A Strange Use of Pollock

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Submitted by seddon on Wed, 2013-02-20 16:30

In a power point presentation, Kenneth F. Schaffner, a colleague of mine at the Center for the Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh, argued against the “blank slate” theory of the human brain. I reprint here his last three slides, ##73-75. [NB. For some reason (probably my incompetence) I was unable to reproduce the Pollock in Ken’s presentation. So I have include a web address where the interested Soloist can see the painting. Actually I think any Pollock will do.] Enjoy.

• The slate is not blank,
• But at the end of our discussion on the quantitative genetics conception of environment it seemed ‘white’
• In the sense of full of “white noise”
• But this is probably too gloomy a view, though it counsels patience, and perhaps the need for a major stimulus package for the behavioral and psychiatric geneticists (and neuroscientists),
• In order to make sense of all this complexity: they have a lot of work still to do
• Because what they really seem to be confronting on the slate is what we see on the next slide 


Art appreciation?
• That Pollock painting is reminiscent of how our brains might look under a microscope
• But what else would you expect from an organ with ten billion neurons and an estimate ten trillion synapses that is responsible for our behavior?

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