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PostSubject: The Unconscious Tue Mar 22, 2016 4:15 am

Conscious thought through the brain and body

Simple animals

Concerning a simple animal that has external and internal nerve endings and muscles: When its nerve endings are stimulated the muscles move in a preset way based on the exact nerves and force of the stimulation. A more advanced animal has a central nervous system, which is useful in that it can coordinate various sensations from all over its body to better determine what movements the muscles make. Concerning an animal advanced enough to have a brain encompassing or working alongside the central nervous system: Its brain contains memory, as an added element, which allows it to add another dimension to the way the central nervous system coordinates movement, but among the less advanced animals this memory is very short. The sophistication in various species varies regarding their coordination of memory and sensory input to determine muscle movement.

Advanced animals and conscious thought

There are animals for which we can say have the distinction between being conscious and unconscious. Those with such distinction can be contrasted between a state of sleep or resembling sleep, and an active state fully responsive to their environment. This distinction shouldn't be confused with the distinction between animals capable of conscious thought and those not. Animals with the former distinction are not necessarily capable of conscious thought.

The purpose of conscious thought is for advanced coordination involving both short and long term memory. The following is the process of conscious thought: The brain of an animal sends a signal to various muscles, internal and external, to move, generally in a slight manner, for no reason directly pertaining to the animal's environment. The sensation of the movement is sent back to the brain. This process repeats in various ways. Eventually, and often repeatedly, this process results in the brain sending signals to muscles to move in various ways for reasons pertaining to the animal's environment. This is a process similar to the aforementioned coordination done by the brain/central nervous system in simple interactions, but there's this extra element of the feedback between body and brain. This feedback is how thought can be in a way one would associate with the notion of experience.

The evolved brain versus the conception of a created brain

If one is misled by the idea of the brain being fundamentally an object for computation, one may be confused as to why this feedback system evolved. Keep in mind that the central nervous system, and in more advanced animals, the brain in general, evolved so closely to the animal's interactions with its environment that a computational brain, that can simply take data from its body/environment and then process it for any length of time before finally sending data back to the body, would not have had much of a chance to evolve. Furthermore, one may better understand the implausibility of such a type of brain when one considers how an animal relies on the fundamental sensations of pain/discomfort to help it decide how to react. Pain/discomfort being the ordering entity's sensation of disordering, where the ordering entity's fundamental goal is to order, one can see how all sensations of pain/discomfort are the fundamental criteria for deciding what actions to make.

One may consider that since memories are supposedly solely stored in memory cells in the brain, that when an animal is utilizing thought pertaining to longer term memories, it may not need such a feedback system between the body and brain. The issue relates to exactly what is contained in memory. Memory is of experience, first and foremost, and only in a secondary manner should be thought of as memory of things such as knowledge or facts. Even though experience may be measured simply in terms of nerve ending stimulation, the brain simply hasn't room nor energy to store an entire experience as pure cellular data. In recalling memories, which is a large part of thought, it must use data stored in the form of keys, and then use the interaction with the body, which is conscious thought, to do the actual recollection.  And of course, the more accurately it does what it can too reenact the past sensations (such as play the part as best it can even without the other environmental actors) the more accurate the recollection. But as said, the muscles are not provoked to move pertaining to the animal's environment, that would be too costly, and also misses the purpose of the recollection. The purpose being to reinterpret data, to coordinate it, to better decide on future actions.

Implications

It's useful to understand since in thinking the brain uses the body more than may have been previously clear, that the exact condition of the body is relevant to the ability of the brain to think. It's not just a matter of health, but in a more hypothetical sense, it's a matter of being. If two brains were to be switched among two bodies, body A and B, and then one were to rename the bodies to reflect the origin of their new brains, then neither A nor B would likely feel even close to at home, and this would be true even if the bodies were of the same dimensions, health, age, and neither person had a chance to interact with others or look in a mirror after the transplant. The intricate details of the internal form of the body based both on normal development (more closely relating to gene-type) and based on unique experiences (phenotype) would likely be different enough to make the experience of simple thought very different, if not making thought incoherent.

Exertions, and over exertions, that take place overtly in our environment leave a lasting trace on our muscle throughout our lives, as manifested by their performance. Likely, the less obvious (from an external standpoint) exertions, and over exertions, of our muscles when thinking leave a lasting trace, as manifested through our performance when thinking. But, not just in a matter of sheer ability, such as speed, strength and durability. They certainly contain their fundamental form (gene-type) as the brain has always drawn on when interacting with it, but they may also actually contain memories in a sense. As the memories in our brains are individual keys, so to might are our muscles be individual corresponding locks for those keys.
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PostSubject: Re: The Unconscious Thu May 19, 2016 11:03 pm

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

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PostSubject: Re: The Unconscious Sat Nov 12, 2016 12:29 pm

Angus Nicholls' [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] is a very useful book on the development of the Concept of the unconscious between enlightenment classicism and romanticism.

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: The Unconscious Sat Nov 12, 2016 12:31 pm

A chronological journey – from Schelling, the late Goethe, and romanticism, via Schopenhauer, Carl Gustav Carus, Eduard von Hartmann, Gustav Theodor Fechner, to Nietzsche and Freud – through the concept of the unconscious in nineteenth-century German thought.

Angus Nicholls wrote:
""Nature! We are surrounded and embraced by her – powerless to leave her and powerless to enter her more deeply. Unasked and without warning she sweeps us away in the round of her dance and dances on until we fall exhausted from her arms. She brings forth ever new forms: what is there, never was; what was, never will return. All is new, and yet forever old. We live within her, and are strangers to her. She speaks perpetually with us, and does not betray her secret."

Thus begins, in what could be read as a vivid evocation of the intertwining of the twin forces of Eros and Thanatos, the fragmentary text “On Nature,” the text – allegedly written by Goethe – that made Freud, or so he later claimed, decide to study, not law, but medicine, after he had heard it read at a public lecture by Carl Brühl (1820–99).

As its name suggests, the movement known in the English-speaking world as the Storm and Stress – also called pré-romantisme, associated with the idea of “sensibility” (Empfindsamkeit), and active in the period of the “age of genius” or Geniezeit of the 1770s – was not so much a program as an attitude, a state of mind, or (in the eyes of its critics) a pathology. Coinciding chronologically with the later phases of the Enlightenment, it represented its antipode: by questioning the primacy of reason, by emphasizing the non-rational emotions of individual subjectivity, and by celebrating the relationship between humanity and nature, it anticipated, as the French term suggested, romanticism’s search for a reason beyond reason.

Weimar classicism is at least in part a reaction to and also a development of tendencies already found in the Storm and Stress.
Weimar classicism expressed the need once again to bring subjectivity and genius within formal bounds derived from the aesthetic models of the ancients.
For the Weimar classicism of Schiller, the unconscious inspiration of the genius is, in and of itself, insufficient for the production of great and morally instructive works of art: such inspiration must also, Schiller thought, be accompanied by self-reflection and the capacity to bring such emotions within clear, formal boundaries. Thus, while the Storm and Stress had valorized the breaking of psychological, aesthetic, and perhaps even social boundaries, Weimar classicism called for their at least partial reinstitution, leading Goethe famously to declare late in his life – in a polemical remark directed against some of his German romantic contemporaries – that while classicism is health, romanticism is sickness.

