Editor’s Introduction - Issue 21.4

The collected works of Warren S. McCulloch are vast. Our goal in re-introducing them through this four-part series in E:CO is to whet the reader’s appetite for the wealth of insight found in the full four-volume collection. We also hope to excite the researcher with our use of latent semantic analysis tools in creating a context in which to place the McCulloch works. The 30+ years during which the collection lay fallow deprived current day researchers of a what should have been a rich intellectual ecology to situate the works. Our goal with the use of technology is to provide researchers with a similar intellectual habitus.

The last issue in this four-part series begins with five articles by McCulloch:

  1. What the Frog's Eye Tells the Frog's Brain, Volume 4, Chapter 102, Cited 2698 times
  2. What Is a Number, That a Man May Know It, and a Man, That He May Know a Number?, Volume 4, Chapter 106, Cited 120 times
  3. Cybernetic Problems of Learning: Conditioning of Control, of Command and of Expediency, Volume 4, Chapter 124 (no meaningful citations)
  4. Of I and It, Volume 4, Chapter 127 (no meaningful citations)
  5. Ragnar Rokr: The Effects of Conscious Purpose on Human Adaptation, Volume 4, Chapter 128 (no meaningful citations)

It then ends with the text of a lecture McCulloch gave in 1952 entitled: Finality and Form in Nervous Activity. I cannot speak highly enough of this lecture. It should be required reading in every introductory psychology course. That it has been ignored for more than a half-century is a loss to many generations of students.

As with the last three issues, there are commonalities to be found amongst the articles. When their contents are run through the American Society for Cybernetic’s epi-search software the following are displayed as recommended book from the ASC’s ISCE Library:

ISCE Library Recommendations of “Related Books”

What the Frog's Eye Tells the Frog's Brain

What Is a Number, That a Man May Know It, and a Man, That He May Know a Number?

Cybernetic Problems of Learning: Conditioning of Control, of Command and of Expediency

Of I and It

Ragnar Rokr: The Effects of Conscious Purpose on Human Adaptation

Finality and Form in Nervous Activity.

This subset of articles is focused on Mind, Brain, Logic, and Understanding. In addition, the notions of Philosophy, Science, Mathematics, Cognition, Evolution, Neuroscience, Neurons, Consciousness and Communication underlie the commonalities in the articles. Running the full text of all the articles combined through a key concept extractor highlights a different aspect of these articles.

Similar analyses are shown for each of the articles. We have prepared a word cloud, extracted key concepts or topics, and run several key word generatorsall with a goal of finding a good short-hand representation of the article itself over and above the abstract of the article prepared by the author. When these shorthand representations are combined (using the ASC’s epi-search technology or its equivalentwe recommend http://findrelatedbooks.com), it becomes possible to look for related books and articles which build upon the original McCulloch article and illustrate where a contemporary researcher might find linkages and inspiration. Thus the shorthand representations are followed by a list of prominent works which cite the McCulloch article (citations per Google Scholar) and a list each of related articles (Google Scholar) and books (Google books) derived by running the complete shorthand representation (abstract plus word cloud plus concepts plus keywords) through the recommendation engine at http://findrelatedbooks.com. It is our intent that by providing this material current day researchers will be able to quickly see how a given McCulloch article relates to their own work or to works they are interested in.

What I find to be of the most interest is locating the McCulloch articles in the current context of today. When I use epi-search on the collection of citations, related articles, and related books from each of the six McCulloch pieces in this issue, the following list of related books is produced:

Theory of Mind: A Special Issue of Social NeuroscienceRebecca Saxe, ‎Simon Baron-Cohen, 2015http://asclinks.live/pvpx
Evolutionary Cognitive NeuroscienceSteven Platek, ‎Julian Keenan, ‎Todd Shackelford, 2007http://asclinks.live/3bjd
Cognition, Brain, and Consciousness: Introduction to Cognitive NeuroscienceBernard J. Baars, ‎Nicole M. Gage, 2010http://asclinks.live/1rbn
The Seven Mysteries of Life: An Exploration in Science & PhilosophyGuy Murchie, 1999http://asclinks.live/rxdy
Development of the Visual SystemDominic Man-Kit Lam, ‎Carla J. Shatz, ‎Retina Research Foundation (U.S.). Symposium, 1991http://asclinks.live/2oac
The Tell-Tale Brain: Unlocking the Mystery of Human NatureV. S. Ramachandran, 2012http://asclinks.live/p45o
Representation in the BrainAsim Roy, ‎Leonid Perlovsky, ‎Tarek Besold, 2018http://asclinks.live/i49j
How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and SchoolNational Research Council, ‎Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, ‎Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences, 2000http://asclinks.live/81vh
Computational Explorations in Cognitive Neuroscience: Understanding the Mind by Simulating the BrainRandall C. O'Reilly, ‎Yuko Munakata, 2000http://asclinks.live/yn5g
The Cognitive-Emotional Brain: From Interactions to IntegrationLuiz Pessoa, 2013http://asclinks.live/p2qd
Psychoanalysis and NeuroscienceMauro Mancia, 2007http://asclinks.live/fbsm
Interference and Inhibition in CognitionCharles J. Brainerd, ‎Frank N. Dempster, 1995http://asclinks.live/1qso
Dynamic Coordination in the Brain: From Neurons to MindChristoph von der Malsburg, ‎William A. Phillips, ‎Wolf Singer, 2010http://asclinks.live/qi7l
Being There: Putting Brain, Body, and World Together AgainAndy Clark, 1998http://asclinks.live/ar1b
Cephalopod CognitionAnne-Sophie Darmaillacq, ‎Ludovic Dickel, ‎Jennifer Mather, 2014http://asclinks.live/moki
The Mirror Neuron System: A Special Issue of Social NeuroscienceChristian Keysers, ‎Luciano Fadiga, 2016http://asclinks.live/k3hv
Neurobiology of LanguageGregory Hickok, ‎Steven L. Small, 2015http://asclinks.live/zaoj
Advanced Brain Neuroimaging Topics in Health and Disease: Methods and ApplicationsDorina Papageorgiou, ‎George Christopoulos, ‎Stelios Smirnakis, 2014http://asclinks.live/7719
The Cognitive Neuroscience of ConsciousnessStanislas Dehaene, 2001http://asclinks.live/8v2v
Dream Consciousness: Allan Hobson’s New Approach to the Brain and Its MindNicholas Tranquillo, 2014http://asclinks.live/1361
The Mind-brain RelationshipRegina Pally, ‎David D. Olds, 2000http://asclinks.live/q0y8

