Churchland provides a historical introduction to neuroscience, from the structure of the nervous system to neurology; then a historical introduction to the philosophy of science, from Plato to Popper.
Folk psychology is an empirical theory, just like any other scientific theory, except that, instead of numeric attitudes, folk psychology exhibits propositional attitudes. Folk psychology as a scientific theory is incomplete (as it does not explain dreams, craziness and so forth), is the subset of a theory that has already been falsified (when we realized that physical phenomena such as thunder are not due to the gods) and is difficult to integrate with other scientific theories. Given its low "productivity", folk psychology should be abandoned. Terms such as "belief" and "desire" are as much scientific as the four spirits of alchemy.
Churchland compares propositional attitudes to numerical attitudes (belief to length, desire to velocity, fear to temperature, seeing to charge, suspecting to kinetic energy) and contends that laws can be made for propositional attitudes that are analogous to the ones for numerical attitudes.
In the next few chapters Churchland attacks a number of arguments against the program of reducing mental states to physical states. She criticizes the arguments of substance and property dualism. She examines Nagel's claim that qualia cannot be reduced to neural states, Jackson's claim that sensations cannot be reduced to brain states and Popper's claim that the world of mental states cannot be part of the world of physical states, and proves that they have no conclusive proofs for their arguments.
Churchland is searching for a unified theory of cognition and neurobiology. Churchland believes in a "co-evolutionary" approach to the mind, whereby cognitive psychology and neuroscience are complementary to each other, rather than autonomous. A computational theory of the mind should be based on a theory of the structure of the brain. The symbols of Fodor's mentalese should be somehow related to neurons. And abstract laws for cognitive processes should be reduced to physical laws for neural processes.
The fundamental model of cognitive neurobiology (the "phase-space sandwich" model) is a set of interconnected sheets of neurons modelled on specific cerebral structures that perform by means of coordinate transformations (Paul Churchland).
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