We present counterexamples to the widespread assumption that Moorean sentences cannot be rationally asserted. We then explain why Moorean assertions of the sort we discuss do not incur the irrationality charge. Our argument involves an appeal to the dual-process theory of the mind and a contrast between the conditions for ascribing beliefs to oneself and the conditions for making assertions about independently existing states of affairs. We conclude by contrasting beliefs of the sort we discuss with the structurally similar but (...) rationally impermissible beliefs of certain psychiatric patients. (shrink)
Wrong beliefs, known by some as ‘alternative facts’, have proliferated lately in important areas of human life, including social, political, and public health domains. This can be and has been damaging. This brief article proposes an epistemological category classification of these wrong beliefs, with the following mappings: a) ‘No-Information’ marked by willful blindness produces ‘Empty Beliefs’; b) ‘Mis-Information’ yields ‘Mis(taken) Beliefs’; and c) ‘Dis-Information’ predicated on blatant distortions produces ‘Dis(torted) Beliefs’. This simple classification system, is perhaps epistemologically satisfying, and moreover (...) could have positive policy implications. (shrink)
Our approach is based on a tri-partite method of integrating psychodynamic hypotheses, cognitive subliminal processes, and psychophysiological alpha power measures. We present ten social phobic subjects with three individually selected groups of words representing unconscious conflict, conscious symptom experience, and Osgood Semantic negative valence words used as a control word group. The unconscious conflict and conscious symptom words, presented subliminally and supraliminally, act as primes preceding the conscious symptom and control words presented as supraliminal targets. With alpha power as a (...) marker of inhibitory brain activity, we show that unconscious conflict primes, only when presented subliminally, have a unique inhibitory effect on conscious symptom targets. This effect is absent when the unconscious conflict primes are presented supraliminally, or when the target is the control words. Unconscious conflict prime effects were found to correlate with a measure of repressiveness in a similar previous study (Shevrin et al., 1992, 1996). Conscious symptom primes have no inhibitory effect when presented subliminally. Inhibitory effects with conscious symptom primes are present, but only when the primes are supraliminal, and they did not correlate with repressiveness in a previous study (Shevrin et al., 1992, 1996). We conclude that while the inhibition following supraliminal conscious symptom primes is due to conscious threat bias, the inhibition following subliminal unconscious conflict primes provides a neurological blueprint for dynamic repression: it is only activated subliminally by an individual's unconscious conflict and has an inhibitory effect specific only to the conscious symptom. These novel findings constitute neuroscientific evidence for the psychoanalytic concepts of unconscious conflict and repression, while extending neuroscience theory and methods into the realm of personal, psychological meaning. (shrink)
Freud proposes that in unconscious processing, logical connections are also (heavily) based upon phonological similarities. Repressed concerns, for example, would also be expressed by way of phonologic ambiguity. In order to investigate a possible unconscious influence of phonological similarity, 31 participants were submitted to a tachistoscopic subliminal priming experiment, with prime and target presented at 1ms. In the experimental condition, the prime and one of the 2 targets were phonological reversed forms of each other, though graphemically dissimilar (e.g., “nice” and (...) “sign”); in the control condition the targets were pseudo-randomly attributed to primes to which they don’t belong. The experimental task was to “blindly” pick the choice most similar to the prime. ERPs were measured with a focus on the N320, which is known to react selectively to phonological mismatch in supraliminal visual word presentations. The N320 amplitude-effects at the electrodes on the midline and at the left of the brain significantly predicted the participants’ net behavioral choices more than half a second later, while their subjective experience is one of arbitrariness. Moreover, the social desirability score (SDS) significantly correlates with both the behavioral and the N320 brain responses of the participants. It is proposed that in participants with low SDS the phonological target induces an expected reduction of N320 and this increases their probability to pick this target. In contrast, high defensive participants have a perplexed brain reaction upon the phonological target, with a negatively peaking N320 as compared to control and this leads them to avoid this target more often. Social desirability, which is understood as reflecting defensiveness, might also manifest itself as a defense against the (energy-consuming) ambiguity of language. The specificity of this study is that all of this is happening totally out of awareness and at the level of very elementary linguistic distinctions. (shrink)
Just what sort of a theory is psychoanalytic theory? -- Did Kant precede Freud on a-rational thought? -- Why primary process is hard to know -- Representational a-rational thinking : a proper function account for phantasy and wish -- Drive theory and primary process -- Phantasies, neurotic-beliefs, and beliefs-proper -- Desire and the readiness-to-act -- Compare and contrast : Gardner, Lear, Cavell, and Brakel.
