the brain sciences. THere was a huge expansion of knowledge of experience during its day. We have now taken many steps back.

    ---------- Post added at 10:34 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:30 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by MyXenocide View Post
    LOL!!! That is impossible. The technical arm of a science cannot evolve without the experimental arm. The technical arm is based on the experimental arm. The experiment comes first and then the knowledge is applied to improve our lives.

    The technical arm is "informed" by the experiential arm. It is entirely our current social stance on the emotions that dictate what brain studies and objects are constructed, and which are claimed to be structural disorders or chemical imbalances.

  10. #10
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    Re: Reductionism and the Brain sciences

    I think your paradigm is equally as misguided as the one you attack.

    Brain science and psychology have both demonstrated admirable results when the knowledge learned is applied to people's problems. They are yet young and have lots to learn and lots but even as of yet they have brought success at achieving human aims.

    So have more holistic approaches to mental health and wellness.

    I think each track has to realize its own weaknesses. The scientific approach which is reductionist can well demonstrate a causal relationship between things, but may well miss the vastly interconnected complexity of it, mandating a directed solution for a not so directed problem.

    The more intuitive holistic approaches often fail when they come to the conclusion they are founded psudo-science and come up with causal metaphysical explanations for their effect which they have neither truly investigated or supported. This leads to gross misapplication due to a blind faith in their efficacy.

    Why prescribe a raft of interacting drugs to make someone happy when what they really need is some love and attention from other human beings? Why prescribe someone to drink cow urine to cure their gout which you call an imbalance of their karmic flow when in fact we know gout is caused by too much uric acid in the blood.
    Feed me some debate pellets!

  11. #11
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    Re: Reductionism and the Brain sciences

    Quote Originally Posted by MyXenocide View Post
    LOL!!! That is impossible. The technical arm of a science cannot evolve without the experimental arm. The technical arm is based on the experimental arm. The experiment comes first and then the knowledge is applied to improve our lives.
    It was "experiential", not "experimental". He's got a good point. Science must use the experiential aspect of being human to describe and define being human. It's sort of like using the instrument you're interested in learning about to learn about it.

    His other point is well taken too, if I'm understanding it properly. On duelism, only part of the "mind" (that part that consists in physical brain states) is available for scientific study. Where his point weakens considerably in my view is blaming this inadequacy on reductionism when it may more properly be located in the naturalism that currently ground most of science.

    ---------- Post added at 03:16 PM ---------- Previous post was at 03:12 PM ----------

    Sig, if someone is going to drink cow urine, they've got bigger problems than gout! One of them is drinking cow urine.

  12. #12
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    Re: Reductionism and the Brain sciences

    Quote Originally Posted by cstamford View Post
    It was "experiential", not "experimental". He's got a good point. Science must use the experiential aspect of being human to describe and define being human. It's sort of like using the instrument you're interested in learning about to learn about it.
    I misread that, thanks.

    His other point is well taken too, if I'm understanding it properly. On duelism, only part of the "mind" (that part that consists in physical brain states) is available for scientific study.
    The physical part is the entirety of the mind. Anything outside of the material world cannot be studied and thus such a theory is entirely useless.
    abc

  13. #13
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    Re: Reductionism and the Brain sciences

    Quote Originally Posted by MyXenocide View Post
    I misread that, thanks.



    The physical part is the entirety of the mind.
    That's a metaphysical assumption on your part, not a conclusion reached via the scientific method.

    Anything outside of the material world cannot be studied and thus such a theory is entirely useless.
    This is another metaphysical assumption on your part, and again, is not a conclusion reached via the scientific method.

    I'm glad I can tell the difference between "science" and "metaphysics".

  14. #14
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    Re: Reductionism and the Brain sciences

    Quote Originally Posted by cstamford View Post
    That's a metaphysical assumption on your part, not a conclusion reached via the scientific method.
    I never said it was a conclusion of science. It is one of the base assumptions of Cognitive Science.

