Naturalism is the claim that there are natural rules and laws for all processes, including those of the mind.
Natural kinds are invariant property clusters. They exhibit co-variation. Another term for the same feature of reality is object constancy. Natural kinds must exist for the world to be logical. Natural kinds permit inferences which the world, if it is logical, must confirm. Covariation assessment is inference. On these points see H. Kornblith, "Our native inferential tendencies", in Goldman (1993).
"Naturalized epistemology is an invention by Quine which posits the possibility of mental content. As is well known, Quine believes in the opacity of mind. He puts his trust in formal logic. It is precisely because in mind the substitutivity relation sometimes breaks down that he argues that it is possible to instill formal logic into mind as the paradigm of cognition. In this sense, epistemology is not about cognition is but about how to reason well. Of course, Quine's ideas on knowledge leave huge explanatory gaps, one being that he simply and deliberately ignores that we can think without having to be taught to think.
S.P. Stich, in
The Fragmentation of Reason (1991), is the development ad absurdum of Quine's thesis. To start with he profers three definitions of epistemology: it is constituted by arguments against scepticism, or it is the definition of knowledge, or it is about good reasoning and proper strategies of inquiry. For the author the last definition is the correct one. Fundamentally, Stich believes that reason determines belief and belief behaviour.
People do not necessarily have rational beliefs. Stich concludes: "People out there are reasoning badly and this bad reasoning is giving rise to bad theories many of which have nasty consequences for people's lives." Since philosophers themselves are incapable of unanimity on even so intuitively self-evident a faculty as awareness, it hardly behooves a philosopher to berate others for not agreeing to agree on issues.
Necessary deductions are necessarily valid but they are not apodictic.
Perception and applications of natural laws are necessary inference.
Necessity can be express as the conditional if a then b. However, there are contingent conditionals such as if a occurs, which is not foregone, then b will occur. This reasoning bespeaks mere possibility or accidental convergence.
In a wide sense, neurophilosophy is the belief that the study of the brain will shed greater light on the workings of mind than direct access to mind itself. It must depend on "loans from psychology" which are never actually repaid In a narrow, more feasible sense, neurophilosophy is precisely the contrary of the wider definition: it is the borrowing of knowledge about the brain, confirmed or hypothetical, to sustain or refine or otherwise propose theories about the workings of mind.
Research into missing limbs and binding are examples of the latter, more feasible version of neurophilosophy. On missing limbs, it used be thought that an ablation produced partial brain death. If this were not true, it would mean that there are no fixed circuits in the brain and no fixed brain architecture. This could imply, e.g., that the brain part sensitive to the activity of the missing limb could become sensitive to the face area, which is what has been observed. Rather than static the brain is dynamic and when a limb is severed the other limbs take over the part of the brain related to the missing limb. An amputation results in a reorganization of the functional map of the brain. But it is not only a defect or absence that affects the functioning of the brain: excess and specialization can also have the same effect.
A blind person's use of Braille will enlarge the area of the brain controlling finger-use These processes where an apparently superfluous part of the brain is taken over by other parts is called filling in cortex gaps. In the case of the Braille user, it is the filling of visual cortex gaps. In recoveries from strokes, the unaffected part of the brain will fill in the damaged part. To be consistent with these observations about brain any theory about mind must make provisions for versatility and adaptation. The language of thought thesis, e.g., should posit that whatever it is that makes logic possible must also be able to contribute to perception and the other way around. The flexibility and adaptability of neurons must be reflected in the speculated components of the language of thought.
(NYT , 11/10/92)
Neurologically, the process of perception can be called binding, although admittedly this is a very rudimentary definition. Binding is the processing of input and its recombination. This assumes that perceptual inputs are the sensations of which objects are composed. It is these sensations that the brain recombines to produce an image
~The binding process can only be achieved by a network. To achieve awareness sensations move towards a convergence zone from which perception emerges. Awareness is the result of cooperative networks in the brain. On the assumption that this description is accurate, then any theory of mind must account for perception on the basis of sensations and must contemplate rules for the analysis or parsing of stimuli and the recombination of parts. Crucially, perception has to be a complex, interactive process pooling the diverse resources of mind and not just the faculty of seeing, hearing, etc.
(NYT , 10/27/92)
John C. Marshall (member of the neuropsychology unit at the University Department of Clinical Neurology, Oxford University) on George Johnson,
In The Palaces of Memory: How We Build the Worlds Inside Our Heads , New York, 1991, in NYTBR, February 24 1991
"In tracing the path toward understanding the brain Mr. Johnson follows the careers, experiments and opinions of three eminent researchers: Gary Lynch, a biochemist at the University of California, Irvine, who works on synapses (the gaps in neuronal circuits that neurotransmitter substances cross in order to propagate nerve impulses from one cell to another); Leon Cooper, a physicist at Brown University, who shared the 1972 Nobel Prize for his theory of superconductivity and who now simulates the operation of nerve nets in large, parallel computing systems; and Patricia Churchland, a professor of philosophy at the University of California, San Diego, who, having taken some medical school courses, doubles as the philosopher-in-residence for the whole neuroscience movement."
"For instance, most neuroscientists agree that learning from experience seems to strengthen or weaken the synaptic connections between nerve cells. But there is a central question about how this is achieved. Does the sending neuron boost the amount of neuro-transmitter it releases into the synapse or does the receiving neuron become more sensitive to the same amount of neurotransmitter?"
Lexicologically: "Neurosis [is] a functional disorder of the central nervous system usually manifested by anxiety, phobias, obsessions, or compulsions but frequently displaying sigsn of somatic disorders involving any of the bodily systems with or without other subjective or behavioral manifestations and having its most probable etiology in intrapsychic and interpersonal conflict."
"Damage to various regions in the frontal lobes typically produces such opposing symptons as distractability versus overfocused inability to get out of ruts, and impulsivity or the inability to follow courses of action that require delaying gratification."
Dennett, Consciousness explained
"Neurotic awareness", a phrase which crops up here and there, is the experience with or without the recognition of a type of propositional clash which often manifests itself as anxiety and is only tenuously related to external stimuli.
Specific mental contents are tokens of types. Tokens are essentially meaningful. Types are perception, thought, and consciousness (the awareness of awareness). For lack of a specific general term, we can use "forms" to refer to affects. Forms "suffuse" tokens. Tokens are seldom affectively neutral, because non-pain can be considered a form of pleasure or well-being. "Neurotic forms" are types of neurotic awareness.
Specifying neurosis itself is a problem. The evidence is strictly subjective. The "neurotic traits" posited here are "possibles".
The fixation of consciousness on past awareness is a refusal to let mind "move on" by concentrating on some thought that seems to offer relief from strong propositional clash involving threats to the specific self. Fixation may originate in a "pleasurable" or "revelatory" (or pleasurable because revelatory) realization insensibly transformed into empty syllogizing and into verbal circularity. Even meaning finally disappears. Fixation eventually becomes anxiety, sometimes accompanied by actual physiological symptons such as sweating or twitching. In the presence of an existential dilemma, reason may prompt: "Take the long view", producing release of tension. Even if the conflicts do not disappear, they can be expelled from awareness, but neurotic fixation keeps returning to the injunction "take the long view" until it is transmuted into a formula without rational force or even meaning. Exhaustion or "reality" will finally make the "long view" operative, but by then release and intentionality will have been transformed out of all recognition.
When mind goes on a "rampage" of disconnected thoughts and images, it is probably groping for something within subconscious. Awareness moves "on its own". Mind becomes dispersed. It appears to be a failure of "will". The completion of a task is followed by a disorganized "flooding" of awareness. Dispersion will try to rescue "debris" from the flood in pursuit of "sense", which evidently cannot be obtained fortuituously, thus leading to more dispersion, until, again through anxiety and the "discipline" of time, organized "voluntary" activity eventually returns. Dispersion could be described as a form of abulia. It ideally betokens the subliminal conflicts that are at the root of neurotic anxiety.
Recurrence is critical self-awareness in the form of regret. Recurrence is a subsconscious dredging of the past resulting in anxiety-riddled states of mind, such as regret or guilt. It seems to be engendered "by itself" and to have no other purpose than to reinforce itself. Guilt is an unspecified form of regret. Regret and guilt over the past are psychologically indistinguishable, but whereas guilt can have some basis in ethical beliefs, regret is baseless. The recalcitrant pain of regret defines neurotic recurrence. This form of pain can be stronger than the pain of guilt.
Fixation, dispersion, and recurrence can be identified as neurotic forms, but they are hard to define for three strong reasons: one, they dissemble "normal" psychological states--all three, for example, become really manifest at the extreme of their own effects--; two, their neurotic intractability makes the possibility of transcending extreme subjectivity barely possible; and three, they also tend to blend into each other, disperson and recurrence turning into fixation, or dispersion being fertile ground for recurrence, or fixation stimulating recurrence, and so on.
In obsessiveness the mind appears determined to exhaust some personal riddle or conundrum guised as a rational issue. At the outset, obsessiveness can pass for a "normal" rational process, e.g., are psychological traits heritable or are they acquired?, but, as in the case of fixation, the reprise of the initially rational enquiry is gradually transformed into obstinacy obeying not the need to know but the desire to do away with the issue itself. Repeated failures produce an unsettling feeling of "unfinished business", so that in obsessiveness it would almost seem possible to be in direct touch with the agitated waters of the subconscious. The only distinction that can be established between obsessiveness and fixation lies in the arbitrariness of the latter, its involuntary and unexpected onset--like a fall into a hidden trap--and the seemingly rational and deliberate trudge into the muddle of obsessiveness.
Secondary sexual impotence is a frequent instantiation of the neurotic condition. Impotence of this type (as opposed to total or physiological impotence) is the result of "blocked impulses": it basically therefore involves a non-response. Once it is stimulated, libidinal energy impels with a particularly strong, almost autonomous force. What then can block such a powerful impulse? Libido does not escape awareness. Even though awareness is not per se a sufficient obstacle to libido, it can block it sufficiently to produce impotence if awareness is critical or obsessive self-consciousness, frequenly if not always aggravated through the transference or projection of critical self-consciousness unto the sexual partner.
Since neurotic awareness is wholly or partially detached from external stimuli, than it must a "conditioning". A bell rings, a dog salivates, but there is no food. A person is confronted by a situation and reacts neurotically but there is no cause. Conditioning is a term from behaviorism. However, it is not misapplied to mind, for it can be argued on solid grounds that thought is a form of behaviour.
The idea of conditioning comes nearer to focus through the phenomenon of obsessive self-consciousness, because what is involved here is a "habit" of the mind in certain situations to become conscious of itself as vulnerable, worthless, or incapable, and to disrupt a "normal" continuity of thought or behaviour, the sexual process in the case we have been considering. In fact, the sexual "hang-up", insofar as it exacerbates anxiety-producing self-consciousness through the awareness of the other's consciousness, is probably the strongest and most characteristic instantiation of the conditioning of mind.
Self-derogation is the source of feelings of inadequacy leading to secondary impotence. Self-derogation is a result of the process of self-specification. Self-derogation is a habitual denial of self-love. Therefore, self-derogation is not just an ordinary specificity of self, but a very powerful manner of self-specification. Although it is tempting to argue that certain forms of self-specification must have special causes, there is really no basis on which to presume that any form of self-specification, however strong, or even indelible, can be originate in any process different from propositional clash.
The neurotic fear of authority is the unmotivated anticipation of criticism and conflict. In neurotic awareness, this attitude provokes inner commotion and physical manifestations such as uncontrollable shaking, even at the slightest appearance, and sometimes only the perceived appearance, of conflict.
