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Paul Grobstein's picture

Brain as constructor and its implications?

Interesting conversation.  Thanks all.  Lots of bits and pieces to follow up on in various ways, in further conversations and elsewhere.

I too am curious about what would happen in the blindspot case if one used multicolored dots, spatially patterned in various ways and spatially unpatterned.  That's a pretty easily doable experiment, maybe we'll do it as an extension to the Serendip blind spot exhibit.  I'd also be interested in finding out what cultural differences there might be in filling in the blindspot in the case of more complex image arrays.  And to what extent that depends on experience.

I"m intrigued more generally by the movement toward replacing an understanding of "objectivity" as "what is out there" with "what works in our context" and "what we can agree works in a shared context," with the notion of "objectivity" not as distinct from "subjectivity" but rather as objectivity fundamentally rooted in subjectivity (see The objectivity/subjectivity spectrum: having one's cake and eating it too).   And found useful the Descartes connection.  Yes, Descartes recognized that empirical observations were not a route to "Truth," and it was partly for that reason that he separated things into material and spiritual with the latter having access to "Truth."

Is this all "words," all "philosophy"?  Or does it have actually have practical implications for us as scienitists, as humans?  That the conversation originated in scientific observations seems to me relevant but I'm not sure we succeeded in grappling successfully with the practical implications issue.  No problem, it remains on the table to think about.  And I suspect it will come up again in the semester as we talk about the array of topics on our schedule.

For anyone interested, a discussion among faculty triggered from more or less the same starting point is documented at Working without mirrors, glassy essences, or indubitability.   

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