Abstract

Prey-catching behavior (PCB) in frogs and toads has been the focus of intense neuroethological research from the mid-twentieth century to the present and epitomizes some major themes in science and philosophy during this period. It reflects the movement from simple reflexology to more complex views of instinctive behavior, but it also displays a neural reductionism that denies subjectivity and individual agency. The present article engages contemporary PCB research but provides a philosophically more promising picture of it based on Whitehead’s nonreductionist “philosophy of organism,” which proposes that the flow of events from stimulus to response in organisms of all kinds is mediated by “the intervening touch of mentality.” This approach resolves some basic mind-body and mind-nature issues that have long bedeviled modern philosophy and presents an image of a postmodern frog for a constructively postmodern science.

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