[lbo-talk] Left-neoliberalism: a bold strategy for the year 1999

Eubulides paraconsistent at comcast.net
Fri Aug 5 20:18:02 PDT 2011

-----Original Message----- From: Carrol Cox

Keep biology out of it. The human brain is probably a spandrel -- it piggy-backed on some other trait or traits rather than 'evolved' itself. It would have been useless to almost all primates, up to and including the 'first' homo sapiens. Hence nothing about human behavior can be usefully described in terms of biology.


Human becomings currently lack the cognitive capacities to *determine* whether the neuroecologies that are us are spandrels, exaptations or adaptations. Hence we cannot claim they're useless to primates or, indeed chordates of all varieties. The last sentence thus falls apart. For more details on the implications of our cognitive inabilities, see Alex Rosenberg's "Instrumental Biology or the Disunity of Science" [U.of Chicago Press]

The utter flexibility of the human brain frustrates any attempt to attach a particular behavior to a particular evolved trait.

For example. It seems as though the limitations of peripheral vision are "hard wired" as they say. Macular degeneration just affects the macula (forwrd vision) not peripheral vision. That remains unaffected. So I see 'reality' through my peripheral vision -- but can't do a thing with what I see in that way. I can stand 12+ inches from a mirror, and what I see is a goblin of some sort; I shift my head and 'reality' appears: only I can't recognize it!

That certainly seems "hard-wired": The peripheral vision doesn't 'connect' with the conscious; it merely signals that one should look there. BUT, there exist a few training centers (unfortunately none in central Illinois) that train people to 'think' with what they see peripherally! Not hard wired at all. We have no way of judging just how flexible the brain is.



The metaphor of "hard wired" is utterly useless in the self-description of our somatic plasticity.


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