In this volume, Brakel raises questions about conventions in the study of mind in three disciplines—psychoanalysis, philosophy of mind, and experimental philosophy. She illuminates new understandings of the mind through interdisciplinary challenges to views long-accepted. Here she proposes a view of psychoanalysis as a treatment that owes its successes largely to its biological nature—biological in its capacity to best approximate the extinction of problems arising owing to aversive conditioning. She also discusses whether or not "the mental" can have any real (...) ontological standing, arguing that a form of reductive physicalism can be sufficient ontologically, but that epistemological considerations require a branch of non-reductive physicalism. She then notes the positive implications of this view for psychiatry and psychoanalysis, Finally, she investigates the role of "consistency" in method and content, toward which experimental philosophers strive. In essence, Brakel articulates the different sets of challenges pertaining to: a) ancient dilemmas such as the mind/body problem; b) longstanding debates about the nature of therapeutic action in psychoanalysis; and c) new core questions arising in the relatively young discipline of experimental philosophy. (shrink)
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:Could Understanding Harm?Iskra Fileva, PhD (bio) and Linda A.W. Brakel, MD (bio)We would like to thank the editors for organizing this symposium and our commentators—Marga Reimer and James Phillips—for the thought-provoking feedback. Although we had thought about the ideas we discuss from many different angles, our commentators raised several interesting issues we had not considered. We are grateful for the opportunity to continue the conversation.Reply to ReimerAs Professor Reimer (...) notes, we advocate an approach to self-constitution that we dub “understanding first.” On this approach, non-moral and non-normative understanding of the origin of maladaptive traits must precede moral evaluation and attempts to free oneself—or as we say “prune”—undesirable traits. Professor Reimer presents several interesting cases meant both to extend and test the limits of our proposal. We appreciate this approach and respond to each case in turn.Genes and AlcoholismSuppose Alejandro, an adult raised by adoptive parents, struggles with alcohol addiction. He learns that his biological parents died of alcoholic liver disease and comes to believe that his alcohol problem is caused by a genetic propensity toward alcohol abuse. One can ask: “Does an understanding first approach have the potential to undermine the sense of agency that is necessary for the effective treatment of maladaptive traits?”Answer: It can be explained to Alejandro that genetic proclivities are just that—proclivities—that can be overridden. In fact, behavior can alter our very genes—although not at the sequence level— changes known as “epigenetic.” And the liver disease of the biological parents can serve as a cautionary tale. If even in light of these considerations, Alejandro’s tendency to see genetic propensities as deterministic persists, it is worth asking why. There is no evidence that “genes are destiny,” so the disposition to see them that way must have a psychological explanation. What is the explanation? A self-destructive desire? Fear of freedom? This exploration can itself be empowering. [End Page 211]Adaptive ForgettingSuppose Beata, who has an eating disorder, was molested by her own father when she was a child. Subsequently, her father shot himself and now she has no recollection of the molestation. However, Beata’s eating disorder is largely a result of those experiences. It is quite possible that if Beata were to recall being molested, that would do more harm than good. In this connection, one can ask together with Reimer: “Does an understanding first approach have the potential to undermine an adaptive ‘forgetting’ of root causes of maladaptive traits?”Answer: Here, understanding the history, instead of forgetting it, might allow Beata to gain insight into and empathize with possible motives that may have led to becoming obese. For example, she might have the phantasy that if she had been obese and unattractive, she could have prevented the molestation—hence, become that way now to prevent it from happening again, and more wishfully reverse it. (In unconscious goings-on time is thought to be in the “unexamined present” (Brakel 2009, p. 63; 2015, p. 131; 2022, p. 4; 2023, p. 404.) One benefit of this is that in gaining this type of recognition, Beata might find it easier to change her behavior that she otherwise would not have; it was never her responsibility to prevent her own molestation, and there is no reason whatsoever for her to now make herself unattractive to her deceased father, and very little reason to remain obese in an attempt to deter current day men.Ego-Syntonic Maladaptive TraitsClaire is a concert pianist and alcoholic. Importantly, Claire does not see her own desire for alcohol as destructive but rather, as something constitutive of her own identity. “I wouldn’t be myself without alcohol,” she says. Reimer asks whether our approach would “work for cases where the agent sees a maladaptive trait as constitutive of their identity?”Answer: Although no approach can guarantee success, our claim is that our approach has a better chance than the main alternative known as the pruning view. Since Claire, by stipulation, is not inclined to see her own drinking as a problem, a... (shrink)
