I came across a nice little presentation on certain problematic ways of thinking:
Here’s are two excerpts:
(Lecturer stops waving hand) It’s gone, thank goodness. Now let’s get on with the talk.
This presentation concerns the problems of using nouns rather than verbs when referring to certain activities.
When we do so, we are sometimes inclined to ask the wrong questions.
Incidentally, I wonder where that wave went.
Where is it now?
Is it in my arm?
Is it stored somewhere?
This presentation concerns the problems and misunderstandings that arise when we nominalise and reify activities. We thereby create entities…..
But you might suppose that later today you may start to think about some of the ideas that I have been discussing. Surely you can only do this if there is some thing, some representation of this material – a memory – that exists in your mind and which you retrieve, when you decide to, as you would draw a file from a filing cabinet?
We can say that this is so ‘only in a manner of speaking’, but a more accurate and less misleading description, is to say that, as you are listening to me now biochemical changes are occurring in your brain that enable you, in the future, to engage in the activity of recalling this material.
But do not these observable neuronal properties constitute your memory of this information? Recall again the example of waving. An anatomist may perform a careful examination of a person’s arm and hand. From its macro-and micro-anatomical properties he will conclude that indeed the arm is designed to wave. Put energy into it and it cannot fail to wave. But nowhere in the arm will the anatomist locate a wave.
Likewise, perhaps it will eventually be possible for neuroanatomists to examine a neuronal network and conclude from its structure, properties and location that, put energy into it and it cannot help but engage in recalling recent activities. But what the neuroanatomists will not find is a thought, a memory or an image.
Read the whole thing here: