May 31, 2006

O FOR 4 (via Tom Morin)

Freud Lives! (Slavoj Zizek, 5/25/06, London Review of Books)

In recent years, it’s often been said that psychoanalysis is dead. New advances in the brain sciences have finally put it where it belongs, alongside religious confessors and dream-readers in the lumber-room of pre-scientific obscurantist searches for hidden meaning. As Todd Dufresne put it, no figure in the history of human thought was more wrong about all the fundamentals – with the exception of Marx, some would add. The Black Book of Communism was followed last year by the Black Book of Psychoanalysis, which listed all the theoretical mistakes and instances of clinical fraud perpetrated by Freud and his followers. In this way, at least, the profound solidarity of Marxism and psychoanalysis is now there for all to see.

A century ago, Freud included psychoanalysis as one of what he described as the three ‘narcissistic illnesses’. First, Copernicus demonstrated that the Earth moves around the Sun, thereby depriving humans of their central place in the universe. Then Darwin demonstrated that we are the product of evolution, thereby depriving us of our privileged place among living beings. Finally, by making clear the predominant role of the unconscious in psychic processes, Freud showed that the ego is not master even in its own house. Today, scientific breakthroughs seem to bring further humiliation: the mind is merely a machine for data-processing, our sense of freedom and autonomy merely a ‘user’s illusion’. In comparison, the conclusions of psychoanalysis seem rather conservative.

It's no coincidence that Copernicus and Darwin turned out to be just as fundamentally mistaken as Marx and Freud.

-REVIEW: of Mind: A Brief Introduction by John R. Searle (Maria Antonietta Perna, Ph.D. on May 23rd 2006, Metapsychology Online)

Granted, as an introductory text Mind: A Brief Introduction might be said to be particularly brief. However, if Searle keeps his introduction brief, this is because the present book does much more than introducing the reader to a fascinating philosophical subject in clear and accessible language. What Searle aims to do is far more ambitious: along the lines of his previous publications on the philosophy of mind, especially those dealing with consciousness and language, he argues for a radical break with the entire post-Cartesian tradition and its conceptual framework in which the entire discipline is steeped. In fact, it is the main thesis of the book as stated in the Preface that

the philosophy of mind is unique among contemporary philosophical subjects, in that all of the most famous and influential theories are false (p.1).

By 'theories' Searle means all kinds of dualist positions as well as the various existing materialist approaches.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 31, 2006 8:03 PM

And your wise men don't know how it feels to be thick as a brick.

Posted by: ghostcat at May 31, 2006 9:32 PM

And how do you feel about that?

Any dreams about your mother?

Posted by: Sandy P at June 1, 2006 1:54 AM

Excellent riposte Sandy.

Posted by: erp at June 1, 2006 9:17 AM

I don't get it.

Posted by: ghostcat at June 1, 2006 1:50 PM

ghostcat, understandable, so few men do.

Posted by: erp at June 1, 2006 4:16 PM

Now THAT is an excellent riposte. (I was going to go off on an "empathy" tangent initially, but thought the other fellas might be offended.)

Posted by: ghostcat at June 1, 2006 6:27 PM

The other fellows wisely chose to give this one a wide berth.

ghostcat, nay ghostlion, you get full points for bravery. That's what we really want in our men. Leave empathy to us girls.

Posted by: erp at June 2, 2006 9:48 AM