More on Churchland.2

John McCreery (JLM@TWICS.COM)
Wed, 20 Sep 1995 10:47:06 +0900

Matt Tomaso writes,

"Since many of the ideas John discusses from Churchland seem at least similar
to structuralist interpretations (I' not sure if this is Churchland's
underlying method or John's way of discussing her/his views), let me have a
go at what I think we might be getting at (at best) here:

Perhaps a deep structure for mathematic reasoning (sort of hinted at in much
of Levi-Strauss)?

Just to be silly, postmodern, and provocative - perhaps this will allow us
to develop neostructuralism as a way of incorporating multivocality through
matrix algebra replacing binary oppositions! Have fun with this one, folks...

First, kudos to Matt for pointing out the structuralist strain in my
representation of Churchland. That's probably more me than her. My
account is a highly selective one that reflects my own interests in
epistemology and history of science and selectively repressed vast
chunks of neuroanatomy and neurophysiology, right down to the level of
the chemistry of nerve impulses (at last I understand why potassium is
important in my diet.:-)) Be warned, unlike Levi-Strauss, the lady
in question is at least as deeply involved in the wetware as she
is philosopical theories of mind. Her ability to connect the two is
what makes her so interesting.

As for "neostructuralism"--why not? Sounds like fun. For me the
problem will be having to learn tensor calculus and how it's
implemented in computers. We're talking about models whole orders of
magnitude more complex than Levi-Strauss's "savage ruminations."

I will note in passing that Churchland asserts that tensors subsume
sentential logic, while the latter alone does a lousy job with
protypes, pattern recognition, etc. When I ask myself why this
seems plausible to me, I recall writing if-then statements in
APL, a computer language specifically designed for matrix operations...
then memory blurs.


John McCreery