Neurotic forms are both types of neurotic awareness and neurotic traits. The implications of these "possibles" are that they are ineradicable and that their relation to reality is precarious. How can these possibles be? What do we need for these possibles to be? Why do neurotic forms persist? Do these possibles form a set?
Mental conditioning is the general designation for neurotic forms. It creates neurotic forms but these in turn reinforce themselves and mental conditioning.
Since neurotic forms are ineradicable, mental conditioning must occur in special circumstances. Freud's reasoning here was probably on target. Mental conditioning must have occurred in circumstances such that we could not prevent it. The only time when these circumstances obtain is during the time when the cognitive system is still in an early stage of development. In sum, mental conditioning occurs in childhood. However, since not every childhood produces neurotic traits, then it must be assumed that traumatic childhood events produce neurotic forms. "Real traumatic experiences" can only be defined and understood in relative contextual terms. The irrational is not necessarily defined only in connection to extreme existential situations, for it can, and usually does, become manifest in trite ordinariness. The etiology and early dynamics of neurosis are principally familial and only secondarily social. The concept of trauma is not misapplied to the familial milieu. But infantile traumas by definition are not repetitive and theoretically rationality should take over at some stage in an individual's evolution. That this does not happen in the case of neurosis is due to the operation of neurotic forms.
This means, among other things, that conditioning can actually take place in solitude. Mental conditioning adverts to neurosis-creating traumatic experiences. This sort of conditioniong has nothing to do with the Pavlov reflex, for it does not create responses to specific stimuli. But it is analogous to behaviorism in that once the process of conditioning is accomplished, its results will continue operating. In other words, in mental conditioning the mind remains vulnerable after the infantile traumas have disappeared from memory. However, the analogy is easily over-extended: mental conditioning, like "operant conditioning", originates in specific "stimulus conditions" (traumas), but the responses are soon disassociated from them and they "hover" or "float" over awareness to which they adhere or attach without any perceivable cause or under no recognizable pattern of circumstances.
If neurosis adverts to and defines itself in terms of formal structures, then the temptation is there to go one step further and question the reality of the past. From the perspective of the genesis of neurosis, it does not really matter what the contents of childhood traumas were as long there were traumas strong enough to condition the mind. The biographical past is a fiction that can be changed or manipulated. What matters is the resulting framework of thought. Nevertheless, the intensity of the forces that shaped it are not of indifference: there are limits to how far we can play with the past. Its seeming evanescence and its interchangeable irrationality cannot be taken lightly.
How is it that childhood reactions involving guilt and insecurity, which, in the logic of the evolution towards adulthood, should come under the control of rationality, last into later life and can even become more pronounced? Real traumas creating "neurotic" complications are of course a possibility at any stage of life, but it is not a possibility that we have to contemplate within the context of our childhood-based model: a neurotic individual can remain noticeably neurotic throughout life without the intervention of additional real traumas. Continuing "misperceptions" is difficult to refer exclusively to the original traumatic effects within the nuclear-family situation, and although these original traumas do relate to our explanation of the perdurance and intensification of traits, they do so through the intermediation of neurotic forms. The operation of conditioned mind through neurotic forms is the necessary condition for the repetition and reinforcement of the effects of the ab origine traumas. In the case of neurotic forms, it is as if the mind, within itself and by itself alone, had been "programmed" to assume certain attitudes and produce certain "responses". When neurotic forms become operative, the mind, within itself and by itself alone, determines processes and reactions that have no rational justification or that are not explicable from empirical inputs.
In brief, the formal character of the neurotic experience in general seems to be "like reactions/different situations". Neurotic forms are reactive patterns originating without sufficient rational scrutiny and arising without a clear internal cause-external effect relation. They are purely psychical events--albeit eventually traceable to the process of socialization--and they are nearly or totally unmotivated. Their existence can only be explained in terms of themselves, as perhaps the means by which the subconscious and the mental in general keeps its lines open to the original neurotic traumas.
Neurotic forms operate even without stimulation. They arise of their own, under circumstances which mind itself creates. There may be stimulation, but it is usually purely subjective: there is no "rational relation" between awareness and the way mind "interprets" awareness. Evidently, this situation has to have its effects on behaviour, but as we have also argued, neurotic behaviour is very difficult to distinguish from non-neurotic behaviour.
The mind itself which as conditioned consciousness keeps neurotic traits operative and makes itself more vulnerable through further traumas or perceived traumas. Through consciousness conditioning and neurotic forms, neurotic experience can be compared to one continuing existential trauma. Conditioning does not necessarily explain neurotic traits, but why they continue and become stronger. Insecurity, abulia, guilt, and so on, can be considered and even "understood" apart from mental conditioning, but their "occurrence" is facilited and sharpened through fixation, dispersion, recurrence, and obsessive self-consciousness. Conditioning per se cannot explain secondary impotence, which is explained by the inhibitions resulting from exacerbated critical self-awareness, but it explains the conditions which inhibit or block the libido. Neurosis, therefore, is not so much a question of neurotic traits as contents or as behaviour as of an irreparable, un-modifiable general condition of the mind that does not respond to rational counsel or therapeutic intervention because it is neither rational nor curable.
The specific self is in itself a denial of categories, neurosis among them. But neurosis does conceptualize acute and frequent anxiety-states. It cannot be denied that sensations become perceptions and that human rationality evolves in a manner common to all individuals. However, the basic claim is that the process of development for each specific self is unique in the sense, e.g., of variations on one theme. The individual must be categorized in a specific way. Neurosis is problematical because it is so Protean that it can pass simply as an specific way of being. Neuroses do not fit into precise typologies. Their "symptom" vary widely from individual to individual. It is not possible to establish fixed groups of symptoms. The problem with neurosis is its specification. Neurosis is a Freudian invention frequently reinforced and reconfirmed in literature, very particularly in the work of Kafka and possibly in Beckett, although Kafka is more specific. However, neurosis is hard to specify even with the literary reinforcements. Freud's specification is not very specific. It is ambiguous and since Freud was wrong and cynical to boot neurosis is a suspect construct.
