William Uttal is concerned that in an effort to prove itself a hard science, psychology may have thrown away one of its most important methodological tools—a critical analysis of the fundamental assumptions that underlie day-to-day empirical research. In this book Uttal addresses the question of localization: whether psychological processes can be defined and isolated in a way that permits them to be associated with particular brain regions. New, noninvasive imaging technologies allow us to observe the brain while it is actively (...) engaged in mental activities. Uttal cautions, however, that the excitement of these new research tools can lead to a neuroreductionist wild goose chase. With more and more cognitive neuroscientific data forthcoming, it becomes critical to question their limitations as well as their potential. Uttal reviews the history of localization theory, presents the difficulties of defining cognitive processes, and examines the conceptual and technical difficulties that should make us cautious about falling victim to what may be a "neo-phrenological" fad. (shrink)
Directed to scholars and senior-level graduate students, this book is an iconoclastic survey of the history of dualism and its impact on contemporary cognitive psychology. It argues that much of modern cognitive or mentalist psychology is built upon a cryptodualism--the idea that the mind and brain can be thought of as independent entities. This dualism pervades so much of society that it covertly influences many aspects of modern science, particularly psychology. To support the argument, the history of dualism is extended (...) over 100,000 years--from the Paleolithic times until modern philosophical and psychological thinking. The questions regarding this topic that are answered in the book are: 1) Does dualism influence the scientific theories of psychology? 2) If so, should dualism be put aside in the search for a more objective analysis of human mentation? (shrink)
The field of cognitive imaging is explodingboth in terms of the amount of our scientificresources dedicated to it and the associatedpublication rate. However, all of this effortis based on a critical question – Do cognitivemodules exist? Both of the reviewers of my book(Uttal, 2001) and I agree that this questionhas not yet been satisfactorily answered and,depending on the ultimate answer, the cognitiveimaging approach as well as some other parts ofthe quest for mechanistic models of mind mightnot be successful. Our views (...) of how our scienceshould respond to this serious problem,however, are quite different. Both ProfessorBechtel and Lloyd argue for an optimisticattack on the problem of the localization ofcognitive processes in the brain based on thehistory of other sciences. I argue that arealistic appreciation of the limits of thisapproach should temper the enthusiasm for whatultimately will go the way of other attempts tounravel the mind-brain problem. (shrink)
Gold & Stoljar are right in their thesis but incomplete in not pointing out that there are many other arguments from cognate sciences suggesting that a radical eliminativist neuroreductionism is unlikely to be achieved. The radical neuron doctrine they criticize is only a hoped for dogma that cannot be verified, whereas a constrained monistic materialism (with only partial reductionism) is subject to immediate test by applying such criteria as combinatorial complexity and thermodynamic irreversibility.
Pylyshyn circumvents an even more fundamental question: Are the mechanisms of visual perception accessible to the theoretician? Neurophysiology, computer modeling, and psychophysics, as well as his definitions of visual phenomena suggest that he has asked an unanswerable question.
Uttal has written 9 LEA titles over the past 25 yrs. The audience will be the same people who bought Uttal's past work, as well as people teaching courses in THEORY & METHODS of PSYCH.,those w/interests in THEORETICAL PSYCH & the HISTORY & PHILOSOPHY OF.