June 27, 2016

With fantasy identity becomes uncertain

Saturday, October 01, 2005

The Structure of Behaviour

Maurice Merleau-Ponty 

Our goal is to understand the relations of consciousness and nature: organic, psychological or even social. By nature we understand here a multiplicity of events external to each other and bound together by relations of causality.

With respect to physical nature, critical thought brings a well-known solution to this problem: reflection reveals that physical analysis is 'not a decomposition into real elements and that causality in its actual meaning is not a productive operation. There is then no physical nature in the sense we have just given to this word; there is nothing in the world which is foreign to the mind. The world is the ensemble of objective relations borne by consciousness. It can be said that physics, in its development, justifies de facto this philosophy. One sees it employing mechanical, dynamic or even psychological models indifferently, as if, liberated from ontological pretensions, it were indifferent to the classical antinomies of mechanism and dynamism which imply a nature in itself.

The situation is not the same in biology. In fact the discussions concerning mechanism and vitalism remain open. The reason for this is probably that analysis of the physico-mathematical type progresses very slowly in this area and, consequently, that our picture of the organism is still for the most part that of a material mass partes extra partes. Under these conditions biological thought most frequently remains realistic, either by juxtaposing separated mechanisms or by subordinating them to an entelechy.

As for psychology, critical thought leaves it no other resource than to be in part an "analytical psychology" which would discover judgment present everywhere in a way parallel to analytical geometry, and for the rest, a study of certain bodily mechanisms. To the extent that it has attempted to be a natural science, psychology has remained faithful to realism and to causal thinking. At the beginning of the century, materialism made the "mental" a particular sector of the real world: among events existing in themselves, some of them in the brain also had the property of existing for the selves. The counter mentalistic thesis posited consciousness as a productive cause or as a thing: first it was the realism of "states of consciousness" bound together by causal relations, a second world parallel and analogous to the "physical world" following the Humean tradition; then, in a more refined psychology, it was the realism of "mental energy" which substituted a multiplicity of fusion and interpenetration, a flowing reality, for the disconnected mental facts.

But consciousness remained the analogue of a force. This was clearly seen when it was a question of explaining its action on the body and when, without being able to eliminate it, the necessary "creation of energy" was reduced to a minimum:' the universe of physics was indeed taken as a reality in itself in which consciousness was made to appear as a second reality. Among psychologists consciousness was distinguished from beings of nature as one thing from another thing, by a certain number of characteristics. The mental fact, it was said, is unextended, known all at once. More recently the doctrine of Freud applies metaphors of energy to consciousness and accounts for conduct by the interaction of forces or tendencies.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Cognitive Science

One of the central topics in Tomasello's The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition is language -- how it evolved, how it develops ontogenetically, and how it enhances our cognitive abilities. While there are many languages, language itself is shared by all human cultures. This may be, as Tomasello notes, because some aspects (perhaps its underlying structure) of language are innate. This is the Chomskyan position, and Tomasello is quick to point out that his hypothesis is not inconsistent with some versions of that position (he mentions the principles and parameters approach, which I briefly described here). But it is also consistent with the creation of a simple symbol system by our earliest human ancestors some 250,000 years ago. Out of this system, all languages would develop through the sort of collaboration Tomasello as well as Hutchins and Hazelhurstdescribe. Similarities across languages in their structure, which are fairly common as linguists will tell you, could then be a product of the fact that languages develop to work with existing cognitive and physical (e.g., the anatomy of the vocal tract) mechanisms. posted by Chris @ Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Everyone interested in Cognitive Science should read this:Vision: A Computational Investigation into the Human Representation and Processing of Visual Information by David Marr, 1982. posted by Chris @ Thursday, September 01, 2005

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Kierkegaard and Heidegger

Alastair Hannay - Introduction and notes
While ostensibly commenting on the work of a contemporary novelist, Kierkegaard used this review as a critique of his society and age. The influence of this short piece has been far-reaching. The apocalyptic final sections are the source for central notions in Heidegger's Being and Time. Later readers have seized on the essay as a prophetic analysis of our own time. Its concepts have been drawn into current debates on identity, addiction, and social conformity.
  • PrefaceIntroduction
  • I. Prospectus of the Contents of Both Parts, Part One: The Age of Revolution, Part Two: The Present Age
  • II. An Aesthetic Reading of the Novel and Its Details
  • III. The Results of Observing the Two Ages: The Age of Revolution, The Present Age
  • Notes

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Dynamic Unity of Reality

The Metaphysics of Space and the Wave Structure of Matter
By Philosopher of Science, Metaphysics
At a fundamental level Modern Physics is founded on the concepts of particles and fields in space and time. Further difficulties arise because both light and matter exhibit a particle / wave duality, and there are two main fields, charge / electromagnetic and mass / gravity. While this is still a little simplistic, it makes the point that we have a number of different concepts without any clear understanding of how they are connected. This causes numerous problems for Human knowledge (and society), as we do not understand the necessary connections between these many things we experience. And as Hume made clear (see David Hume's Problem of Causation and Necessary Connection), without this knowledge of necessary connection between things that exist we can have no causal theory of knowledge, leaving the Sciences founded on Induction from repeated observation which is always uncertain (rather than deduction from metaphysical principles which is certain);
Experience only teaches us, how one event constantly follows another; without instructing us in the secret connexion, which binds them together, and renders them inseparable. (David Hume)
So how do we solve these problems? I think the simplest way to explain this is to list these central concepts of physics, show which path Albert Einstein took to try and unite them from a common foundation (which he failed to do), and then demonstrate from the most simple foundation (founded on One thing Space existing as a Wave Medium) how we can finally unite these concepts in a meaningful way that describes reality without paradox or contradiction.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

We are watching the screen watch us

We go to the theater to see a movie, but the final punch line is that movies also watch the audience, the screen sees us, posits us. Jean Paul Sartre depicted the existential position of human being as one always in the "gaze" of an "other." The psychoanalyst Jacque Lacan has formulated a notion of psychological life around this idea whereby, we are who we are always in relation to an Other (or other). The fantasy of the gaze of the Other be it person, thing, or imaginary being or all three, determines our identity. The primordial place where the dynamic of the Other is established is in the relationship between infant and mothering figure. The infant forms its identity through the gaze of the mother; it watches the mother watching it.
For Lacan the central dynamic of human being is desire or more particularly the desire for jouissance, enjoyment or pleasure which is fundamentally sexual. The Other presents itself as a signifier, the object of gratification for this desire. But the other always remains outside the grasp of desire, leaving the subject with a sense of “abyss,” “absence,” “lack,” “gap,” or "void." The intolerability of this lack is defended against through fantasy, and it is fantasy which then becomes the phenomenal stuff of our being. With fantasy as ground of the subject, identity becomes uncertain. Lacan said, "What I look at is never what I want to see."[23]
The goal of Lacanian analysis is to reveal the lack that is always and everywhere there, to understand oneself as a perpetually desiring being in relation through fantasy to an Other which can never be attained. The best that can be hoped for is an "enjoyment" of the symptom.[24] So in addition to understanding ourselves as desirous, more immediately we can come to understand ourselves as fundamentally fantasizing beings.
Our existential position in the movies is that the screen takes the part of the Other. In watching a movie, we are watching the screen watch us. A triple triangle is formed whereby a literal projector is "throwing forward" an image onto the screen, and we the audience, between the projector and the screen, are also projecting our own individual inner lives onto the image, but at the same time a counter projection is occurring whereby the screen is projecting back onto us. Artigos © Ronald Schenk

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