One way to give it density is through imagining the "neurotic", i.e., a person with such and such traits. As with gedanken, it is a perfectly logical maneuver. This saves us the embarrassment of justification from introspection and from clinical anecdotes or from any such sources. Once we have the neurotic we can then try to explain his traits from cognitive theory and theory of mind. An explanation of this sort would use concepts and arguments from those theories to provide likely etiologies. However, starting from a possible fiction, why bother?
The question of neurosis boils down to the question of well-being. The threat to well-being is anxiety. This is ultimately the neurotic problem and this is indeed worth bothering about. Going about it this way would constitute a refutation of Freud by ignoring or maybe alluding deprecatingly to his outlandish ideas. This is not to say that Freud was not a very successful and intelligent essayist.
Any one can crash against the circular denseness of awareness--hence
L'innomable- --but the neurotic is more prone than "others" to feel the circular denseness of awareness. Neurosis is the exacerbation of awareness: hence, in Beckett's work the exacerbation of awareness suggests neurotic awareness, but this exacerbation of awareness can be derived from awareness itself without involving neurosis. This suggests that neurosis does not exist: that it is a psychoanalytic myth.
The specific self is resistant to categorizations. That there are stages in human development simply means that our cognitive abilities evolve according to genetic programmes towards their realization. But the "curve" of development is different for each individual. Neurosis is a particularly difficult category. It is characterized by "chronic" anxiety. But anxiety per se cannot establish a category. Neurosis simply refers to ways of being miserable. But we do not get to the root of misery from "categories". We get to the root of misery through the understanding of the specific self.
Nevertheless, mind is subject to patterns. There are cognitive patterns such as contrastive thought. Anxiety-producing propositional states seem to be also one of those patterns. These states can be called "neurotic forms". They are patterns of thought that tend to recur and produce anxiety. The "implantation" of neurotic forms in the individual harks back to cognitive conditioning in childhood. One argument for cognitive conditioning is that thought can be considered to be a form of behaviour. Another approach to conditioning is through the development of the specific self. The strength of neurotic forms lies in that they are implanted in the individual during a time when when cognitive abilities are still "underdeveloped". The lack of fully developed rationality lets through and fixes in the specific self forms of thinking and behaving which produce anxiety. And what is learned under such conditions is very difficult to unlearn. It is as if we were taught that the universe is finite or infinite and we went through life with an utter conviction in either concept. From not caring one way or another such "knowledge" is believed tenaciously.
The most intractable aspect of neurosis is anxiety. Since neurotic conditioning cannot be shed, anxiety is a pain that goes on through life without possibility of sooth. We can propose a likely hypothesis to explain how anxiety arises. It assumes propositionality and a meaning-giving mental "language" constituted by "squiggles". These are propositional duplicates of neurons. Whatever can be said of mind must be "reflected" in squiggles. Nothing can be predicated of squiggles that can contradict what we know about neurons, for which squiggles are propositional analogs. A specific self is a sum of specific propositions in a hierarchical arrangement "shielded" by the self-love implicit in specificity itself. This shielding function is non-selective. It will protect even propositions that are inimical to the specific self. Basically, the specific self is a "motivational system" that wants to go on existing. What we can say of anxiety is that when inputs "clash" with the specific self, squiggles are "activated" in a way which simultaneously replicates the activity of neurons in a state of pain. Thus, physical pain accompanies propositional activity, which is in itself affectively neutral. The signal for the transference of pain from matter to mind is propositional clash. Neurotic forms are propositional states conducive to propositional clash. Whether explaining the source of anxiety in this or in any other way can be a source of relief from it, is widely open to doubt.
The same grounds for positing neurosis can be used for negating the category of neurosis. It is the specificity of self that is at the root of neurosis, but the specificity of self also precludes the categorization of neurosis. The components from which the picture of neurosis is composed--anxiety, guilt, recurrence, etc.--are universal traits in humanity. Since they are also unquantifiable, it is hardly useful to argue that it is their quantity that defines neurosis. The negation of categorization seems itself to be negated when we argue for what amounts to the development of logic from a period in which it is undiscriminating in the acceptance of premises to its gradual sharpening through the accumulation of experience. But where is the cut off? The argument is not that the self does not develop. The argument is that development itself is specific. It may be possible to define some kind of outline of stages, but it will not be very helpful in any practical sense. Neurosis is particularly unhelpful. Finally, the concept of neurosis itself is suspect even in its origins. The word had been around since the late 18th century, but it was Freud who gave it some substance in the form, however, of highly dubious theories about the development of personality and the ground-floor nature and importance of instincts.
Let us assume an individual who has a pathological fear of being unmasked or denounced as a fraud, perhaps a sham adult, a child in the body of an adult. In certain situations that individual will feel threatened by stares, alluded to in harmless banal statements, singled out by gestures or even voice inflections. That individual will agonize through certain dramatic representations: a film, for instance, in which an idiot is taken for a genius, or a child for a grown-up toy executive. These reactions are neurotic reactions that can be explained in different ways. The neurotic individual could be labouring under an obsession to be conventional, because his parents were themselves obsessively conventional. He could also be the victim of "great expectations". His neurosis could consist in trying continually and unavailingly to live up an abstract model of perfection set up by his mother in order to ingratiate him, and herself, to the father. It is deducible that such a person could be cruel to idiots. These neurotic reactions perdure against all logic. They are irrational. Yet a neurotic individual by definition is not irrational, that is, he is not alienated from the real world where rationality is the final norm. How does his rationality lose the power to control his neurotic traits? Or alternatively, how is it that his neurotic reactions become strong enough to overcome the discipline of rationality? The explanation lies in the operation of neurotic forms in at least two distinct ways: one, through the habitual inhibition of logic and rationality in dealing with psychological states, since neurotic forms are themselves seemingly unmotivated and irrational; and two, through their undermining psychological influence in the constant repetition of the consciousness-conditioning experience, as, for example, in the powerless and puzzling perception of paradox. Neurotic forms are the seeds through which consciousness-conditioning keeps neurotic traits and reactions alive and even makes them stronger over time.
