By Jay Schulkin
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Extra info for Pragmatism and the Search for Coherence in Neuroscience
Tracking events and statistics Statistics was once seen in quite pejorative terms (Hacking, 1964). An age that was misguided with regard to the notion of necessity for most biological and physical events saw statistical reasoning as a faulty form of knowledge. Isaac Newton, for instance, disparaged uncertainty in physics and relied on necessity for the prediction of the heavens. Immanuel Kant, also, made necessity a condition of what we impose by our categories for understanding. Foraging, Learning, and Knowing 21 Much of real inquiry, however, involves struggling with the unknown, the barely-known, or the yet-to-be-known (Dewey, 1925).
Indeed, from our routine problem solving for survival emerged our ability to discern and act on that which is knowable only with degrees of confidence. That judgmental practice is the heart of statistical inference. We come prepared for statistical reasoning by way of our central nervous system. We now know that diverse regions of the brain are linked to statistical inference, and they include both neocortical and subcortical regions such as the basal ganglia (Knowlton, Mangels and Squire, 1996).
We survive because of our relationships. We were helpless at first, and we still need others to get through our entire lives. But being alone is also a nontrivial part of who we are. Our capacity to master things on our own and to enjoy doing it is almost as essential to us as is social interaction. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in Reveries of a Solitary Foraging, Learning, and Knowing 17 Walker (1776–1778), reveals the connection between self- reflection and human discovery in ten solo strolls in and around Paris and Geneva, moving from descriptions of plants to political philosophy.