Both Goethe and Freud were aware that pleasure is fleeting and transient, and both recognized that one of the deepest human desires is to secure and retain pleasure at all costs, in spite of time and decay. The view that this desire to sustain pleasure over time is often unconscious and irrational, the idea that such desire should be channeled and redirected in useful and socially acceptable ways, and the notion that the ontological basis of this unconscious desire inheres in a materialist, yet non-reductionist, understanding of nature, constitute central features of the Storm and Stress and German classicism that persist, sometimes in a subterranean or unacknowledged form, in the work of Freud.

Countless remarks by Goethe about the unconscious – “what the genius, as a genius, does happens unconsciously”; “human beings can- not remain long in a conscious state, they are compelled to return to the unconscious, for that is where our roots lie”; and “all our most sin- cere striving / succeeds only in the unconscious moment” – do not amount to a systematic theory of the unconscious, yet clearly acknow- ledge its significance. Just as the Storm and Stress (in its emphasis upon unrestrained subjectivity and emotion) and German classicism (in its attempts to bring such subjectivity within formal bounds) outline opposed, yet interrelated, ways of viewing life, so too do the irrationalism of the Storm and Stress and classicism’s struggle to give Gestalt or form to one’s experience arguably inform psychoanalysis. The roots of these ideas lie ultimately not in the eighteenth, but rather in the seventeenth century.

By emphasizing the primacy of the cogito, of rational thought, of “clear” and “distinct” ideas, René Descartes (1596–1650) – a figure who, by common consent, stands at the beginning of the period called modernity – acknowledged and demarcated the existence of the oppos- ite: of “confused” and “obscure” ideas, for “all the properties we discover in the mind are only diverse modes of thinking” (omnia, quae in mente reperimus, sunt tantum diversi modi cogitandi). But then, long before Descartes, Augustine (354–430) had urged his listeners and readers to search within themselves – “Go not outside, return into thyself: truth dwells in the inner Man” (noli foras ire, in teipsum redi; in interiore hom- ine habitat veritas), which presupposed there was something there to find:

“For what is so much in the mind as the mind? ... Let the mind know itself, and not seek itself as though it were absent.”

Whereas Augustine’s theological premise involved the belief in the soul, and philo- sophical researches concentrated on the problem of memory and time, the modernity of Descartes lay in his promotion of consciousness to a position of supremacy, in effect identifying the soul and consciousness. This step is extremely significant, as Friedrich Seifert has argued, for if consciousness (cogitatio) constitutes the essence or the nature of the soul (essentia sive natura animae), then all of those rich and various psychic functions attributed to the soul become correspondingly downgraded, ignored, or repressed. No longer the “divine spark” within the individual human being, the ego – the subject of the cogito – becomes a mere mathe- matical point, and consciousness is no longer an object in itself, but that for which something else is an object.

Descartes’ purely formal conception of consciousness is a significant shift away from the ancient conception of the soul as είδος (eidos), or as forma substantialis, and from this new position a path leads to Immanuel Kant’s conception of the “synthetic unity of consciousness,” or the “tran- scendental unity of apperception” – the idea that consciousness consists in a formal organization of preexisting categories of thought and sense data. But already prior to Kant, in the philosophy of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716), consciousness acquires – and thus, by implication, so does the unconscious – a new quality: it becomes dynamic. For Leibniz, “that which does not act does not merit the name of substance,” which means that “substance is a being capable of action.” By defining the soul or consciousness as a creative, energetic act – “the soul is active of itself” – Leibniz attributed similar dynamic qualities to those less clear, less distinct modes of perception he dubbed petites perceptions. In turn Kant would come to speak of these modes of perception as dunkle Vorstellungen or “obscure representations.” In a beautiful passage in his Principles of Nature and of Grace, founded on Reason (1714), Leibniz (in anticipation of Kant and his successors) evoked the entire range of possible conscious and unconscious perceptions with the following image:

"Each soul knows the infinite, knows everything, but confusedly. Just as when I am walking along the shore of the sea and hear the great noise it makes, though I hear the separate sounds of each wave of which the total sound is made up, I do not discriminate them one from another; so our confused perceptions are the result of the impressions which the whole universe makes on us."

As this passage (like others in Leibniz’s writings) makes clear, the categorization of thoughts and perceptions into “clear” and “distinct” on the one hand, or “obscure” and “confused” on the other, itself divides thought from sensation – and, ultimately, the mind from the body – in a way that stands completely at odds with our everyday experience. Rather than refining even further the conceptual apparatus developed by Leibniz, his chief follower, Christian Wolff (1679–1754), conceived psychology, not just as “rational psychology” – as “the science of whatever is pos- sible through the human soul”– but also as “empirical psychology.”

This empirical approach drew on such English thinkers as Francis Bacon (1561–1626) and Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679), from whom a line of English and Scottish thought stretches, via John Locke (1632–1704), David Hume (1711–76), and David Hartley (1705–57), to James Mill (1773–1836), J. S. Mill (1806–73), and Alexander Bain (1818–1903). Within this tradition of thought, the workings of the psyche should be approached just as any other scientific subject should be…

In the twelfth of his Letters on the Sensations (Briefe über die Empfindungen, 1755), the German philosopher Moses Mendelssohn (1729–86) developed the idea of an interchange or Wechselwirkung between the soul and the body.32 This proved to be a fruitful notion: in his Hamburg Dramaturgy (Hamburgische Dramaturgie, 1767), the great German dramatist, writer and critic Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729–81) discussed how the mimetic skills of the actor enabled a change of “soul” to bring about a change in his “body.”

And similar ideas were common currency in the eighteenth century: Christian Garve (1742–98), the translator of Adam Ferguson (1723–1816) into German, for example, argued that the pas- sions of the soul produce corresponding passions in the body; Georg Stahl (1660–1734), who conceived of the human body, not as some sort of Cartesian machine, but as an organism animated by a kind of vital principle, variously called activitas vitalis, agens vitale, or energia vitale, argued that the soul “builds” the body; and Albrecht von Haller (1708–77), the author of the influential didactic poem The Alps (Die Alpen, written 1729, published 1732), explored the expression of various passions in the body. Thanks to Jakob Friedrich Abel (1751–1829), the author of Introduction to Psychology (Einleitung in die Seelenlehre, 1786) and On the Sources of Human Representations (Über die Quellen der menschlichen Vorstellungen, 1787) and a teacher of philosophy at the Hohe Karlsschule, the contemporary debate in general and the work of Garve, Haller, and Stahl in particular became mediated to a pupil at this school: the young Friedrich Schiller.

According to Schiller’s medical dissertation, “an admirable law of supreme wisdom” dictates “that very noble and loving emotion enhances the beauty of the body, whereas base and hateful ones produce bestial distortions,” thus bearing witness to the principle, first articulated by Aristotle, and turned into a commonplace by Sallust, that attaches pri- ority to the psychological over the physiological; or, in other words, “the soul shapes the body” (die Seele bildet den Körper).

In “On Grace and Dignity” Schiller reformulates this principle enunciated in his medical treatise when he writes that “finally mind even constructs itself a body and the form itself must join the play.” Schiller then extends this principle to all movements when he says that “an active spirit gains influence over all physical movement and finally comes indirectly to the point of changing even the set forms of nature, which are not accessible to the will, through the power of sympathetic play.” “In such a human being,” Schiller adds, “everything comes down to character,” leading him to conclude that “one is very right in saying that in such a form, everything is soul”.

