February 26, 2004

Hayek on Hebb

An earlier post discussed the history of ideas about spontaneous order in neuronal networks, specifically in Friedrich Hayek's 1952 book The Sensory Order and in Donald Hebb's 1949 work The Organization of Behavior. Mark Seidenberg has been to the library, and sends a paragraph quoted from the preface of Hayek 1952:

"It seems as if the problems discussed here were coming back into favour and some recent contributions have come to my knowledge too late to make full use of them. This applies particularly to Professor Donald Hebb's Organization of Behavior, which appeared when the final version of the present book was practically finished. That work contains a theory of sensation which in many respects is similar to the one expounded here; and in view of the much greater technical competence of its author I doubted for a while whether publication of the present book was still justified. In the end I decided that the very fullness with which Professor Hebb has worked out the physiological detail has prevented him from bringing out as clearly as might be wished the general principles of the theory; and as I am concerned more with the general significance of a theory of that kind than with its detail, the two books, I hope, are complementary rather than covering the same ground."

Posted by Mark Liberman at February 26, 2004 05:09 PM