Saturday, May 24, 2008

Es gibt (It gives / There is) a question of innateness as moot

[from the final pages of The Fundamentals of Brain Development: integrating nature and nurture, Joan Stiles, Harvard UP 2008]

“The view of brain development presented here is dynamic, interactive, and adaptive. Complex signaling cascades [of produced cellular-environmental proteins] direct the formation and fate of cell populations, specify the migratory pathways and final destinations of new neurons, direct the formation of connections, and even signal cell death [e.g., for neural net pruning] in targeted populations [having overexuberant neuronal genesis]. The developmental process can adjust to contingencies and even to direct insult [i.e., injury] to brain structure. Yet there does not appear to be a blueprint, an executive, or even a homunculus [So it goes, Terence Deacon] directing the continuous changes in the complex array of elements, systems, and processes that emerge, expand, change, and sometimes just disappear across [a] period of development... [379].

Sunday, February 24, 2008


This is one among many concepts I’ve been anticipating in recent years. This posting will be expanded beyond this brief note. Presently, it serves as a footnote for ¶1.2 of “enlanguaging mind.”

Cellular signal transduction is the primal form of biological “communication”. Terrence Deacon develops this kind of interest into a biosemiosis of hierarchic emergence (chapter 14 there) in neurocognition. But a Derridean prioritization of the “glyph” (or trope-ical trace) in linguistic expression may be interestingly mapped back into biosemiosis of cognitivity for a usefully “grammatological” reading of mentality.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Habermas and the question of “Being”

I really want to stop making notes about my old interest in the relationship between Habermasian philosophy and Heideggerian thinking. But I’m the one who recently brought it up again, via the Yahoo! Habermas group, so I feel a responsibility to reply to replies to me. So, I replied to Matt, rather dismissively, I realize.

The following was deleted from that posting to the Habermas list:

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

indigestion caused by scientific beauty

You think you've got problems of understanding, maybe. Poor astrophysics: "Big Brain Theory: Have Cosmologists Lost Theirs?," by Dennis Overbye, NY Times, Jan. 15, 2008.

The article at least dramatizes an absurdity of rendering mathematical physics in ordinary terms, but also suggests the ultimate reality of mind in "nature": Facing the edge of our capability. (Theoretical physicist Lee Smolin surmises that we haven't evolved far enough to create a mathematics adequate for decidability in quantum cosmology: The Trouble with Physics, 2006.)

The notion of multiple universes (the Multiverse) seems to be a way of expressing a regionality of physics (a "universe") in The Universe, i.e., in the Multiverse that yields Big Bangs and infinitely variable kinds of physicality. Most universes (the speculation goes) don't have a physicality that leads to stars, thus possibly to conditions for a biology that can become intelligent, then maybe (in at least our case) allowing for evolution of cosmomathematical capability, whose learning curve would inevitably include a history of paradigm dissolutions (with aporetic, even funny, ends). Our astronomy is looking through a fishbowl "universe," our Hubble Volume, which happens to express an anthropic region of the Multiverse.

What difference can any result of research in this area make? What's so fascinating is this interest of inquiry that's apparently for it's own sake, as I mentioned to Mr. Overbye some years ago.

I told him today: "To this philosopher, you've got the coolest journalism job on the planet."

He replied, in part: "...It is a fun job, when not nerve wracking."

Saturday, January 12, 2008

a question of “Philosophy” (as gardening)

If the Philosophy Department disappeared from your university, what difference would it make?

Its literature could be covered in other departments, right? Since every domain’s curriculum has its “foundations” component or “theory” component, the correlate philosophical literature could find good place in the wider context of its subject matter, as part of a rich appreciation of the domain it pertains to. Right?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

philosophy as conceptual work

So, the new year begins. I have a lot of work anticipated. I'll begin the year here—and, I expect, begin to make this blog central to my work—by sharing a passage deleted from a posting today to the Habermas list.

A subscriber's recent indication of concern for “applying Habermasian conceptions” brings to mind my recent interest in distinguishing “theoretical” from “conceptual,” so let me take an opportunity to briefly discuss that, for the sake of Habermasian work (which is so conceptual).