Suppose a teacher and a pupil. The pupil takes a test, tries as best he can, and he is told by the teacher that he failed it. The pupil prepares himself again as best he can, takes the test a second time, and is told again by the teacher that he failed. The pupil reviews scrupulously all he did before, prepares himself again, he is even told that he is ready and that he can pass and must pass the test, he takes the test a third time, and the teacher tells him flatly and without possibility of appeal that he failed again. What can the pupil do? He could do various things. He may give up trying to pass the tests, but this he cannot do: he simply has to take them. He could tell the teacher to go fuck himself, but he knows that the consequences of doing this will be worse than failing the test. He has two additional choices: he can conclude that he is a hopeless dummox and that he will never pass the test no matter how hard he tries. Or he can know that he is not a dummox, but that he will never pass the test anyway no matter how hard he tries. In either of these alternatives, he can simply give up when faced with the test and do nothing at all to pass it or he can do as if he is going to try to pass the test and deliberately screw up. Now, substitute "teacher" for "father", multiply many, many times the first three tries at passing the test, and you have the failure proposition and its terrible, overwhelming affective force. There are certain problems. When the pupil takes the test again and again, he is not conscious of deliberately doing anything to fail it. But there's no contradiction here. He can have the desire to pass the test. In fact, the many failures could have intensified the desire and made it a highly emotionally charged proposition. But when he is faced with the test again, the failure proposition can intervene and propositionally overrule the desire to pass it. Therein lies the unconscious deliberateness of failure. He fails because the failure proposition imposes itself. If choice is manifest when a proposition refutes all other propositions and emerges as the domninant proposition, then he actually chooses to fail. Or there is the problem of the pupil failing with teachers other than the initial teacher/father. But the failure proposition is in a squiggle. Squiggles are cognitive unities, i.e., fully logical and fully rational, and these propositions can easily transpose the initial teacher/pupil relation into any relation such as when the teacher is not the teacher/father but any substitute for the teacher/father, even some one manifestly beneath the student's logical and rational proficiency. The crucial thing about the teacher/pupil or father/son relation is that it posits implicitly the desire to be approved/loved.
Apply this to golf. If the pupil is totally relaxed he will start by playing well. The initial success translates into a larger challenge the next time he is going to hit the ball. And the challenge evokes the failure proposition. He will be conscious of the difficulty of hitting the ball correctly and do any number of things wrong: he will pull his swing, he will hesitate for a fraction of an instant, he will take his sight off the ball, etc. etc. In all cases, he will be willing his own failure. Now, the case of golf and the failure proposition together is complicated by the fact that the pupil may simply not have the requisite physical conditions for being a good golf player. His sight may not be perfect. His neural cells also make connections which bypass propositionality, as when a painful back actually affects the swing. The physical possibilities are myriad. But the failure proposition can be observed not in the badness of his game from physical inadequacies, but in his not being able to physically implement certain propositions, such as "swing slow", "keep your eye on the ball", and so on, even when he is not tired or when his back is not hurting.
The failure proposition will be demonstrated by these specific failures of the body/mind reciprocal relation and not by the scores.
It will even be seen operating when he the pupil starts the swing correctly and even when the body is in a condition to respond, he skewers the swing at the end, because the squiggles/neural cells connection is not just at the beginning but at any moment during the swing.
Let us finally introduce a further illustrative argument in which two ideas we have to keep separate are yuxtaposed and related to each other. Let us consider the existential situation of an individual stranded in a distant island, without money, engaged in slow, exigent, unexciting work. He is suffering from loss of libido and engages in fantasies and internal debates about sexual desire. He is struggling with smoking and over-eating. He is also going in for casual pseudo-philosophical or self-indulgent self-contemplation. What we have here is a plausible combination of repetitive or circular mental events and social reactions that define a specific psychological situation--or if not in itself specific as described, so constructed as to be easily made specific--an uncomfortable situation perhaps, exasperating even, but not necessarily requiring clinical diagnosis.
Let us classify it as the "premises" in our illustration and let us suppose that these premisses overlap with or are accompanied by a constant disoriented search in the mind resulting in loss of will power, by a tendency of ideas to recur obsessively, and by a noticeable vulnerability to regret. In addition, there could be distraction, inability to concentrate, word-fixation, inertial or zombie-like behaviour, sweaty palms, anxiety, self-doubts, and so on.
The fundamental characteristics of this complex situation are (1) the underlying concerns, i.e. the premises, which can be said to be within the range of the "normal" circularity of existence, and (2) the exacerbation of these concerns through the effect of the neurotic forms that we have posited here as concomitant with the premises.
These have a source in certain concrete circumstances. Their degree of intensity--the presence, for instance, of anxiety--could indicate neurosis. But the "overlap" surely is neurotic. The fixation, the endless searching, the abulia, the recurrence--these are not related directly to the circumstances of the premises and they indicate the internal unmotivated operation of neurotic forms. They may indicate and achieve a particular vulnerability to the premised concerns, but they exist purely in relation to awareness itself, for the sole discernible purpose of maintaining the neurotic conditioning of awareness. In this sense, it is possible to invert the relationship and say that neurotic forms by and of themselves can lead to exacerbated traits such as those we have designated as premises.
In other words, neurotic forms are mechanisms without content that propitiate neurotic thought and behaviour, and in the process, reinforce themselves and reinforce the traumatic conditioning of awareness. They keep open the wounds of traumatic conditioning. Why they exist we shall try to explain with the idea itself of awareness conditioning.