    This is another metaphysical assumption on your part, and again, is not a conclusion reached via the scientific method.
    True, but I'm still right. How can you study something that is non-material? Can material things detect the non-material? Isn't the non-material only existent outside of the universe? Saying something is non-material is just not helpful in any way. It is like saying just give up trying to understand that because you never will succeed. Well if we don't try we are guaranteed to fail but if we try we at least have a chance.

    I'm glad I can tell the difference between "science" and "metaphysics".
    I'm glad you have that ability.
    abc

  15. #15
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    Re: Reductionism and the Brain sciences

    There has always been a rebellious anti-reductionist strain in any field of Science. If you talk to anyone in a biological field, whether neuroscience to molecular biology, there is an understanding and a desire to apply a holistic approach. We understand that living organisms are systems and that to truly understand them one must view the system as a whole.

    The problem with a holistic approach is that the parts just aren't there. Trying to understand the brain from a holistic approach without also using a reductionist approach is like trying to reverse engineer a car without ever looking under the hood. Its like somebody claiming they understand how a computer works without knowing what a hard drive or a CPU is.

    How can you seriously claim to understand addiction without knowing how a drug affects dopamine levels? How can you claim to understand memory when you have no idea how it is stored in the first place? In order for a holistic understanding of the Brain to make any sense it must be accompanied by an understanding of the parts and mechanisms that operate underneath it all.

    This idea that it is an either/or situation; either reductionalism or holistic is a false dichotomy. They are complementary approaches, but before holistic understanding can be applied in any meaningful sense one must first obtain sufficient knowledge at the reductionalist end.

    Now, these other approaches you advocate, such as LSD psychotherapy, complete pseudoscientific nonsense advocated by quacks and that is all that needs to be said regarding them.

  16. #16
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    Re: Reductionism and the Brain sciences

    Quote Originally Posted by MyXenocide View Post
    I never said it was a conclusion of science. It is one of the base assumptions of Cognitive Science.
    Then to be fair, you never said it was an assumption at all, from cognitive science or any other discipline. I'm pretty good at English, and your statement sounded a lot like a statement of fact to me. I'm glad we agree that it's a metaphysical assumption tacked onto cognitive science, rather than necessary to it.

    True, but I'm still right. How can you study something that is non-material? Can material things detect the non-material? Isn't the non-material only existent outside of the universe? Saying something is non-material is just not helpful in any way. It is like saying just give up trying to understand that because you never will succeed. Well if we don't try we are guaranteed to fail but if we try we at least have a chance.
    Straight out of the scientism playbook. Let's take the first couple of rhetorical questions above and really look at them:
    How can you study something that is non-material?
    I don't know how, but it doesn't seem to be a problem for physicists. The quantum vacuum isn't physical. In fact most quantum physicists treat it as "nothing", which is how they get rid of "causality" in quantum events. In chasing the TOE they're also studying string theory where to my very casual understanding strings aren't material objects either. Gravitational fields are seen as 3-D distortions of empty space. Mind you, "empty space" on general relativity isn't the few atoms and photons per cubic meter that are being distorted. It's the non-material "substance" of the "spacetime" continuum that's being distorted.
    "Can material things detect the non-material?"
    Seems so. The principle is as old as science itself. The visible effect is studied to discover the invisible cause. The discovery of the unseen cause need not involve the detection of a material object as cause. The immaterial is detected and studied by its effect on the material.

    Now no one is saying the first thing you should do in looking for an invisible (to you) cause for a visible effect in the world is point to the fact it's invisible, lock up the lab, and go to church. The notion that's what anyone is hinting at is a piece of propagandistic nonsense used as a substitute for the compelling arguments for naturalism in science that don't exist. It's also selectively applied propagandistic noonsense. Nobody is applying it to quantum physicists, for example, or relativity theorists, or Higgs boson hunters. It's only trotted out when someone has the audacity to point out the fact naturalism is the metaphysical parasite in the bowels of the modern scientific engine of discovery.

    I'm glad you have that ability.
    Me too! Know what else I can do? I can keep from getting them mixed up in my head, so that I don't end up giving a metaphysical position the credit for what sscientific host does!

