Publication 2915

Arbib M. A. (2000) Warren McCulloch’s search for the logic of the nervous system. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 43(2): 193–216. Fulltext at
Excerpt: As a young man worrying about the fundamental questions of philosophy, metaphysics, and epistemology, McCulloch set himself the goal of developing an “experimental epistemology”: how can one really understand the mind in terms of the brain? More particularly, he sought to discover “A Logical Calculus Immanent in Nervous Activity.” The present paper will seek to provide some sense of McCulloch’s search for the logic of the nervous system, but will also show that his papers contain contributions to experimental epistemology which provide great insight into the mechanisms of nervous system function without fitting into the mold of a logical calculus. Moreover, McCulloch was not only a scientist but also a storyteller, poet, and memorable “character. ” I will thus interleave a number of characteristic anecdotes into the more objective attempts at scientific history that follow.

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