Summary on neurosis
In a wide Freudian sense, neurosis is: (1) caused behaviour (taking thought to be a form of behaviour); (2) compulsive behaviour including circular thought; (3) behaviour that causes anxiety; (4) behaviour that tends to reinforce itself. Mind is basically subconscious cognitive processing. Since it is not likely that neurotic behaviour is inbred or innate, it can only arise from the effect of environmental influences upon cognitive processes. The so-called neurotic self like any specific self is necessarily the object of self-preservation. But it doesn't make any sense for self-preservation to be directed towards behaviour not genetically determined that impairs the libidinal function as occurs in the case of secondary impotence from feelings of sexual inadequacy. Neurosis appears to go against the grain of common sense.
The specific self is not only cognitive processing. It is also the ability to have physical and propositional affects. In this respect, neurosis as manifested in anxiety hovers in a middle ground between physical pain and propositional clash. Anxiety itself is an extreme form of propositional clash, which is the basic mechanism whereby the specific self is constantly responsive to the process of self-specification. The specific self wants to go on being as it is and it changes only from the strong impact of propositional clash. Sexual impairment, a strong though not necessarily the only form of neurotic behaviour, is a result of propositional clash. How is the behaviour of the specific self sidetracked towards neurotic sexual impairment and other forms of neurotic behaviour? Self-evidently, it must be from propositional input provoking propositional clash and neurotic self-specification. Through different related ways the developing specific self can come to attain a pernicious form of self-specification. Implicitly, the norm of self-preservation should prevent such a thing for happening. In reality, it appears not to discriminate between what is beneficial and what is harmful in the process of specification of the self. It accepts at its face value the hierarchical ordering of propositions in the specific self. The individual, however neurotic, however beset by anxiety, is the object of the protective embrace of the self-preservation norm. Neurosis is like a perversion of the scheme that we are proposing about human development and behaviour. And this leads to a logical contradiction.
The specific self has an innate tendency to self-preservation. The specific self changes from propositional clash. The interactiveness between the environment and the specific self should serve to enhance the specific self. In the case of neurosis, change in the specific self through propositional clash does not enhance but diminish the specific self and it is this result which paradoxically is subjected to the influence of the self-preservation norm. But self-preservation should not lead to what amounts to a virtual denial of itself, and this means that the only conceivable explanation for this situation is that, however contradictory it may sound, the neurotic diminution of the specific self must result in an inconceivable enhancement of the specific self. This is the extreme paradox of neurosis.
Let us consider neurosis from the perspective of guilt. How can guilt and its harmful consequences become ingrained as part of the specific self? One reason, perhaps the main reason, has to do with childhood, because it is only in childhood that the specific self is impressionable and vulnerable enough to be affected by propositional clashes and self-specifications that, under another, more rational perspective, would seem wholly destructive. Strong propositional clashes that would incline the specific self towards guilt or self-hatred can be dealt with at an advanced stage of the self's rational development. In childhood such threats to the specific self are not easy to shrug off or to analyze. Nevertheless, the strong internalization of guilt that characterizes neurosis must at its source be acceptable to the specific self. Self-specification can lead eventually to harmful, even self-destructive, results, but the process as such cannot be deleterious to existence. The onset of guilt is the result of propositional clash, but propositional clash itself, like the norm of self-preservation, is neutral, and just as it can instil guilt in the individual it can also serve to counter or even to extirpate it. In instilling guilt, propositional clash need not be functioning as a destructive mechanism. It could even be contributing to lessening other painful effects of the process of self-specification. Given our premises about the specific self and the self-preservation norm, there is nothing illogical about these claims and countless examples could be mustered to give them empirical backing. In the case of childhood, there is at least one explanatory scheme that comes to mind. The child knows that it is dependent. Its specific self relishes and wants to maintain its dependence, because it is afraid of what would happen if it were cut off from it. In certain situations the child's specific self must assume guilt because to deny its guilt would mean to sever the connection of dependence. The specification of guilt in the child can be a means to exclude the alternative of the end of dependence, which is vital to its survival. Does the child know this? He certainly has to know that he is not an adult and that without the protection of his parents he would not be able to cope with life.
But without having to accept this explanation, merely assuming that guilt can be a means of beneficial self-specification, why does guilt and its neurotic consequences remain as a feature of the specific self beyond the dependence stage and into a mature rational stage? Why can't reason dissolve the link of the specific self to self-destructive traits such as the causes of sexual impairment, among which guilt is of crucial explanatory value? Here again we must go back to the child's susceptibility to eventually self-destructive specifications. Specific traits, and especially perhaps neurotic specificities, become more easily entrenched in childhood than in later stages. But this is not the whole story. No matter how impressionable the child, the same processes of specification, self-preservation, and propositional clash go on occurring through life. There is therefore no reason not to suppose that propositional clash, just as it instils guilt, could also lead to the uprooting of guilt. Given that it is to be expected that the specific self would seek to shed traits which are harmful to it, it is only reasonable to suppose that propositional clash and the process of self-specification will deal with them in time. The persistence of neurosis must, therefore, entail one of two things: (1) that the shedding of neurotic traits does not enhance the specific self and does not come in for special attention from the principle of self-preservation, which is prototypically the case of neurosis stimulating creativity or self-advancement; or (2) that circumstances were such that there did not come about such propositional clash as would lead to the denial of neurotic traits. Therefore, even if, as is likely, childhood is the incubator of neurosis, at least it cannot be said that the persistence of neurosis must also be attributed to childhood. The fact of the matter seems to be that neurosis in the adult is either a bearable burden, like any other specific trait, or actually benefits the specific self.