What this collection demonstrates is the high relevance of McCulloch's work to current research. These works, in turn, are focused around the following keywords or concepts: Brain, Inhibition, Cognition, Mind, Evolution, Neuroscience, Neurons, Science, Theory, Communication.

The lists of concepts and key words can, of course, be used to find related material from any corpus. For example, if one wanted to find items in the JStor collection related to these six articles as a group, the following search would be entered into Google: site:jstor.org Brain, Inhibition, Cognition, Mind, Evolution, Neuroscience, Neurons, Science, Theory, Communication.

This results in:

A Systems Approach to the Mind/Brain Interaction ML Lonky, ‎2003https://www.jstor.org/stable/43853993
The Undiscovered Mind: How the Human Brain Defies Replication, Medication, and ExplanationJ Horgan, ‎1999https://www.jstor.org/stable/40063472
the Myth of Mirror neurons AM Glenberg, ‎2015https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/amerjpsyc.128.4.0533
Building a Picture of the Brain GM Edelman, ‎1998https://www.jstor.org/stable/20027490
Self, Brain, Microbe, and the Vanishing Commissar A Young, ‎2011https://www.jstor.org/stable/23064912
Narratology and Cognitive Science: A Problematic RelationML Ryan, ‎2010https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5325/style.44.4.469
Reduction, Explanatory Extension, and the Mind/Brain SciencesVG Hardcastle, ‎1992https://www.jstor.org/stable/188156
Curious Book on Mirror Neurons and Their MythG Rizzolatti, ‎2015https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/amerjpsyc.128.4.0527
Interference and Inhibition in Cognition and Behavior FN Dempster, ‎1999https://www.jstor.org/stable/23361512
Mind and Brain GD Fischbach, ‎1992https://www.jstor.org/stable/24939212
Minimal models and canonical neural computations: the distinctness of computational explanation in neuroscienceM Chirimuuta, ‎2014https://www.jstor.org/stable/24019923
Making Sense of Emotion: Evolution, Reason & the Brain A Öhman, ‎2006https://www.jstor.org/stable/20028050
Thinking about the Brain FHC Crick, ‎1979https://www.jstor.org/stable/24965297
The Evolution and Functions of Laughter and Humor M Gervais, ‎2005https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/498281
The Educational Relevance of Research in Cognitive NeuroscienceJP Byrnes, ‎1998https://www.jstor.org/stable/23359414
Art and Neuroscience JP Changeux, ‎1994https://www.jstor.org/stable/1576051
What Imitation Tells Us about Social Cognition: A Rapprochement between Developmental Psychology and Cognitive NeuroscienceAN Meltzoff, ‎2003https://www.jstor.org/stable/3558128
Neuroeconomics: How Neuroscience Can Inform EconomicsC Camerer, ‎2005https://www.jstor.org/stable/4129306
in search of the social brain L Cozolino, ‎2009https://www.jstor.org/stable/27784429
Is Evolutionary Psychology a Metatheory for Psychology? A Ploeger, ‎2008https://www.jstor.org/stable/20447401
Human Evolution and the Archaeology of the Social Brain J Gowlett, ‎2012https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/667994
Psychobiological Politics G Schubert, ‎1983https://www.jstor.org/stable/3227395
Developmental Social Cognitive Neuroscience: Insights from DeafnessD Corina, ‎2009https://www.jstor.org/stable/25592046
Integrating psychology and neuroscience: functional analyses as mechanism sketchesG Piccinini, ‎2011https://www.jstor.org/stable/41477675
The Neuroeconomics of Mind Reading and Empathy T Singer, ‎2005https://www.jstor.org/stable/4132844
Brain Theory and the Poetics of Consolation JR Roy, ‎1988https://www.jstor.org/stable/24780599

This list of JStor articles shown above is yet another good representation of the work in this issue.

At the end of each article we present the results of the "epi-search" analysis: first a word cloud list of the fifty most used words in the article, then the "topics" as analyzed by the software, and three lists of keywords: the final output of our analysis (generated from the "lexical profile" of the article, a preliminary list generated from the full text of the article using the epi-search software, and a similar list compiled using software from cortical.io.) These are then followed by a list of the top articles which Google Scholar shows to be citing that McCulloch article, a list of "related articles" produced by using the final keywords from the epi-search software as a search in Google Scholar, and a list of "related books" produced by using the final keywords from the epi-search software as a search in Google Books. There have been similar “end pieces” for each McCulloch article in this series.

We will be turning this collection of four special issues into its own book, available in April 2020.

The full four-volume set of the Collected Works of Warren S. McCulloch will be available sometime in May.

On behalf of the American Society for Cybernetics, it is my great honor to welcome you to a contemporary read of the great works of Warren S. McCulloch.

Michael Lissack

President, American Society for Cybernetics and Founding Editor, E:CO, Emergence and Complexity in Organizations