In contrast to Schelling, Schiller declared that “unconsciousness combined with reflection constitutes the poetic artist,” thus locating the unconscious at the heart of his conception, but also – and now more clas- sically – giving equal status to ratio.
Schiller’s earlier dictum that “the soul shapes the body” reflects the increasing awareness in the course of the late eighteenth century that the unconscious can exercise a somatic influence – the core idea behind what psychoanalysis calls a “symptom.”  For Johann Gottfried Herder (1744–1803), philology – another rapidly developing science at the time – suggested that the motor of human history, human civilization, and human progress, was itself something primordial and irrational: language. In Herder’s view, “language was an unconscious collective growth,” rising spontaneously from the people (Volk), and from the soil.

Herder’s “vitalistic understanding of nature and of human nature in particular,” as Lewis W. Spitz describes it, involved an important focus on the body. In his Sculpture (Plastik, 1778) Herder emphasized how, in the aesthetic experience, all of the senses work together, so that “the eye is only the initial guide, the reason of the hand; the hand alone reveals the forms of things, their concepts, what they mean, what dwells therein.” And another new science of the eighteenth century, aesthetics, founded by Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten (1714–62) in his Aesthetica (vol. I, 1750), aimed to investigate and thus, in a sense, to rehabilitate precisely those sensations excluded from the (neo-)Platonic dualism of Cartesian rationality: “aesthetics (the theory of the free arts, epistemology of the lower senses, the art of beautiful thought, and the art of the analogue of reason),” said Baumgarten, is “the science of sensory knowledge.” In the second half of the eighteenth century, then, the unconscious becomes something bodily, something dynamic, and something vitalist." [Thinking the Unconscious]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*


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PostSubject: Re: The Unconscious Sat Nov 12, 2016 12:38 pm

Freud's Goethean legacy.


Angus Nicholls wrote:
"On the Epicurean side of Freud, we have the importance he attaches to Eros, to the pleasure principle, to bodily needs, and to the satisfaction of the id which, if repressed, will merely return. During a discussion at the Viennese Psychoanalytic Society, Freud even advocated the return to an educational institution prominent in the age of antiquity – “the creation of a love academy, where the arts of love would be taught.” And on the Stoic side, there is Freud’s recognition that happiness is necessarily limited (not least, because of the demands of the super-ego). As he put it in Studies on Hysteria (Studien über Hysterie, 1895), in response to the objection raised by a hypothetical patient that psychological illness is connected with circumstances and events of life that cannot be altered:

"no doubt fate would find it easier than I do to relieve you of your illness. But you will be able to convince yourself that much will be gained if we succeed in transforming your hysterical misery into common unhappiness."

To this, Freud added the typical remark that, “with a mental life that has been restored to health, you will be better armed against that unhappiness.”

Freud’s Stoic-Epicurean principles are informed by his materialist outlook, and his subterranean connection with the Storm and Stress and, in turn, with Weimar classicism lies in his acceptance of similar materialist principles as those embraced by Goethe. Evidence of those materialist principles can be found in Goethe’s “Ephemerides” of 1770, a kind of notebook-summary of his early philosophical- cum-scientific-cum-literary interests. The “Ephemerides” contains a text, written in Latin, which has been described as nothing less than Goethe’s “credo,” and which paraphrases a passage from the German philologist Johann Albert Fabricius (1668–1736) on the philosophy of Spinoza, stating:

To speak separately of God and of nature is as difficult and as delicate as thinking of the body and the soul as separate entities. We know the soul only through the body; we know God only through nature.

This phrase anticipates Goethe’s later commentary to Chancellor von Müller on his (or Tobler’s) aphoristic essay “On Nature”:

The missing capstone is the perception of the two great driving forces in all nature: the concepts of polarity and intensification, the former a property of matter insofar as we think of it as material, the latter insofar as we think of it as spiritual.

Now something resembling these two great driving forces recurs again in Freud’s later thinking, in the form of love or Eros, which seeks to bind more tightly together, and Thanatos (the death-drive or Todestrieb), which seeks to pull further apart.98 And these drives are at work in all aspects of the human being – physiologically, inasmuch as we think of the human being as body; and psychologically, inasmuch as we think of the human being as psyche.

Indeed, Goethe’s “Ephemerides” is, in important respects, comparable with Freud’s “Project for a Scientific Psychology” (Entwurf einer Psychologie) of 1895.

Freud’s earliest scientific work was into nerve cells, involving experiments on crayfish and crabs, and later eels. His psychoanalytic theory makes exten- sive use of mechanistic, hydraulic metaphors: repression, de-repression, libidinal flow, and so on.Yet these images of flux and flow begin to move Freud’s materialism away from the mechanistic models of French eighteenth-century materialism (not to mention the Germanic tradition of Helmholtz, Du Bois-Reymond, and Brücke) and towards a more vitalist conception, such as the one embraced by Feuerbach, who wrote in his 1837 study of Leibniz:

Blocks of stone and logs are not true types of the concept of matter. The true essence of matter, its idea, exists in the animal, in the human being as sensuousness, drives, desire, passion, as the lack of freedom and as confusion.   Freud maintained his insistence on the vitalist-materialist aspect of psychoanalysis, writing, for example, in the posthumously published “An Outline of Psychoanalysis” (“Abriß der Psychoanalyse,” 1940) that “the phenomena with which we were dealing do not belong to psychology alone; they have an organic and biological side as well.”

Similarly, in another of his lectures, Freud emphasized that “the sexual function is not a purely psychical thing any more than it is a purely somatic one,” for “it influences bodily and mental life alike.” He went on to conclude that

"if in the symptoms of the psychoneuroses ... we have become acquainted with manifestations of disturbances in the psychical operation of the sexual function, we shall not be surprised to find in the “actual” neuroses the direct somatic consequences of sexual disturbances."

And likewise, the Viennese-born psychoanalyst Ernst Kris (1900–57) records that Freud repeatedly spoke of the connection between psychological and biochemical processes as a field awaiting explanation, and always emphasized that the terminology of psychoanalysis was provisional, valid only until it could be replaced by physiological terminology.

So one of the reasons why Freud found Goethe so compelling was because he saw in the fragment “On Nature” a vision of nature that is material- ist, but not reductionist. What links them, and what underpins their view of the dialectic of time and pleasure, is this shared materialist outlook. Thus the notion of the unconscious that emerges from Goethe and Freud alike is one that is conceived as essentially desiring and pleasure-seeking, one might even say: as hedonist. To put it another way, in the aphoristic essay “On Nature” we also find an anticipation of Freud’s concept of the unconscious as an account of our inner nature.This idea of “inner nature” is one explicitly foregrounded by Freud, who speaks in Civilization and Its Discontents (Das Unbehagen in der Kultur, 1930) about “a piece of unconquerable nature” (ein Stück der unbesiegbaren Natur) forming part of our psychic constitution. Although the phrase is originally found in Jung – another psychoanalyst inspired by Goethe, and who wrote in his paper “Psychological Types” (“Psychologische Typen,” 1923) that “the unconscious is the residue of unconquered nature in us, just as it is also the matrix of our unborn future” – it crops up time and again in the thinking of the first and second generations of the Frankfurt School, where it is always attributed to Freud.
Adorno is in the end very similar to Heidegger as regards his position on the theoretical claims of objectivating thought and of reflection: the mindfulness [Eingedenken] of nature comes shockingly close to the recollection [Andenken] of being.

