As You Like It

Take it as you like it.

The next challenge for neuroscience

What we are really looking for is abridge, some way of connecting two separate scientific languages — those of neuroscience and psychology.

Such bridges don’t come easily or often, maybe once in a generation, but when they do arrive, they can change everything. An example is the discovery of DNA, which allowed us to understand how genetic informationcould be represented and replicated in a physical structure. In one stroke, this bridge transformed biology from a mystery — in which the physical basis of life was almost entirely unknown — into a tractable if challenging set of problems, such as sequencing genes, working out the proteins that they encode and discerning the circumstances that govern their distribution in the body.

Neuroscience awaits a similar breakthrough. We know that there must be some lawful relation between assemblies of neurons and the elements of thought, but we are currently at a loss to describe those laws. We don’t know, for example, whether our memories for individual words inhere in individual neurons or in sets of neurons, or in what way sets of neurons might underwrite our memories for words, if in fact they do.

Gary Marcus, a New York University professor of psychology, The Trouble With Brain Science (Op-ed in New York Times, 11 July 2014). 

František Kupka (1871 – 1957)

Paintings seen and photographed at the Veletržní Palace in Prague.

It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it.

—Anais Nin

O body swayed to music,
O brightening glance /
How can we know the dancer from the dance?

—W. B. Yeats

Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.

—Mark Twain

Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.

—Oscar Wilde

Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind.

(Dutch) Denken zonder ervaring is leeg, maar ervaring zonder denken is blind.

—Immanuel Kant

The biggest danger is that we make ourselves into a thing and start staying, ‘this is just who I am’.

(Dutch) Het grootste gevaar is dat wij van onszelf een ding maken en gaan zeggen: ‘zo ben ik nu eenmaal.’

—Jean-Paul Sartre