IEET > Vision > Philosophy
On Color vision (35 min)

Paul Churchland tries to explain his theory of color experience.

Along with his wife, Churchland is a major proponent of eliminative materialism, the belief which claims that everyday mental concepts such as beliefs, feelings, and desires are part of a “folk psychology” of theoretical constructs without coherent definition, destined to simply be obviated by a thoroughly scientific understanding of human nature.

Just as modern science has discarded such notions as legends or witchcraft, Churchland holds the belief that a future, fully matured neuroscience is likely to have no need for “beliefs” (see propositional attitudes). Such concepts will not merely be reduced to more finely grained explanation and retained as useful proximate levels of description, but will be strictly eliminated as wholly lacking in correspondence to precise objective phenomena, such as activation patterns across neural networks. He points out that the history of science has seen many posits once considered real entities, such as phlogiston, caloric, the luminiferous ether, and vital forces, thus eliminated. In The Engine of Reason, The Seat of the Soul Churchland hypothesizes that consciousness might be explained in terms of a recurrent neural network with its hub in the intralaminar nucleus of the thalamus and feedback connections to all parts of the cortex. He says his proposal is probably mistaken in the neurological details, but on the right track in its use of recurrent neural networks to account for consciousness. This is notably a reductionist rather than eliminativist account of consciousness.

 




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