According to Freud, psychoanalysis is a cure “effected by love”; and love, too, is the culmination of the vision in “On Nature”:

Her crown is love. Only through love do we come to her. She opens chasms between all beings, and each seeks to devour the other. She has set all apart to draw all together. With a few draughts from the cup of love she makes good a life full of toil.

Through promoting a materialist-vitalist understanding of the self, the concept of the unconscious-as-nature bequeathed to the nineteenth century by the Storm and Stress andWeimar classicism, preeminently in the person of Goethe – a concept which, as we have seen, is subsequently developed by Freud – has been one of the most important attempts in modern times to bring about healing." [Thinking the Unconscious]



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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*


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PostSubject: Re: The Unconscious Sat Nov 12, 2016 12:57 pm

Schelling and Kant.


Nicholls wrote:
"Transcendental” philosophy looks at the “conditions of possibility” of the scientific knowledge that is exemplified by Newton’s laws of motion.The question is how there could be a science of such conditions of possibility, if they are themselves the con- ditions of scientific knowledge: a regress of “conditions of conditions,” of the kind that results when one tries to trace the sequence of causes of any phenomenon, threatens, which would render knowledge impossible. There seems therefore to be a constitutive blind-spot at the heart of the subject’s self-awareness, and Kant’s arguments do not necessarily dispel this worry.

Von Hartmann makes the link of this issue to the unconscious evident in his discussion of Kant’s conception. In doing so he highlights the relationship between the “spontaneous” and the “receptive” aspects of cognition which is crucial to the renewed interest in Kant and German idealism in contemporary philosophy. This interest results from suspicion of models of cognition that rely on the idea that there is a source of direct evidence which furnishes epistemological reliability. Kant sees the spontaneous and the receptive as wholly separate sources of cognition (so already posing the question as to how they connect):

According to Kant the pure concepts of the understanding (categories) seem as though they ought to belong to unconscious representations, insofar as they lie  beyond cognition, which only becomes possible by the fact that a blind function of the soul spontaneously makes synthetic links between the given mani- fold of the perceived material of representation.

In order to overcome the difference between the never identical, contingent perceptual material given in receptivity, and the stable forms of identity (such as causality) brought to bear on that material by the spontaneity of the understanding, Kant has to introduce an intermediary between the two, which he terms the “schema”: this cannot itself be an object of knowledge, as it is part of what makes knowledge possible. The schema is required not just for the pure concepts, like causality and substance, but also for the application of empirical concepts: “This idea of a universal procedure of imagination to provide a concept with its image I call the schema to this concept. Indeed it is not images of the objects which underlie our purely sensuous concepts, but schemata.” Images will always differ, so there needs to be some form of apprehen- sion which enables us to understand different images as identical in cognitive terms.

Schelling suggests that “The schema ... is not an idea that is determined on all sides, but an intuition of the rule according to which a particular object can be produced,” e.g. the rule for seeing a bonsai and a red- wood as “trees.” Were this not to be an intuition of a rule, it would have to be a rule for a rule, which is the source of the kind of regress we saw threaten Kant’s conception above. Schematism, for Kant, is – and here the link to the idea of the unconscious becomes explicit – the “hidden art in the depths of the human soul” which connects the spontaneous and the receptive sides of cognition. We cannot be conscious of schematism doing its work because in order for what we are aware of to be intelligible at all, schematism must always already be in play to organize the contingency of what we apprehend into something subsumable into the identity provided by concepts. Heidegger thinks this is the core of Kant’s epistemology because it suggests that cognition depends on a prior intelligibility which cannot itself be explained, being itself the condition of the possibility of explanation.

Schelling is seeking to reconcile what seem to be thoroughly contradictory alterna- tives, namely Fichte’s idealism, and Spinoza’s “realist” monism. He tries to negotiate a relationship between “transcendental philosophy,” which is concerned with the spontaneity of the I as the principle of the world’s intelligibility, and what he, from his work of the second half of the 1790s onwards, termed Naturphilosophie. The latter seeks to explain how the intelligibility made possible by the I emerges from a nature bound by deterministic laws, while ensuring that there is no Cartesian split of mind and nature: “one can push as many transitory materials as one wants, which become finer and finer, between mind and matter, but some- time the point must come where mind and matter are One, or where the great leap that we so long wished to avoid becomes inevitable.” His approach in the STI was suggested by the discussion of the idea of “activity” above: in the Naturphilosophie the “activity” of nature, via which it develops from inanimate matter into living self-conscious organisms, is in some sense identical with the activity of thought which apprehends an intelligible world rather than a mere chaos of sensations. There is, therefore, “nothing impossible in the thought that the same activity via which nature reproduces itself at every moment anew is reproductive in thought but via the medium of the organism.”

Transcendental philosophy depends on the ability of thought to reflect upon itself, and thus seeks to objectify the spontaneous activity of subjectivity. The problem is that philosophy can only look at thought in “reflection,” i.e. in terms of a subject-object structure, but in doing so it always already has to employ what it is looking at, namely the activity of thought. It therefore constitutively misses what it is seeking, because it cannot attain an external perspective on it.

Novalis sums up a key problem with regard to schematism’s relationship to self-consciousness as follows: “Can I look for a schema for myself, if I am that which schematises?” How do we describe the act of seeing the act of seeing? The very idea of doing so leads to a regress, but there is no doubt that we do “see” the world – in the sense that we “apprehend the world as intelligible.” Schelling’s use of the term “intuition” is the key here. Anschauung is the word Kant uses for the unconceptualized material of receptivity, which means that it is not knowledge, knowledge taking the form of judgments that “x” is the case, based on the identifying of intuitions by subsuming them under a rule. “Intuition” is, though, often employed at this time in the wider sense of a direct connection between mind and world. The crucial aspect of this sense of intuition is that the connection is not conceptual. It therefore does not come into the domain of knowledge, and so avoids the problems entailed by reflec- tion on knowledge that we have just encountered. In many respects the differences within German idealism revolve around the status of what belongs to “intuition,” rather than to knowledge, and ideas about the unconscious differ according to the status attributed to intuition.

Kant’s reference to schematism as an “art” indicates a change in the understanding of some key issues in the later part of the eighteenth century. “Art” can, following from the Greek, simply mean techné, in the sense of an ability to do something, but it also begins at this time to take on the sense, later employed by Schleiermacher, of “production which is not governable by rules.” “Art” therefore has to do with what takes us beyond nature qua deterministic system to the question of the interface of nature and consciousness. Whereas material nature can be seen as governed by necessary laws, our ability to apprehend such laws, and our

This is precisely because knowledge requires “spontaneity,” that which is “cause of itself,” which makes possible the connections of intuitions in judgments. Were the operations of the understanding not spontaneous, they would be caused like everything else in nature. Explaining how we could know that this is the case would then be impossible. The result would be the kind of regress that made the intelligibility which allows the understanding of a cause as a cause, rather than it just being reacted to in the way animals do when they respond to their environment, incomprehensible. The problem which comes to haunt German idealism is that freedom for Kant is itself not an object of knowledge – that can only be what is given in perception and subsumed under a concept – and this will leave open the path to connecting the idea of freedom to the unconscious which is implicit in Hartmann’s view of Kantian spontaneity.The core issue is how to conceive of nature if it is governed by determinism and yet produces self-determining beings who can both take their own stance on knowledge of the nature which has produced them and respond to their existence in expressive ways which cannot be reduced to a cognitive account of those ways.