In this commentary on Stanovich & West (S&W) we call attention to two points: (1) Freud's original dual process theory, which antedates others by some seventy-five years, deserves inclusion in any consideration of dual process theories. His concepts of primary and secondary processes (Systems 1 and 2, respectively) anticipate significant aspects of current dual process theories and provide an explanation for many of their characteristics. (2) System 1 is neither rational nor irrational, but instead a-rational. Nevertheless, both the a-rational System (...) 1 and the rational System 2 can each have different roles in enhancing evolutionary fitness. Lastly, System 1 operations are incorrectly deemed “rational” whenever they increase evolutionary fitness. (shrink)
In this paper, we criticize what we dub the “pruning view” of self-constitution, championed widely by philosophers, mainly though not exclusively in the Kantian tradition, and instead defend an alternative view inspired by psychoanalysis. We argue that normative assessment comes much too early on the pruning view, so early that it interferes with achieving deeper self-understanding that can produce lasting change. On the proposal we advocate, self-constitution must begin with a non-moralizing attempt to truly understand why one has undesirable and (...) unwanted propensities. We call this the “understanding first” principle. Only after deeper self-understanding has been achieved are attempts to liberate oneself from unwanted elements likely to succeed. (shrink)
The perennial interest in psychoanalysis shows no signs of abating and the longevity of psychoanalytic theory is seen in the varied extensions and elaborations of Freudian thinking in the fields of neuroscience and cognitive theory. Nevertheless, the scientific standing of psychoanalysis has long been questioned and developments in the fields of the philosophy of science and psychology require a fresh assessment of the scientific standing of psychoanalysis. While there are a range of views on the topic of whether psychoanalysis is (...) in fact scientific, any satisfactory approach to understanding mind and behaviour requires an approach that is at once both philosophic and scientific. Accordingly, to even approach the question regarding the scientific nature of psychoanalysis, a foundation comprising a sophisticated conceptual and philosophical framework is required. This volume represents the junction where philosophy, science, and psychoanalysis meet and presents arguments critical and supportive of the scientific standing of psychoanalysis. (shrink)
This book explores how the trans phenomenon can challenge the existing concept of the Self and its nature. The catalyst is Moore’s Paradox: can a trans person coherently state ‘I am a girl but I don’t believe that’? More deeply, three fundamental philosophical questions arise, of ontological, epistemological, and conceptual significance: what Self understands that the natal-gender is ‘wrong’? How does the trans person know that the natal-gender is ‘wrong’ and what counts as evidence? And finally, how does this effect (...) the concept of Self itself? Seeking answers, Brakel considers various theories of the Self, including classical accounts, modern views, and models developed by selected gender theorists. The book then takes a biological turn, first developing an evolutionary proper-function analysis of gender and trans-gender and subsequently proposing the possibility of a new ontological phenotype. With a review of cutting-edge neuroscientific research conducted over the last twenty-five years, Brakel propels this timely and important investigation toward the future, using experimental philosophy empirical studies adapted from classic thought experiments on the nature of the Self. (shrink)
Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, and the A-Rational Mind provides a powerful re-appraisal of psychoanalysis and the role it can play in helping us understand human nature. It explores basic psychological phenomena- beliefs, desires, phantasies, wishes - examining a range of fascinating case histories, and explaining their significance.
This paper presents a philosophical analysis of three cognitive states familiar and important to psychoanalysts—phantasy, neurotic-belief, and belief-proper. It explores the differences among these three propositional attitudes and finds that the development of secondary process capacities of reality testing and truth directness out of earlier primary process operations plays a crucial role. Difficulties in the proper typing of cognitive states are discussed, as are the consequences of such confounds. This use of a philosophical method serves to sharpen the familiar psychoanalytic (...) clinical concepts of phantasy and neurotic-belief. In addition, these same clinical concepts, once properly specified, have much to offer the philosophy of mind, where current understanding of representational cognitive states is restricted to those that are largely conscious and rational. When psychoanalytic concepts such as phantasy and neurotic-belief can be better integrated within the discipline of philosophy of mind, both philosophers and psychoanalysts will have a more complete and adequate theory of mind. (shrink)