SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

Home | About | Philosphy | Contact | Search

conscious of abstracting, we should never confuse description with inference, neurologically processes of different order.
Any discipline, to be a 'science', must start with the lowest abstractions available; which means descriptions of some objective, unspeakable level. In human psycho-logics, 'introspection' is the only possible descriptive level, all other methods being inferential.
The experiments of Doctor Zavadzki were conducted to investigate the mechanism of the so-called 'delayed reflexes'. Speaking roughly, in experiments in which the interval between the conditional stimulus and the reinforcement by food or acid is short, say, one to five seconds, the salivary secretion follows nearly immediately after the application of the conditional stimulus. If the delay between the two is longer, say, several minutes, the appearance of salivary secretions is also delayed, the length of this delay being proportional to the length of the interval between the two stimuli.
In these experiments there were two phases: the one in which the conditional stimulus has apparently no effect; the other in which the conditional stimulus becomes effective. The investigation was continued to discover what becomes of the excitation due to the conditional stimulus during its apparent inactivity.
New experiments finally disclosed an astonishing mechanism. A tactile stimulation was used for three minutes as a conditional stimulus for acid, and reinforced, as usual, by the application of acid, and a stable, delayed conditional reaction was obtained. But when a perfectly neutral stimulus, say, the sound of a metronome or a noiselessly rotating object, never connected with any alimentary stimulation, was superimposed upon the original conditional stimulus, immediately a copious secretion of saliva, together with the motor reactions peculiar to a given stimulus, were obtained.
We see that the excitatory process in the nervous system existed all the time in a concealed, non-manifest form and was released by an extra and neutral stimulus*
Similar experiments show clearly that the structure and function of the central nervous system is such that some stimulations can be concealed and become macroscopically seemingly inactive, giving no obvious manifestation or response, yet preserving their active exciting characteristics which, by proper treatment, can be released at will. In physics, we have a similar phenomenon in the case of 'frozen' light, galvanic and storage batteries, pear-shaped drops of glass resulting from melting, which explode when the end is broken off, and many others, although probably the sub-microscopic mechanisms are different.