Philosophical Anthropology and Practical Politics

By F. S. C. Northrop | Go to book overview

3
The Neurological Epistemic Correlates of Introspected Ideas

Two recent scientific developments have necessitated a revision of the traditional modern conception of the relation between introspectively known ideas and human behavior in the public world of mathematically designated, indirectly verified space-time. These two developments are: (1) Dr. Warren S. McCulloch and Walter Pitts' indirectly confirmed theory of neurologically "trapped universals." (2) Arturo Rosenblueth, Norbert Wiener and Julian Bigelow's distinction between non-teleological and teleological mechanisms, together with the demonstration that all human nervous systems are mechanisms of the latter type.

If the import of these discoveries is to be appreciated, two historical facts must be kept in mind. First, they passed through the most exacting analyses by experimental and theoretical natural and social scientists from a score of different sciences over a period of some fifteen years in a series of annual conferences called by Dr. Frank Fremont-Smith of the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation and presided over by Dr. McCulloch. Second, before McCulloch coined the expression "trapped universals," he was well aware, as the sequel will show, of three things: (i) The writer's distinction, described in the previous chapter, between any word in its concept by intuition radically empirical epistemological meaning and that same word in its image- less, formally constructed concept by postulation logically realistic epistemological meaning. (ii) The relation between what is denoted by the concept by intuition meaning of any word and what is desig

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