It's been a long time since Paul Churchland read science fiction, but much of his work focused far into the future, in territory that is almost completely imaginary. For instance, both he and Pat like to speculate about a day when whole chunks of English, especially the bits that constitute folk psychology, are replaced by scientific words that call a thing by its proper name rather than some outworn metaphor. Surely this will happen, they think, and as people learn to speak differently they will learn to experience differently, and sooner or later even their most private introspections will be affected. Already Paul feels pain differently than he used to: when he cuts himself shaving he feels not "pain" but something more complicated - first the sharp, superficial A-delta-fibre pain, and then, couple of seconds later, the sickening deeper feeling of C-fibre pain that lingers. The new words, far from being reductive and dry, have enhanced his sensations, he feels, as an oenophile's complex vocabulary enhances the taste of wine.
Paul and Pat, realizing that the revolutionary neuroscience they dream of is still in it's infancy, are nonetheless preparing themselves for this future, making the appropriate adjustments in their everyday conversations. One afternoon recently, Paul says, he was home making dinner when Pat burst in the door, having come straight from a frustrating faculty meeting. "She said, 'Paul, don’t speak to me, my serotonin levels have hit bottom, my brain is awash in glucocorticoids, my blood vessels are full of adrenaline, and if it weren’t for my endogenous opiates I’d have driven my car into a tree on the way home. My dopamine levels need lifting. Pour me a Chardonnay, and I’ll be down in a minute.'" Paul and Pat have noticed that it is not just they who talk this way - their students now talk of psychopharmacology as comfortably as of food.
- Two Heads: A marriage devoted to the mind-body problem (PDF)
ToL: Methods and Success
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