Model for the Human Brain

Clearly this needs to be updated:

Because we do not understand the brain very well we are constantly tempted to use the latest technology as a model for trying to understand it. In my childhood we were always assured that the brain was a telephone switchboard. (‘What else could it be?’) I was amused to see that Sherrington, the great British neuroscientist, thought that the brain worked like a telegraph system. Freud often compared the brain to hydraulic and electro-magnetic systems. Leibniz compared  it to a mill, and I am told some of the ancient Greeks thought the brain functions like a catapult. At present, obviously, the metaphor is the digital computer.” (John R Searle, or so the Internet says.)

I would suggest that if we don’t return to the model of the catapult then that it must be the Large Hadron Collider — specifically the two hemispheres can represent the two colliding beams of protons producing a myriad of events each of which involves the creation and decay of many many ephemeral particles (thoughts) out of which only a few muons and neutrinos survive to affect the rest of the universe.  Like the LHC, most brains consume vast amounts of energy and produce little of significance.  I haven’t yet spent much time thinking about the evolution of the metaphor in the case of the ALICE colliding Pb nuclei and trying to create micro Black Holes.

GPK: This brings up all kinds of questions, like “What accelerates the thoughts before they collide?”  Of course, that fits in well with the catapult metaphor, doesn’t it…

One thought on “Model for the Human Brain”

  1. I’m told (by Anastassia Loukina) that the correct reference is:

    J. R. Searle, Minds, brains, and science. 1984. (The 1984 Reith lecture)
    p. 44. [This can be found in Google Books.]

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