There is an event in which the extreme paradox that neurosis poses cannot be resolved in any way whasoever, and this is suicide. In neurosis it is arguable that neurotic self-specification does not necessarily diminish the specific self, and so there is not contradiction in the norm of self-preservation applying to something akin to its own self-denial. However, in the case of suicide the norm of self-preservation appears to cease to operate and this is not something that can be contemplated within our propositional theory of the specific self. In other words, in suicide some explanation must be found in which self-preservation not only seems to but actually works against itself. Self-preservation suffuses all the propositions that constitute the specific self. These are organized in a hierarchical order. Among them some are the source of unresolved propositional clash and could represent a denial of the self-preservation norm. In the case of neurosis we argued that such a contradiction in fact does the work of self-preservation in a roundabout way. We are assuming now that there is no mitigation whatever in the propositions themselves, e.g., suicidal tendencies in an individual. However, such propositions are not normally dominant in the propositional hierarchy of the specific self. Most propositions, including those that occupy the highest ranks in the hierarchy, tend on the contrary to reinforce the operation of the self-preservation norm. This simply means that suicide is an uncommon occurence. But it does occur! And when it does occur what happens is that the self-destructive propositions, which themselves, like all others in the hierarchy of the specific self, are suffused by the self-preservation norm, manage to take the ascendancy. This can only happen through propositional clash, although of course of a particularly violent nature, but that suicide itself does not escape the propositional nature of the self is visible in the near-inevitability with which people who kill themselves leave suicide notes, often to explain the huge paradox that self-preservation should participate in its own destruction.
There is however a fatal flaw in the concept of neurosis, and it is that it contradicts the principle of the specificity of self, which is the basis on which we have tried to explain it. The same can be said of all other human typologies. Either selfhood is specific and we cannot create a category such a neurosis or typologies such as introversion and extroversion, "Apollonian and Dyonisiac", "hedgehog and fox", and so on, or we accept the validity of these categories and find ourselves in trouble about the specificity of self. Neurosis could be a set of specific selves, but apart from the difficulty of making valid statements about the properties which would define such a set, there is the problem that self-specificity is created by specific traits. Every neurosis must necessarily be specific and this makes it difficult to create the set of specific selves that would define neurosis. A possible way out could be the principle of straying from type. Every token recognizably belongs to a type as long as it does not stray crucially from its type. All neuroses would then be tokens of a type and we could still create a category with neurotic specificities. The type-token relation is applicable in cases where a process can be distinguished from its results, as logic from erroneous inferences or perception from acts of perceiving. The problem is that the specificities that characterize neurosis are not of so singular a nature as to justify the creation of a type. We cannot argue that secondary impotence or anxiety or guilt, or even all these together, are specific to neurosis, because we know this to be quite un-demonstrable. All along this analysis we have been carrying on a low-key polemic with Freudianism, yet neurosis, as we admitted, is a Freudian concept, so how can we make any claims about the type to which all specifically neurotic selves belong? Exactly the same arguments can be used against other typologies. And in the apparent struggle between categorizations and specifications, it is safer to stick to a concept such as the specificity of self, for which we have a solid foundation, than to venture out on a terrain in which nothing is solid beneath our feet, which is the case of Freudian psychoanalytic theory.
There is one, as we see it, final possibility for specifying neurosis. In giving a conventionally Freudian definition of neurosis we mentioned that it is characterized by circular thought. There is a tendency to see in neurosis a kind of higher awareness. The myth of Philoctetes, whose wound was said to symbolize neurosis, was at one time frequently invoked as an allegory of the artist. The neurotic circularity of thought is the notion of thought obsessively chasing thought for various different purposes: to pin it down like a specimen, to remove pain from mind, even to dig in one's heels against time. All these mental events can be anxiety-producing. In literature, some of the works of Samuel Beckett express this obsessive concern of thought with itself. All of these ideas point vaguely to consciousness. But what exactly is consciousness? We have already proposed en passant a minimalist, functional definiton of awareness. If consciousness is anything beyond perception, thought, and the ability to distinguish between both, then it must be something like the awareness of awareness. Given the temporality of existence, however, the only way to have such thing is merely to recall past awareness. In other words, if consciousness is to have any concrete sense different from awareness, then it must consist in the recall of past perception and past thought as distinct types of mental events. This is not to say that consciousness is another name for a theory of mind. Thought on a theory of mind is the result of cognitive processes involving recall, but not recall in itself which is the essence of consciousness. What all this means is that consciousness is an epiphenomenon. If neurosis then is the obsessive pursuit of thought, then it must consist in either the exacerbation or the exaltation--whichever seems more fitting is a matter of taste--of the epiphenomenon of consciousness. Even so, it could be claimed that neurosis is an involuntary demonstration of the reality of consciousness beyond the epiphenomenal condition. The trouble with such a claim is that it is not from neurosis alone that consciousness can be observed or recognized and that what neurosis actually does is to distort in an anxiety-producing manner an ordinary but unimportant ability of mind.
Every neurotic is simply an individual. Assuming self-confessed neurotics, the facts are that no neurotic is like another, that there can be no set of neurotics, and that neurosis itself is empty of logical reference. None of this can be a denial of anxiety, and neurosis as a vague designation of proneness to anxiety is still a convincing metaphor for unhappiness. But who would have the gall to define happiness? Or the audacity to lay a claim on it? So instead of neurosis what we have are specific ways of being unhappy and specific ways of being perplexed about life. If we wanted to be extremely speculative, we could argue that neurosis is a designation for the flaws that history exploits to grind down the losers. But since it will be easily granted that neurosis and being a loser are not necessarily synonymous, then even this subjective justificatory use of the term is devoid of sense, and there is no percentage at all in chasing a beast that cannot be identified properly, that will never be caught, and that if caught cannot be eaten.
Nietzsche can be considered either as a
watershed philosopher in the manner of Descartes or Hegel, or more likely
as the greatest philosophical iconoclast in history. The following is a
brief interpretation of the context of his iconoclasm. Society sanctions
morality. It is assumed that history must have some moral significance.
This moral view of history and society, implies a reciprocal relation
between the individual and history. The individual is necessarily
historical. History comes into being from individual awareness. All of
this amounts to a bottom-line claim on the interpretability of history:
history is meaningful. The denial of the interpretability of history
involves a debasement of the social sanction of morality and of the
significance of the historicity of the individual: to be historical,
whether society or the individual, means nothing whatsoever, implies
nothing about existence or about social institutions. But this scepticism,
which could conceivably have devastating psychological effects, makes even
more urgent the necessity for the interpretability of history and its
institutional and other consequences. However, it is possible be sceptical
in the sense just described, because such radical scepticism is compatible
with survival. We do not need to be upbeat about history and society to
accomplish our work admirably, much less to merely get on with it. And
this means that all the talk about social sanction and morality and
historical meaning is bunk. It may be implicit in all of what humanity
does and has done, it may be a cherished if mostly implicit and unexamined
individual or social mythology, but it is all bunk nonetheless, Thus
Nietszche stomps his way into the philosophical mainstream.
