Just finished up a long conversation with one of my former students. Among our many topics was a questioning of my old assumption about the field of neuroscience: namely that neuroscience desperately needs a general theory (in the sense that the standard model and quantum mechanics are general theories) on which to scaffold the data from our experiments.
The question is: does neuroscience really need such a theory to be a mature science? Can neuroscience progress and even come to deep knowledge even, as a matter of course, understanding comes with a degree of irreducible complexity?
Certainly physics tolerates the current limitations of quantum mechanics and general relativity, although there are many physicists out there who presumably are doing there best to reconcile the two.
But can we really have a science, which produces practical knowledge (curing of brain diseases) but lacks a theory?
Of course I do recognize that there are many neuroscientists who are thinking at the theoretical level and who work very hard at coming up with something like what I’ve writing about. It’s just that so far, there’s been a lack of any real consensus, and to quote myself, “we really haven’t had our Einstein”…..yet.