In these terms what produces consciousness must itself initially be unconscious. How, then, is one to explain the move from nature understood as a deterministic system to it being the source of consciousness and freedom? Schelling sees this move in terms of nature “coming to itself,” which means it has both to be “apart from itself” when it does not yet know itself, and yet still be “one,” in that it comes to itself.This might appear as a move from total opacity to total transparency, but things are not that simple. It should be clear from the problems in conceiving of this move why the issues here are still alive. The reductionist strand of contemporary naturalist philosophy, which thinks that issues to do with consciousness will turn out to be questions of neuroscience, argues that there is no such move, and that what is at issue will be explicable in terms of the causal functioning of the brain. The problem of this approach lies in explaining how it is that we are aware of this issue at all: the objective states of affairs which reductive naturalist philosophers invoke can only be seen as objective in relation to the judgments of a subject which can take a stance on what belongs to objectivity. This stance cannot itself claim to be objective in the same sense, because the very idea of objectivity depends on it. One side of German idealism can be characterized  by its claim that the prior aspect here is therefore the very possibility of taking a stance that involves responsibility for the commitments entailed by asserting one claim rather than another, including claims about the explanation of consciousness. Whilst it is arguable that the contemporary employment of German idealist ideas can indeed show the implausibility of reductionist naturalism, the complexities of the issue of freedom in Schelling can suggest problems in some versions of those ideas.

Jacobi saw the objective world in this sense as a world of regressing “conditioned conditions,” and as therefore lacking a basis for those conditions being manifest as conditions. The sense that the world seen purely in terms of one thing conditioning another is meaningless leads to what Jacobi terms “nihilism.” An understanding of the “unconditioned” that would overcome the problem of nihilism is what Schelling and the other German idealists are seeking, and this is part of what led Fichte to the idea of the “absolute,” unconditioned, “I”.

German idealism’s unstable reputation, which led to it being rejected from the 1840s onwards by the “Young Hegelians” like Feuerbach and the early Marx, and ignored or dismissed by most analytical philosophers for most of the twentieth century, has a lot to do with the more extreme claims Fichte and Hegel in particular can be construed as making. Fichte, for example, takes the idea that the world would be simply opaque without the spontaneity of thought as a reason for regarding the spontaneity of the I as the ground of philosophy, so that “freedom” is the basis of the world’s intelligibility.

In the view of nature linked to the aesthetic tradition, as Charles Taylor puts it: “There is something more in nature between full spontaneity and mere mechanism,” and this, as we have seen, is precisely the space of the unconscious." [Thinking the Unconscious]

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PostSubject: Re: The Unconscious Sat Nov 12, 2016 12:58 pm

Herder's Affekt.

Nicholls wrote:
"As early as 1764, with Herder’s Fragments of a Treatise on the Ode (Fragmente einer Abhandlung über die Ode), artistic production was associated with what Herder called Affekt:

Affect, which at the outset silently, encapsulated within, benumbed the entire body and surged as a dark feeling, gradually pervades all slight stirrings, until it finds expression in recognizable signs. It moves through the facial expressions and unarticulated sounds to the level of reason, where at last it seizes upon language, and here, too, through most subtle differentiation it loses itself at last in a clarity that gives it identity ... In affect one perceives the most com- prehensive sensuous unity without being able to bring it into correspondence with the intellect.


The genius is the figure who is best able to mediate between the natural force of Affekt and the rational requirements of linguistic expression. As Goethe wrote to Schiller in 1801, this is achieved unconsciously rather than consciously, since Goethe believed that “everything that the genius does as genius, occurs unconsciously” (alles was das Genie, als Genie, thut, unbewußt geschehe). This opinion is in line with the idea – found in both the early Goethe and in Herder, and inspired particularly by Herder’s aesthetic interpretation of the Dutch philosopher Benedict de Spinoza (1632–77) – that nature herself is in fact the artist, with the genius functioning as a kind of medium who renders forces in nature intelligible.

If, according to Spinoza in the Ethics, God is indistinguishable from extended substance, being the “immanent, and not the transitive cause of things,” and if, in the view of Herder, this means that God exists “everywhere in the world ... complete and inseparable,” then this would entail that the individual human being is part of a divinely- infused natural world in which divine forces may come to express them- selves through human subjectivity. Something resembling this view can be found in Goethe’s own consideration of Spinoza, his “Study after Spinoza” (Studie nach Spinoza) of 1785. Here Goethe argues that since every limited living being (eingeschränktes lebendigesWesen) is bound up with the infinity (Unendlichkeit) which is God or Nature, then it also partakes of this infinity, and has something infinite (etwas Unendliches) within itself.The genius is he who is able to express this sense of infinity located within the self, which Goethe associates with the term “sublime” (erhaben).Yet since this sense of infinity cannot be an object of our conscious thoughts (kann von uns nicht gedacht werden) then it follows that it remains to some degree unconscious." [Thinking the Unconscious]

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PostSubject: Re: The Unconscious Sat Nov 12, 2016 1:11 pm

Goethe.

Nicholls wrote:
"Goethe’s critique of Newton in the Theory of Color is seen, in the words of Helmholtz, as the tendentious and emotional attempt of an artist to “rescue the unmediated truth of sensuous impressions from the attacks of science.” Goethe’s polemic against Newton was, according to this argument, couched in aesthetic rather than scientific terms, in that he sought to protect the “pure” phenomena of light and color from the intrusions of Newton’s technical and conceptual apparatus. Accordingly, Helmholtz proposed that Newton’s step into the realm of conceptual physics and the corpuscular theory of light “scared the poet [i.e. Goethe] away.” Du Bois-Reymond’s assessment was rather less charitable: since, he argued, Goethe’s Theory of Color “completely departed from the concept of mechanical causality,” it amounted to little more than the “stillborn fiddling of an autodidactic dilettante.”

At the same time, however, both of these scientists thought that Goethe was more successful in the fields of morphology and comparative anatomy, but only because these types of empirical research enabled him to use techniques of observation – referred to as “unmediated intellectual intuition” (unmittelbare geistige Anschauung) by Helmholtz, and as “artistic intuition” (künstlerische Anschauung) by Du Bois-Reymond – that are also found in artistic practice. But on the level of scientific epistemology, Goethe is unequivocally condemned: Helmholtz alleges that Goethe either misunderstood or had insufficient patience for the ideas of Kant as they were allegedly mediated to him by Schiller, and associates Goethe’s epistemology with the philosophical systems of Schelling and Hegel, both of whom he sees as having falsely assumed that intellectual concepts are realized either in the organic developments of nature (Schelling), or in the progress of history (Hegel). As was his tendency, Du Bois-Reymond took this condemnation a step further, arguing that Goethe promoted the “delirium-potion” (Taumeltrank) of Naturphilosophie, which saw German science fall into an “aesthetic dreaminess” (ästhetische Träumerei) that hindered its development for decades. Nevertheless, this last and most trenchant of criticisms does not prevent Du Bois-Reymond from identifying the fate of Goethe (the poet, not the scientist!) with the heroic life-trajectory (Lebensgang) of the recently unified German nation, leading him dramatically to proclaim that “Deutschland ist Goethe.”