The thesis of Nietzsche as watershed
philosopher is expounded in Vattimo and, less markedly, in Rorty. However,
to qualify Nietzsche in this manner would require an exposition on the
Nietzschean legacy in philosophical thought, and there is no such thing,
despite the efforts of Heidegger and others. It would probably be closer to
historical reality to include him in the cycle of existentialism.
David E. Cooper, "Doing it my way--or
your way", TLS April 27-May 3 1990, p.444
The author makes a case for Nietzsche as
philosopher of form rather than of contents. He seems to be saying that
there is merit in certain formal attitudes in themselves: not being afraid
of conflict, passionate commitment, holding opinions that go against the
herd-trend, so on. The last man and the overman: herd-man v individual.
Nietzsche's philosophy is a tacit and not so tacit debunking of all overt
and implicit premises of all previous mainstream philosophy. Among those
premises are meaningful history, cosmic order, "profitability" of exertion,
ultimately benevolent society, and so on.
"Being-in-itself and being-for-itself have mutually
exclusive characteristics and yet we (human reality) are entities that
combine both, which is the ontological root of our ambiguity. The
in-itself is solid, self-identical, passive and inert. It simply "is." The
for-itself is fluid, nonself-identical, and dynamic. It is the internal
negation or "nihilation" of the in-itself, on which it depends. Viewed
more concretely, this duality is cast as "facticity" and "transcendence."
The "givens" of our situation such as our language, our environment, our
previous choices and our very selves in their function as in-itself
constitute our facticity. As conscious individuals, we transcend (surpass)
this facticity in what constitutes our "situation." In other words, we are
always beings "in situation," but the precise mixture of transcendence and
facticity that forms any situation remains indeterminable, at least while
we are engaged in it. Hence Sartre concludes that we are always "more"
than our situation and that this is the ontological foundation of our
freedom. We are "condemned" to be free, in his hyperbolic phrase." http//plato.stanford.edu.org
The doctrine that there are no concepts, i.e., sortals and types in a mental language, but only natural-language words. It is argued for in Ockham. In Medieval philosophy it is opposed to realism, which then was the belief that concepts were real mental contents. Platonism is the belief that concepts exist outside of mind.
"Non-contradiction, principle (or law) of. The principle or law the acceptance of which commits one to holding that for any statement p, the statement `p and not-p' is false as a matter of logical necessity." (Flew)
Non-reducibility refers to propositions, such as axioms, which can be described as being primary or atomic.
The conventions of the novel are: (1) characters; (2) plot; (3) logic; (4) grammar; (5) unitary point of view. Quijote
has them all. Proust uses them all. Joyce tries to do away with 5. Burroughs does away with
1 and 2. Becket also does away with 1 and 2. Pinget actually tries to do away additionally with logic. Pynchon is in the minus 1 and 2 tradition. The plot convention includes: (1) beginning and end; (2) successiveness; (3) same central characters; (4) related themes or subjects. Novels are about events, often involving peripateia. To Cervantes is often attributed the creation of the genre with his Don Quijote.
Yet the Satyrison also has those properties. The difference seems to lie in that in the novel the perspective on motivation and psychology is in general deeper and wider than in
a pure narrative. Or perhaps Don Quijote was just a revival of the Satyricon in modern times.
There was a debate between Frege and Russell about the nature of numbers, with Frege claiming they were concepts and Russell that they were types.
Numbers are in fact signs, as we shall argue here.
Symbols can be analogical or arbitrary/conventional. Signs entail readability or interpretability. Symbols are meaningful independently of their use as symbols. Numbers are not arbitrary. In fact, numbers are pictographic in origin. This is self-evident in cuneiform, almost self-evident in Roman numerals, and very likely pictographic also in Arabic, which is the basis of our own numerical writing. Since there is nothing arbitrary or conventional about pictographs, "basic" numbers must be signs, although most numbers in any system are probably conventional. Numbers include or entail logical relations, even though it is not possible to derive arithmetic from purely logical principles. Numbers are empirical in origin. Since numbers are the basis of arithmetic, the latter is certainly not innate as logic has to be. It may very well be that we use numbers without doing a course on math, but we are certainly applying logic long before we are making calculations. Numbers are not meaningful in themselves so they are signs.
If numbers were per se meaningful, the different forms of sequencing a large figure such as a telephone number would be of no consequence. Take the telephone number 5551212. It is not the same if you give it to me in these different sequences: 5-5-5-1-2-1-2, or 555 1,212, or 5,551,212, or 5,551 212, and so on. I can get used to any of these different sequences and immediately identify the reference of numbers if given in that sequence, but it will require a cognitive process different from number recognition alone. This being the case numbers cannot be by themselves meaningful.
Mental events such as perception are meaningful complexes in themselves. They do not require a deliberate cognitive process. We do not bind sensations "by hand" before we recognize a scene. It all happens in the mind according to a complex, subliminal process. Numbers in large sequences are also complex, but they are not in themselves meaningful. We do not compose perception, but we do have to undertake certain operations to realize that 5-5-5-1-2-1-2 is the same number as 5,551,212. Therefore, since they are not meaningful in themselves and require a "reading", then numbers must be signs. Numbers are signs that can yield types or classes. It is not the same if I hear or read the word abracadabra or if it is given to me as a-b-r-a-c-a-d-a-b-r-a. Words are not meaningful in themselves the way propositions are meaningful in themselves or mental symbols (squiggles) are meaningful in themselves. Therefore, words are signs.