094 Alterable synapses can be replaced by circles


Alterable synapses can be replaced by circles. This is accomplished by the method of Figure Ii. It is also to be remarked that a neuron which becomes and remains spontaneously active can likewise be replaced by a circle, which is set into activity by a peripheral afferent when the activity commences, and inhibited by one when it ceases.


It is easily shown: first, that every net, if furnished with a tape, scanners connected to afferents, and suitable efferents to perform the necessary motor-operations, Call compute only such numbers as can a Turing machine; second, that each of the latter numbers can be computed by such a net; and that nets with circles can be computed by such a net; and that nets with circles can compute, without scanners and a tape, some of the numbers the machine can, but no others, and not all of them. This is of interest as affording a psychological justification of the Turing definition of computability and its equivalents, Church’s λ — definability and Kleene’s primitive recursiveness: If any number can be computed by an organism, it is computable by these definitions, and conversely.

IV. Consequences

Causality, which requires description of states and a law of necessary connection relating them, has appeared in several forms in several sciences, but never, except in statistics, has it been as irreciprocal as in this theory. Specification for any one time of afferent stimulation and of the activity of all constituent neurons, each an „all-or-none“ affair, determines the state. Specification of the nervous net provides the law of necessary connection whereby one can compute from the description of any state that of the succeeding state, but the inclusion of disjunctive relations prevents complete determination of the one before. Moreover, the regenerative activity of constituent circles renders reference indefinite as to time past. Thus our knowledge of the world, including ourselves, is incomplete as to space and indefinite as to time. This ignorance, implicit in all our brains, is the counterpart of the abstraction which renders our knowledge useful. The role of brains in determining the epistemic relations of our theories to our observations and of these to the facts is all too clear, for it is apparent that every idea and every sensation is realized by activity within that net, and by no such activity are the actual afferents fully determined.

There is no theory we may hold and no observation we can make that will retain so much as its old defective reference to the facts if the net be altered. Tinitus, paraesthesias, hallucinations, delusions, confusions and disorientations intervene. Thus empiry confirms that if our nets are undefined, our facts are undefined, and to the „real“ we can attribute not so much as one quality or „form.“ With determination of the net, the unknowable object of knowledge, the „thing in itself,“ ceases to be unknowable.

To psychology, however defined, specification of the net would contribute all that could be achieved in that field — even if the analysis were pushed to ultimate psychic units or „psychons,“ for a psychon can be no less than the activity of a single neuron. Since that activity is inherently propositional, all psychic events have an intentional, or „semiotic,“ character. The „all-or-none“ law of these activities, and the conformity of their relations to those of the logic of propositions, insure that the relations of psychons are those of the two-valued logic of propositions. Thus in psychology, introspective, behavioristic or physiological, the fundamental relations are those of two-valued logic.