|Joichi Ito's Reading Notes||January 16, 1999|
|Doubt and Certainty in Science||by J. Z. Young|
Excellent book. The book was published in 1951 and the references to computers are extremely dated, but his analysis of the brain, thinking, scientific discovery, learning, evolution, etc. are very enlightening.
Young tries to look at human beings from the perspective of a biologist. He tries to describe all aspects of humans including religion from a biologists perspective. He looks at the brain as an organ and begins by describing the brain and the neurons that make up the brain. He explains how these neurons and their behavior can explain most of the behavior of humans. Remeniscient of "Lost Worlds", he talks about the evolution of humans and how we are more a product of our social environment than our DNA. (This is a very old thread for me and something I would like to develop more in the future.) He explains how atoms flow through the human body and explains that we are a "pattern" and have nothing solid that persists over time. We are like a whirlpool. "Piology like physics, has ceased to be material," he says. In this sense, evolution of humans is about learning. Learning is about the brain. The neurons in our brain throb happily until they are disturbed by some outside stimulus. They try to come up with some solution that stops the noise and brings the brain back into sync again. This process of disturbance and harmony is the "doubt and certainty" in science he talks about. Learning, he says, is not all as Pavlov and his conditioning shows. Humans look at things and think in order to disturb or break up the harmony in order to discover better ways. He trys to explain that studying the anatomy of the brain my give us insight into the process of learning and help us evolve.
His vision seems to tie in well with the De Bono book about thinking that I have just begun reading after being recommended to do so by Sen Nagata. More on these thoughts later...