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Wil Franklin's picture

Why does the box metaphor stop at neurons?

Why does the box metaphor stop at neurons? What breaks down at smaller scales. The next level of reduction is molecules or perhaps groups of molecules, then molecules, then atoms. What about groups of molecules make the metaphor less useful?

The components of the Box metaphor:

  • inputs
  • outputs
  • smaller working components
  • boundary

Let's look at groups of molecules. They don't have clear boundaries, which makes everything else hard to define. So,

Let's look at molecules. They have boundaries, but again fuzzy depending on the scale. They have other working parts = atoms. Molecules have inputs? Yes, electrons and other energy forms like photons and gamma rays etc. Do molecules have outputs? Can molecules self-generate outputs? Or do molecular outputs always rely on inputs? They sometimes give off forms of energy? Energy is a causal force that all matter interacts with.

Or, is this line of thought not very useful? Why? Again, why is the box metaphor not useful at smaller levels below the cell?




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