  17. #17
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    Re: Reductionism and the Brain sciences

    Quote Originally Posted by chadn737 View Post
    This idea that it is an either/or situation; either reductionalism or holistic is a false dichotomy. They are complementary approaches, but before holistic understanding can be applied in any meaningful sense one must first obtain sufficient knowledge at the reductionalist end.
    I'm not completely there and I think on reflection you will agree under some conditions.

    There are a number of problems the human mind is good at intuitively grasping without aware understanding of the underlying mechanics. Throwing a ball for instance. The exact mechanics are daunting and the variations one must cope with on range and weight and wind etc... are pretty heady. Yet the brain is great at making a really good guess and through some repetition honing in on a very strong answer to the challenge. Same with balance and human movement.

    In medicine, there are some "traditional" practices developed by intuition and by trial and error that have very beneficial outcomes. Certain practices of sanitation were observed long before actual pathogens were understood and some herbal medicine we now understand to be quite potent for what it was used to accomplish. When an mis-understood but effective technique is available and an understood but shaky approach is available, I'll take the non-sense explanation with the positive outcome when my health is on the line.

    I think this kind of situation happens less and less all the time, but there are still cases where I find the "alternative view" compelling on some level and the official view suspect for its own assumptions. The area I find this most suspect currently is diet. The current "official" opinions don't seem to be on quite the right track and appear tainted by commercial interests. Not to say all the alternative views look smart, many of them are bugnutz crazy. But here and there the challenges they make look pretty good even after I try to dig in and take them apart with skeptical inquiry.

    And where the best answer (for health) lies at the moment is a very common sense holistic approach; eat food more like what a hunter gatherer would eat but washed appropriately to avoid dangerous pathogens. Not that I've done much to do so, I enjoy my fancy cooking and sweets. But for my observation it tends to beat out any menu designed by a reductionist approach to nutrition.
    Feed me some debate pellets!

  18. #18
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    Re: Reductionism and the Brain sciences

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    I think your paradigm is equally as misguided as the one you attack.

    Brain science and psychology have both demonstrated admirable results when the knowledge learned is applied to people's problems. They are yet young and have lots to learn and lots but even as of yet they have brought success at achieving human aims.

    So have more holistic approaches to mental health and wellness.

    I think each track has to realize its own weaknesses. The scientific approach which is reductionist can well demonstrate a causal relationship between things, but may well miss the vastly interconnected complexity of it, mandating a directed solution for a not so directed problem.

    The more intuitive holistic approaches often fail when they come to the conclusion they are founded psudo-science and come up with causal metaphysical explanations for their effect which they have neither truly investigated or supported. This leads to gross misapplication due to a blind faith in their efficacy.

    Why prescribe a raft of interacting drugs to make someone happy when what they really need is some love and attention from other human beings? Why prescribe someone to drink cow urine to cure their gout which you call an imbalance of their karmic flow when in fact we know gout is caused by too much uric acid in the blood.
    Anthroplogists recognise that the first step to discovery is not the deconstruction of another tradition or culture but the deconstruction of one's own.
    - So with that in mind, I would suggest that you deconstruct or examine the ideas you take for granted and judge by, ideas like mental health and karmic flow.

    The reductionist sciences don't have weaknesses. They are necessarily uninformative, not partly so.

    ---------- Post added at 09:59 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:48 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by chadn737 View Post
    We understand that living organisms are systems and that to truly understand them one must view the system as a whole.

    The problem with a holistic approach is that the parts just aren't there.

    How can you seriously claim to understand addiction without knowing how a drug affects dopamine levels?

    This idea that it is an either/or situation; either reductionalism or holistic is a false dichotomy.
    My argument is much more powerful than is suggested by that. I was arguing that a reductionist system cannot, necessarily cannot, have an informational exchange between its systems.

    In particular you made an error regarding the relationship of the part to the whole, reductionist and holistic. A whole identifies its parts. Without the whole, without the identifying framework of emotions or experience a brain and its "parts" cannot be identified. The reductionist sciences are parasitic on systems, prescriptive, not instructive.

 

 

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