Mon, 15 Dec 2003

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the illusion of "I"

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So I am reading Barbara Jane's New Blog and stumble upon this interesting Quizilla, Which 20th Century Theorist are you?. Now I know absolutely nothing about postmodern epistemological theory—the farthest I really got was existentialism, with a dash of postcolonialism and neo-Marxism thrown in simply because I'm a person-of-color who hung out with other people-of-color who actually understand this stuff. I only know Freud from negative example: no serious psychiatrist or behavioralist takes him seriously anymore, and modern psychiatry and cognitive development is pretty much built upon neuroscience and cognitive behavior.

And now I know why this is so. Thanks to the seeds planted by Jacques Lacan, there is now a mechanistic theory of how various non-conscious neural networks conspire to form a vast, nebulous "I" (that is, Freud's vaunted ego.) As work in molecular neuroscience progresses, we are more and more able to localize where in space these non-conscious neural networks exist, but the "I" circuit cannot be pinpointed, and a contingent of neuroscientists and psychiatrists are starting to believe that there is no "I" per se, that instead it is an emergent property of the interaction of these neural networks. (To reiterate a popular catch phrase, there are demons lurking in your skull. I'll try to eventually elucidate what that means, but not now.)

Which brings us somewhat tangentially to both artificial intelligence and the nature of psychosis and what this means about reality. But I will not go into all that right now.

Anyway, the Quizilla said I was this guy:

Lacan
You are Jacques Lacan! Arguably the most important
psychoanalyst since Freud, you never wrote
anything down, and the only works of yours are
transcriptions of your lectures. You are
notoriously difficult to understand, but at
least you didn't talk about the penis as much
as other psychoanalysts. You died in 1981.

What 20th Century Theorist are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

It mostly, for better or for worse, really does apply.

Calvin: I'm a misunderstood genius!
Hobbes: What's misunderstood about you?
Calvin: No one thinks I'm a genius!

Anyway.

18:29:45 15 Dec 2003 > /blog-bites > permalink > 14 comments

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