Quick response to Patrick Clarkin’s tweet:
Any thoughts on D. Dennett’s idea of human neurons as rogue agents & „a bit feral“? http://www.edge.org/conversation/the-normal-well-tempered-mind
Dennett says two things here:
a) Neurons are more than simple switches.
b) It makes sense to speak of neurons as “agents”.
While a) is a very good point, drawing attention to the fact that even an inspiring over-simplification is still, well, an over-simplification, b) seems problematic to me.
The concept of agency usually involves something like a “mind”, which includes an internal self-model, a model of the environment, and the ability to represent and evaluate future states of these models. In other words: You need a pretty complex dynamic structure (like a brain) to be an agent. Neurons are elements of such a structure.
So I think the idea that neurons can be treated as agents kind of moves the over-simplification from one place to another.