Worlds of Experience Notes

Worlds of Experience Notes - WORLDS OF EXPERIENCE NOTES...

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WORLDS OF EXPERIENCE NOTES Cartesian Doctrine of the Isolated Mind: o o Pictures the mind as an objective entity that takes its place among other objects; a “thinking thing” that has an inside with contents & looks out on an external world from which it is separated from o Why has this doctrine maintained such a strong hold on thinkers in this field, despite the fact that it has been a hindrance to the development of psychoanalytic understanding? By holding on to the notion that each of us is a solitary, self-contained unit, we are specifically protected from an intolerable feeling of vulnerability to the human surround. It shields us from a sense of “the unbearable embeddedness of being,” that is, from an o It has been argued that the pervasive, reified image of the mind in isolation, in all of its many guises, is a form of defense that serves to reject human vulnerability & embeddedness Rene Descartes: o Followed a method of systematic doubt, progressively setting aside each of his convictions that could not be established as self-evidently true, until he finally arrived at the one that could be so established: “I think, therefore I am” o Believed that each of us is a mind, a thinking thing, a thing that is certain of its own existence but of nothing else; that the mind is a thing with an inside that enters into causal interaction with other physical entities o Believed that an isolated observer turns inward in the search for something o Descartes’ mother died when he was 13 months old, whereupon his father sent him to live with his maternal grandmother, along with his brother & sister. When he was 14, his grandmother died as well. Descartes was described as having had a persistent tendency toward melancholia & paranoia, linking this disposition to the loss of his mother, home, & to the later separation from & loss of his grandmother. Could these tragedies in his life have been the source of his lifelong need for something certain, something that would be absolutely solid & secure? In Descartes’ philosophy, certainty & security are found in the isolated workings of his own mind, envisioned as a rational, self-contained, self-sufficient entity o Descartes was a personal adviser, a confessor, and at times, a psychotherapist, to Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia. She suffered from an illness, which he thought was caused by “sadness.” He recommended a form of mental discipline in which the imagination is directed away from the reasons for distress & toward the “consideration of objects which could furnish contentment & joy,” thereby freeing her mind from all sad thoughts o Descartes had said that he inherited, from his mother, a “dry cough & a pale color” which stayed with him until he was in his mid-20s. But he 1
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This note was uploaded on 04/06/2008 for the course PSYCH 01:830:338 taught by Professor Atwood during the Spring '05 term at Rutgers.

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Worlds of Experience Notes - WORLDS OF EXPERIENCE NOTES...

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