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    patricia churchland Quotes

    Studies of decision-making in the monkey, where activity of single neurons in parietal cortex is recorded, you can see a lot about the time-accuracy trade-off in the monkey's decision, and you can see from the neuron's activity at what point in his accumulation of evidence he makes his decision to make a particular movement.
    — Patricia Churchland
    tags: decision 
     
    It is important to understand that while oxytocin may be the hub of the evolution of the social brain in mammals, it is part of a very complex system. Part of what it does is act in opposition to stress hormones, and in that sense release of oxytocin feels good - as stress hormones and anxiety do not feel good.
    — Patricia Churchland
    When philosophers try to understand consciousness, much of what they claim is not conceptual analysis at all, though it may be shopped under that description.
    — Patricia Churchland
    tags: philosopher 
     
    Many mammals and birds have systems for strong self-control, and it is not difficult to see why such systems were advantageous and were selected for. Biding your time, deferring gratification, staying still, foregoing sex for safety, and so forth, is essential in getting food, in surviving, and in successful reproduction.
    — Patricia Churchland
    tags: time  food  successful  strong  sex 
     
    Even philosophers who did not mind psychology, claimed the brain was irrelevant because it was the hardware, and we only need to know about the software.
    — Patricia Churchland
    Remember, in the heyday of vitalism, people said that when all the data are in about cells and how they work, we will still know nothing about the life force - about the basic difference between being alive and not being alive.
    — Patricia Churchland
    tags: people  work 
     
    Suppression of impulses that would put you in danger is obviously an important neurobiological function.
    — Patricia Churchland
    tags: danger 
     
    I had no idea what philosophy was until I went to college at UBC. I first read Hume and Plato, so naturally I was under the misapprehension that philosophers are trying to figure out what is true, and that contemporary philosophers are mainly trying to figure out what is true about the mind. Of course Hume and Plato were trying to do that, hence my misapprehension.
    — Patricia Churchland
    It seems probable that humans have been on the planet, with much the same brain, for about 250,000 years.
    — Patricia Churchland
    tags: brain  year 
     
    The neuroscience of consciousness is not going to stop in its tracks because some philosophers guesses that project cannot be productive.
    — Patricia Churchland
    tags: philosopher 
     
    In all probability, mental states are processes and activities of the brain. Exactly what activities, and exactly at what level of description, remains to be seen.
    — Patricia Churchland
    tags: mental  process  brain 
     
    Theorizing is of course essential to make progress in understanding, but theorizing in the absence of knowing available relevant facts is not very productive.
    — Patricia Churchland
    It is surely important that the differences between coma, deep sleep, being under anesthesia, on the one hand, and being alert on the other, all involve changes in the brain.
    — Patricia Churchland
    tags: sleep  brain 
     
    I made the assumption, wrong of course, that conceptual analysis was a brief preliminary on the road to finding out about the nature of free will, consciousness, the self, the origin of values, and so forth.
    — Patricia Churchland
    tags: nature  self  value  wrong 
     
    If I want to know how we learn and remember and represent the world, I will go to psychology and neuroscience. If I want to know where values come from, I will go to evolutionary biology and neuroscience and psychology, just as Aristotle and Hume would have, were they alive.
    — Patricia Churchland
    If you want to understand the nature of something, to find out the truth, that is one thing. If you want to play semantics, make up wild thought 'experiments', that is another thing. I am not so interested in the latter, though I do appreciate that it can be fun, however unproductive.
    — Patricia Churchland
    Knowing about the neurobiological and evolutionary basis for social behavior can soften the arrogance and self-righteousness that often attends discussions of morality. It may help us all to think a little more carefully and rationally.
    — Patricia Churchland
    When that theory is isolated from known facts, it is likely not to be productive.
    — Patricia Churchland
    tags: facts 
     
    It seems that the brain has a "small world" architecture - or at least the cortex does. Everything can connect to everything else in a few synaptic steps.
    — Patricia Churchland
    tags: brain 
     
    Humility bids us to take ourselves as we are; we do not have to be cosmically significant to be genuinely significant.
    — Patricia Churchland
    tags: humility 
     
    Being engaged in some way for the good of the community, whatever that community, is a factor in a meaningful life. We long to belong, and belonging and caring anchors our sense of place in the universe.
    — Patricia Churchland
    I am less attracted to guesses about what cannot be done, than about making progress on a problem.
    — Patricia Churchland
    tags: progress  problem 
     
    If you give up because you announce the phenomenon cannot be explained, you are missing out.
    — Patricia Churchland
    tags: missing 
     
    Brains are not magical; they are causal machines.
    — Patricia Churchland
    tags: brain  machine 
     
    Although many philosophers used to dismiss the relevance of neuroscience on grounds that what mattered was the software, not the hardware, increasingly philosophers have come to recognize that understanding how the brain works is essential to understanding the mind.
    — Patricia Churchland
    Many philosophers in the second half of the 20th century really seemed to think that they were laying the foundations for science by laying down the conceptual (necessary) truths.
    — Patricia Churchland
    tags: truth  philosopher 
     
    Early studies of sleep and dreaming were crucially dependent on waking subjects up during sleep to find out whether they are dreaming or not. Using that strategy, it was found that when the eyes are rapidly moving (REM sleep) people are usually dreaming; when the eyes are not moving, there may be some mentation, but little in the way of visually rich dreams.
    — Patricia Churchland
    Analyzing a concept can (perhaps) tell you what the concept means (at least means to some philosophers), but it does not tell you anything about whether the concept is true of anything in the world.
    — Patricia Churchland
    tags: world  true 
     
    I used to suspect that in the brain, time is its own representation. I now think the problem is so much more complicated. Initially I was rather impressed by the experiments showing that on complex problems, subjects who are distracted do better in getting an answer than either those who answer immediately or those who spend time reflecting on the problem.
    — Patricia Churchland
    tags: time  problem  brain  complex 
     
    Given how long philosophers have been at conceptual analysis (I mean the 20th century stuff), and how many have been doing it, what can we say are the two most important concept results of all that effort?
    — Patricia Churchland
    tags: philosopher 
     
    Eventually I realized that for contemporary philosophers conceptual analysis per se was an end in itself. For some, it was somehow supposed to lead to the truth about these phenomena, not just to tidy things up a bit.
    — Patricia Churchland
    There are many levels of organization in nervous systems. Hence we aim to explain mechanisms at one level in terms of properties and dynamics at a lower level, and to fit that in with the properties at the higher levels.
    — Patricia Churchland
    tags: property 
     
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