Emerging from Tobler’s discussions with Goethe during his stay in Weimar in 1780 and 1781, the fragment on nature offers, according to Goethe’s recollection in 1828, a reasonably accurate account of his pan- theistic, Spinoza-inspired view of nature. Humanity is seen as being conditioned by nature, but at the same time not privy to her deepest secrets. Nature is the All: she is both a mother and an artist who brings objects into being without any sign of effort, and who speaks through the tongues and hearts of her creatures. The task of the natural scientist is, we presume, to attempt to understand the secrets of nature, while at the same time recognizing that, since nature is one’s origin and mother, exhaustive and complete knowledge of her intentions is by definition impossible. Of course, the fact that “Goethe” (or Tobler) saw nature as having goals and intentions at all made the fragment extremely problem- atic from a Darwinian point of view. Since, however, both Ernst Haeckel and Friedrich Strauss had, in 1868 and 1871 respectively, tried to reconcile Goethe’s morphology with Darwin’s theory of natural selection and the methods of the positivist natural sciences, and since the lecture itself was delivered by a renowned Darwinian in Carl Brühl, Freud probably viewed the fragment in relation to Darwin rather than in terms of its affinities with Romantic Naturphilosophie. Yet in a letter to Fliess, as well as in the Interpretation of Dreams, Freud referred to Goethe as a scientist who relied upon unconscious intuition rather than rigorous method, which suggests that he had been influenced by the views of both Helmholtz and Du Bois-Reymond, seeing Goethe as having a less than rational scientific orientation that aligned him with Naturphilosophie. Such an impression of Goethe may also in part have emerged from Freud’s philosophy teacher Franz Brentano (1878–1917), who had engaged in an active campaign against Naturphilosophie in general as well as against “Goethe’s” fragment on nature in particular.

Thus, writing in January 1798 (about six months after composing the “Dedication” to part one of Faust), Goethe observes that while the scientist may wish to establish what he calls a “pure constant phenomenon” (reines konstantes Phänomen), such an ideal type can only ever be achieved by passing over or eliding the “many empirical fractions” (viele empirische Brüche) which make up the minute particularities of actual individual organisms.69 Likewise, in a much later piece entitled “Intuitive Judgment” (Anschauende Urteilskraft, 1817), Goethe referred to teleological reflections on organic development as adventures of reason rather than as scientific facts that correspond directly with the physical world.

In light of these methodological questions, the “hovering forms” (schwankende Gestalten) referred to by Goethe at the beginning of Faust are normally associated with organic forms that are subject to continual transformation, and are not susceptible of being represented as fixed or static.This interpretation resonates with Faust’s own vocation as a scientist or natural philosopher, in that he attempts to understand the secrets of nature without, at least initially, realizing that nature itself is protean and resistant to the strictures of scientific method. Such an interpretation also accords with Goethe’s post-Kantian scientific method in the Theory of Color, which insists that scientific representations of natural objects can only be figurative, heuristic and subject to the inaccuracies of language. Hermeneutically speaking, Freud’s interpretation of this passage is highly subjective and selective, in that he makes no attempt to understand Goethe’s lines in terms of their historical context or their function within Goethe’s thought as a totality.

The second main quotation used by Freud comes from the last stanza of the poem “An den Mond” (To the Moon), initially written in 1777 or 1778 and then substantially revised in 1789.71 Freud claims that the following lines from the second version of the poem paraphrase what he calls “the content of dream life” (Inhalt des Traumlebens):

Something not known by men,
Or not considered,
Which, through the labyrinth of the breast, Wanders in the night.

Was von Menschen nicht gewußt, Oder nicht bedacht,
Durch das Labyrinth der Brust Wandelt in der Nacht.

The last stanza in particular focuses upon the extent to which there is a connection between human subjectivity and nature of which the human subject itself is not fully aware. The Brust (breast) is a labyrinth in the sense that the ties between human desires and what might be called the natural or cosmic order (symbolized by the moon) are so deep and elemental that they exceed conscious reflec- tion: they are, in short, neither “gewußt” (known) nor “bedacht” (considered). Thus, insofar as Goethe’s stanza addresses aspects of human subjectivity that are not open to conscious deliberation, it may be fair to interpret it in relation to the unconscious, and such an interpretation is certainly supported by Goethe’s use of the term unbewußt in the first version of the poem.Yet apart from Goethe’s reference to “night,” there is nothing at all to suggest that the poem is about what Freud calls “the content of dream-life,” and Goethe’s late eighteenth-century understanding of the term unbewußt was surely quite different to Freud’s. As we have seen in Goethe’s reflections on the composition of Werther, and as further examples will also demonstrate, when Goethe uses the term unbewußt in relation to individual subjectivity, it is normally associated not only with desire, but also with unknown sources of artistic creativity or inspiration; rarely if ever is it in any way explicitly related to the repression of unpalat- able mental contents or the etiology of neuroses.

What, then, are the implications of this for Goethe’s alleged role in the development of the concept of the unconscious? And how might one accurately describe Goethe’s relation to psychoanalysis? Answers to the first question have been offered by a number of scholars, including Ludwig Klages, Lancelot Law Whyte, Henri F. Ellenberger, and (more recently): Paul Bishop, Matthew Bell, and Günter Gödde. All of these authorities generally agree that there is in Goethe’s works, and especially in Faust, a notion of the uncon- scious that emerges from the relationship between human subjectivity and nature – with “nature” being understood in the broadly pantheistic terms propagated by Herder and Goethe in their reception of Spinoza. Goethe gives expression to this notion when he says to Riemer in 1805 that “the human cannot remain in a conscious state or in consciousness for long; he must flee once again into unconsciousness, as therein live his roots.” The unconscious is in this sense often seen by Goethe as playing a positive role in human creativity, in that there is an apparent order in nature that comes to expression in works of art. It is for this reason that in a poetic piece composed in the year of his death (1832), Goethe wrote the following:

"The philosopher, in whom I trust so readily, Teaches, if not against all, then against the majority That we always achieve the best results unconsciously

"Der Philosoph, dem ich so gern vertraue, Lehrt, wo nicht gegen alle, doch die meisten, Daß unbewußt wir stets das Beste leisten."

The philosopher to whom Goethe refers in these lines is, not surprisingly, normally taken to be Spinoza. These lines were quoted by the philosopher Ludwig Klages in 1932, in a chapter entitled “Goethe as Discoverer of the Unconscious” (Goethe als Entdecker des Unbewussten). This demonstrates that, since the first half of the twentieth century, scholars have traced what Günter Gödde has called a tradition-line of the vitalist unconscious, beginning with Herder’s reception of Spinoza and developing concurrently in Goethe and the early works of Schelling, before continuing in the writings of Carus.

Goethe often portrays this notion of the unconscious in a positive light, as enabling artistic production, and in this sense it was closely related to his conception of genius. A slightly darker unconscious element, also related to Goethe’s discourse on genius, is his notion of das Dämonische (the daemonic). This concept – derived from the classical notion of the daemon, seen by Plato and other classical authors as an intermediary between the human and divine worlds – is rendered immanent in Goethe’s aesthetics of genius, most notably in Dichtung und Wahrheit and in the conversations with Eckermann. The daemonic individual is thus seen as a preternaturally creative figure who is a mediator of pantheistic nature. In the case of daemonic individuals like Shakespeare, Mozart, or Byron, Goethe argues that this mediation produces artistic works; but in the case of Napoleon, who for Goethe was the daemonic individual par excellence, this unconscious productivity can also lead to political acts, some of which may be less than rational and of a dubious moral status.

