Neural Specificity: Fifty Years of Vagaries

  • Paul A. Weiss


The sampling in the present book, the stream of progress along the “paths of discovery in neurosciences,” is a fitting tribute to Frank Schmitt’s 70th birthday. It will serve as a reminder of how many notable tributaries he has added to that stream by his spirit, vision, and hardy work. But, from a broader perspective, no date can be more than arbitrary for taking stock of the progress made up to that point by a process such as the advancement of human knowledge. In the same sense discovery is more than sheer disclosure, as in spotting a wellspring in a mountain meadow and then letting it seep into the ground: it calls for grooving a bed that will allow the new source to become confluent with, or even divert, the older course of the mainstream. In our present context, discovery then ceases to be an isolated event; it appears as just a conspicuous marker for a major contribution to the continuous stream of man’s growth of knowledge. And because knowledge cannot be equated with a sheer pile of amassed items of information (Weiss, 1971a: Chapter 9), its growth can not be measured in terms of bulk production, like mining ore without going on to process it, but can be assessed only by its success in furthering rational understanding of nature. Without entailing such progress, discovery remains stale. Therefore, in rating “paths of discovery,” we must not just look at the act; we must trail each path, if possible, from its source through its sequential effects.


Motor Neuron Nerve Regeneration Neural Specificity Individual Muscle Nerve Supply 
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© Birkhäuser Boston 1992

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  • Paul A. Weiss

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