, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 45–57 | Cite as

Introduction to the epistemology of the brain: Indeterminacy, micro-specificity, chaos, and openness

  • Jeffrey Foss


Given that the mind is the brain, as materialists insist, those who would understand the mind must understand the brain. Assuming that arrays of neural firing frequencies are highly salient aspects of brain information processing (the vector functional account), four hurdles to an understanding of the brain are identified and inspected: indeterminacy, micro-specificity, chaos, and openness.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anderson, Per O.: 1987, ‘Properties of hippocampal synapses of importance for integration and memory’, in Edelmanet al. (1987), pp. 403–29.Google Scholar
  2. Churchland, Paul M.: 1989,A Neurocomputational Perspective: The Nature of Mind and the Structure of Science, MIT, Cambridge, Mass.Google Scholar
  3. Donne, John: 1624,Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, London, Ch. XVII.Google Scholar
  4. Edelman, Gerald M., Gall, W. E., and Cowan, W. Maxwell (eds.): 1987,Synaptic Function, John Wiley and Sons, New York.Google Scholar
  5. Fodor, Jerry: 1977,The Language of Thought, Harvester Press, Sussex.Google Scholar
  6. Foss, Jeff: 1988, ‘The precept and vector function theories of the brain’,Philosophy of Science 55, 511–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Harrison, Robert G., and Biswas, Dhruba J.: 1986, ‘Chaos in light’,Nature 321, 394–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hubel, D. H. and Wiesel, T. N.: 1959, ‘Receptive fields of single neurons in the cat's striate cortex’,Journal of Physiology 148, 574–91.Google Scholar
  9. Hubel, D. H. and Wiesel, T. N.: 1979, ‘Brain mechanisms of vision’,Scientific American 241, 150–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Koch, Christof and Poggio, Tomaso: 1987, ‘Biophysics of computation’, in Edelmanet al. (1987), pp. 637–98.Google Scholar
  11. Kuhn, Thomas S.: 1962,The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  12. Laskar, J.: 1989, ‘A numerical experiment on the chaotic behaviour of the solar system’,Nature 338, 237–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Milani, Andrea: 1989, ‘Planetary orbits: emerging stability and chaos’,Nature 338, 207–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Pylyshyn, Zenon: 1984,Computation and Cognition: Toward a Foundation for Cognitive Science, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.Google Scholar
  15. Rall, Wilfred, and Segev, Iden: 1987, ‘Functional possibilities for synapses on dendrites and dendritic spines’, in Edelmanet al. (1987), pp. 605–36.Google Scholar
  16. Rumelhart, David E. and McClelland, James L., with the PDP Research Group: 1986a,Parallel Distributed Processing: Explorations in the Microstructure of Cognition, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.Google Scholar
  17. Rumelhart, David E. and McClelland, James L.: 1986b, ‘On learning the past tenses of English verbs’, in Rumelhart and McClelland (1986a).Google Scholar
  18. Sejnowski, T. and Rosenberg, C.: 1987, ‘Parallel networks that learn to pronounce English’,Complex Systems 1, 145–68.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey Foss
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of VictoriaCanada

Personalised recommendations