Regarding Goethe’s relation to Freud and to psychoanalysis – it seems quite unlikely that Goethe’s broadly pantheistic or vitalist notion of the unconscious could have exerted a direct scientific influence upon Freud. Or, to put this in another way, one might argue that Goethe’s scientific (as opposed to cultural) influence on Freud is rather more latent or subterranean than it is manifest. As we have seen, when Freud began to develop his theory of the unconscious, the vitalist and pantheistic metaphysics that underlay Goethe’s understanding of the unconscious had been surmounted by the positivist materialism of Helmholtz and Du Bois-Reymond. Goethe’s authority at this time was as a cultural figure and definitely not as a phil- osopher of science.
Freud retrospectively invoked isolated instances of Goethe’s understanding of the unconscious after the basic theory of psychoanalysis was already in place, and these invocations relate to Goethe’s authority as a cultural phenomenon rather than as a scientist.

Freud belonged to an epoch in which literary and philosophical ideas often intermingled with scientific discourses, even if natural scientists of the period (like Freud) tended officially to play down the influence of such ideas upon their scientific work. Likewise, as Bruce Mazlish has recently argued, the division between the natural sciences on the one hand and the humanities or human sciences on the other is not an absolute one: the natural sciences, insofar as they are developed by historically and culturally situated human agents, are not “inhuman,” any more than the human sciences, in emerging from the ideas of human beings situated in nature, are “unnatural.”

Perhaps a useful solution to the question of how Goethe’s literary works may have influenced Freud’s understanding of the unconscious is to replace the word “influence,” which is suggestive of a direct causative link, with two ideas found in philosophical hermeneutics: facticity and horizon. If a person’s facticity refers to the concrete historical situation in they find themselves, and which precedes any form of theoretical reflection, then we can say that Goethe’s literary works were part of Freud’s facticity: the highly educated German-speaking cultural tradition or horizon to which he ineluctably belonged. At the same time, however, any trace of Goethe’s science in the officially elaborated scientific methodology of Freudian psychoanalysis is very hard to find indeed.

Goethe believed that synthetic, theoretical ideas were necessary for science, but he also thought that they must continually be corrected and revised through the careful, diligent, and even pedantic accumulation of empirical research. And when we use experimental results to bear out a certain hypothesis that is particularly dear to us, our powers of self-reflection and self-awareness must be at their keenest. This is because, as Goethe writes,

We can never be too careful in our efforts to avoid drawing hasty conclusions from experiments. For here at this pass, this transition from empirical evi- dence to judgment, cognition to application, all the inner enemies of man lie in wait: imagination; impatience; haste; self-satisfaction; rigidity; formalistic thought; prejudice; ease; frivolity; fickleness – this whole throng and its ret- inue. Here they lie in ambush, and surprise not only the active observer but also the contemplative one who appears safe from all passion.

Goethe was well aware of their most obvious precedent: Francis Bacon’s discussion, in his New Organon (1620), of the “idols” or “false dogmas” of science. These idols are, according to Bacon, “inherent in the nature of the intellect itself, which is found to be much more prone to error than the senses,” and the only solution to them is to “fix and establish for ever the truth that the intellect can make no judgment except by induction in its legitimate form.”

The main problem with Bacon’s recourse to “pure” or legitimate induction can be found in Kant’s famous statement to the effect that intuitions without concepts are blind; that is, in order to carry out sci- entific research at all, one must, on some level, have conceptualized or anticipated what one is seeking to discover. Kant makes this point in his Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point ofView (Anthropologie in pragmatischer Hinsicht, 1798) when he explicitly criticizes Bacon, arguing that in sci- ence one cannot avoid beginning with a hypothesis (von einer Hypothese anfangen). This is also the essence of Karl Popper’s critique of Bacon in both the Logic of Scientific Discovery and in Conjectures and Refutations, where he argues that all science is based open initial anticipations, conjectures or hypotheses which must subsequently be tested (and either corroborated or falsified) through experiments. Seen in this light, the “purging of our minds of all anticipations or conjectures” demanded by Bacon represents, according to Popper, an impossible task that has very little to do with the methodology of modern science.

As H. B. Nisbet has noted, Goethe’s own critique of Baconian induction displays significant similarities with that of Popper. Nisbet points out that although Goethe’s emphasis on induction originally emerged from his reception of Bacon, when it came to the theoretical background to the Theory of Color, Goethe took the view that it is impossible to undertake inductions without hypotheses.This insight is given its classical formulation in the opening section of the Theory of Color:

An extremely odd demand is often set forth but never met, even by those who make it: i.e. that empirical data should be presented without any theoretical context ... because it is useless simply to look at something. Every act of look- ing turns into observation, every act of observation into reflection, every act of reflection into the making of associations; thus it is evident that we theorize with every attentive look into the world.

Goethe goes on to argue that, although “pure” or non-theoretical induc- tion is not possible, a degree of objectivity may be attained if one proceeds with what he calls “awareness,” “self-knowledge,” “freedom,” and even “irony.”

In short: what differentiates Goethe’s approach to scientific induction from that of Bacon is the influence of Kant. Through his reading of Kant, Goethe became aware that all scientific induction is ineluctably conceptual and thus to a certain degree subjective.

Yet the “freedom” to which Goethe alludes above is tempered by the fact that all theorizing is dependent upon language, which is in turn part of a scientific tradition of which the researcher may not be fully aware. In the “Didactic Part” (Didaktischer Teil) of the Theory of Color, Goethe sees one of the major pitfalls of science as being the tendency to elide the radical discontinuity between the linguistic sign (Zeichen) and the actual thing or object (Sache) which it attempts to describe. This danger arises when certain accepted modes of description become embedded within the vernacular of scientific disciplines, leading us to forget that accepted scientific terminology is only ever an approximation (and therefore a distortion) of the natural phe- nomena which it describes. “The conflict of the individual with unmediated experience and mediated tradition,” writes Goethe in the historical part (Historischer Teil) of the Theory of Color, “is actually the history of science.”

Every scientist stands within a tradition of inherited terms and concepts, the influence of which he must strive to be aware; and if, as is highly likely, he fails to become fully conscious of this tradition and its effects on his approach to nature, “it will encounter him unconsciously” (so wird es ihm unbewußt begegnen).

Goethe’s role in the history of the unconscious in nineteenth-century German thought is at once central and ambiguous. There is no doubt that Goethe elaborated, albeit in a non-systematic way, a notion of the unconscious that is both redolent of Spinoza’s pantheism and deeply related to the concept of genius, according to which the unconscious forces of nature are seen as being expressed through works of art. It was, moreover, this understanding of the unconscious which influenced Goethe’s status as the central genius of modern German literature: the preternaturally gifted poet who allegedly relied on intuition and unconscious inspiration as opposed to the conscious Kantian theorizing of Schiller. Indeed, Goethe himself readily contributed to this self-image in his autobiographical works and conversations.

It is also this image of Goethe that is given a mythic status in one of the founding narratives of psychoanalysis, according to which Freud was inspired to become a scientist upon hearing the dithyrambic essay “Die Natur.” At the same time, however, when it came to the theoretical elaboration of psychoanalysis, Goethe was an entirely unacceptable precursor for the establishment of a new “science” in the age of Darwin and Helmholtz. Accordingly, Goethe became a figure to be selectively and often tendentiously invoked by Freud as a cultural (as opposed to scientific) precursor. Goethe, according to Freud, was intuitively and poetically aware of truths about human nature which had, prior to the birth of psychoanalysis, lacked an appropriate scientific formulation.

