Problem with Mechanical Accounts of Mental Life…

I quite enjoyed this paragraph from my Human Neuropsychology textbook:

“Of course, one of the problems with all of these mechanical accounts of mental life is their relative inability to account for variability in behaviour. When any living organism is placed in an identical situation multiple times, its behavior in the situations is often variable. The same is not usually true of most machines. Provided that it is maintained in proper working order, a hydraulic press crushes ten similar apples on ten different occasions in a virtually identical fashion. Similarly, when a connection is made on a switchboard, then this connection is disconnected, and then it is connected again, the connection functions virtually identically the second time as it i did the first time. Even computers exhibit very little variability (though still more than we would like). Given the same command under the same conditions, the computer should produce the same response. Complex biological systems are considerably less predictable. According to the Harvard Law of Animal Behavior, ‘under carefully controlled experimental circumstances, an animal will behave as it damned well pleases.'”



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