In this way Goethe was afforded an exemplary status in the psychoanalytic canon and therefore also in the history of the unconscious: being variously depicted as mythic origin, proto-psychoanalyst and intriguing analysand. Yet once the myths about Goethe’s genial powers of intuition and his alleged dislike for philosophy are stripped away, and once his real and independent engagement with Kant’s critical philosophy is properly examined, he is revealed to be an important theorist of science who offers valuable insights as to how unconscious affects may influence scientific research." [Thinking the Unconcious]

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PostSubject: Re: The Unconscious Sat Nov 12, 2016 1:21 pm

Schopenhauer.


Nicholls wrote:
"Human beings have the same essence as all other manifestations of will in the world, and this has several conse- quences for Schopenhauer’s conception of humanity. Neither rationality, nor intentional action, nor consciousness is primary or foundational in human beings. The true core of the personality is not the self-conscious “I” or subject of knowledge, but rather the will, which is fundamen- tally blind and without knowledge, but which interacts with the intellect almost as an agent distinct from it. Schopenhauer makes a number of psychological observations about the interplay of intellect and will. These include the omnipresence of sexual desire in or beneath our experience; the persistence of desires and affects unknown to the self-conscious intellect; the will’s capacity to prohibit representations in the intellect that are liable to arouse certain emotions; and the occurrence of madness when memories painful to the will are shielded from the intellect and arbitrary representations are substituted.

The world is will; and that all previous thinkers have failed to see will as having primacy in human beings, instead making willing secondary to knowing, or to something called reason, soul, or intellect.

He does acknowledge some continu- ity between Goethe and his own central doctrine of the will. He says of Goethe’s novel The Elective Affinities (DieWahlverwandtschaften, 1809) that: “as its title indicates, though Goethe was unaware of this, [it] has as its foundation the idea that the will, which constitutes the basis of our inner being, is the same will that manifests itself in the lowest, inorganic phenomena.”

“Arthur Schopenhauer, the philosopher, showed mankind the extent to which their activities are determined by sexual impulses – in the ordinary sense of the word,”8 and (in 1914) that “what [Schopenhauer] says ... about the struggle against accepting a distressing piece of reality coin- cides with my conception of repression so completely that once again I owe the chance of making a discovery to my not being well read.” Finally, in his Autobiographical Study of 1925 Freud says:

The large extent to which psycho-analysis coincides with the philosophy of Schopenhauer – not only did he assert the dominance of the emotions and the supreme importance of sexuality but he was even aware of the mechanism of repression – is not to be traced to my acquaintance with his teaching. I read Schopenhauer very late in life.

From the second volume of TheWorld asWill and Representation, first published in 1844.

"Unconsciousness [Bewußtlosigkeit] is the original and natural condition of all things, and therefore is also the basis from which, in particular species of beings, consciousness appears as their highest efflorescence; and for this rea- son, even then unconsciousness still predominates. Accordingly, most beings are without consciousness; but yet they act according to the laws of their nature, in other words of their will. Plants have at most an extremely feeble analogue of consciousness, the lowest animals merely a faint gleam of it. But even after it has ascended through the whole series of animals up to man and his faculty of reason, the unconsciousness of the plant, from which it started, still always remains the foundation, and this is to be observed in the necessity for sleep as well as in all the essential and great imperfections ... of every intel- lect produced through physiological functions. And of any other intellect we have no conception."

"Awakened to life out of the night of unconsciousness [Bewußtlosigkeit], the will finds itself as an individual in an endless and boundless world, among innumerable individuals, all striving, suffering, and erring; and, as if in a troubled dream, it hurries back to the old unconsciousness. Yet till then its [the will’s] desires are unlimited, its claims inexhaustible, and every satisfied desire gives birth to a new one. No possible satisfaction in the world could suffice to still its craving, set a final goal to its demands, and fill the bottomless pit of its heart. ... Everything in life proclaims that earthly happiness is destined to be frustrated, or recognized as an illusion. The grounds for this lie deep in the very nature of things."

Let me highlight three themes apparent here: first, the continuity of the human essence with that of nature as a whole; next, the secondary and superficial nature of the human intellect, which is in complex interaction with the more fundamental part of us that is the will; and finally, the unhappiness, worthlessness, or nothingness (Nichtigkeit) of the life we lead as manifestations of this will, and the consequent need, in Schopenhauer’s eyes, for a redemption from this existence.

Schopenhauer gives a fundamentally anti-dualist account of action, insisting that the act of will is not a purely mental volition that causes physical effects; rather, it is identical with bodily action. So the physical movements I make in the course of intentionally doing something are a case of willing. In fact, Schopenhauer starts his argument for the world as will from this very place. The will in this first sense is immediately known to each subject, in a unique way not captured by the Kantian conception of nature as the realm of objects in space and time and subordinate to causal laws. As the subject of willing, I do not, indeed cannot, understand my body in those objective terms.There is an immediate and inner knowledge of the self as conjointly subject and body, and this, for Schopenhauer, is the key that unlocks the internal essence (inneresWesen) of all those things distinct from us which present themselves to our outer knowledge as empirical objects.They are all objective manifestations of the same essence, they are all the objectivation or objecthood (Objektivation, Objektivität) of will, or appearance of the will (Willenserscheinung).

The initial argument for this is somewhat as follows: I know myself and I am myself, but in the case of everything else, I can only know it and not be it. But if I were to regard other things only to the extent that they are known or knowable, I would be denying them any real being (Wesen) at all. They would remain: “mere representation, i.e. mere phantoms” (bloße Vorstellung, d.h. bloße Phantome).

External things would then be, if you like, mere knowable outsides with no true core within. If we can know our own inner essence directly, we face a choice: either we can regard ourselves as divorced from the rest of the world by virtue of our uniquely having this essence, or we can infer that, as belonging to the world, we must share its essence. A suppressed premise here is that whatever is my essence must be the essence of everything in the world – or of everything that indeed has any essence. So there is a deep-seated naturalism in Schopenhauer’s treatment of human beings, which from the start is metaphysical in char- acter; though at the empirical level of description he is amenable to a more scientific naturalism – as in his remark that we have no conception of any form of intellect that is not produced through physiological functions. Schopenhauer also believes that all empirical explanations given in science, though perfectly in order in their own right, must eventually peter out into something inexplicable, and that they need completion by a unifying metaphysical account of the nature of reality as a whole.

Having established the intimate connection of body and will in intentional action, Schopenhauer finds other instances of that connection:

every impression on the body is also at once and directly an impression on the will. As such it is called pain when it is contrary to the will or pleasure when it is in accordance with the will. ...The identity of the body and the will further shows itself ...in the fact that every vehement and excessive movement of the will, in other words, every emotion, agitates the body and its inner workings directly and immediately, and disturbs the course of its vital functions.

Schopenhauer embraces as movements of the will:

all desiring, striving, wishing, longing, yearning, hoping, rejoicing, exulting and the like, as well as the feeling of unwillingness or repugnance, detesting, fleeing, fearing, being angry, hating, mourning, suffering, in short, all affects and passions. For these are only movements more or less weak or strong, stir- rings at one moment violent and stormy, at another mild and faint, of our own will that is either checked or given its way, satisfied or unsatisfied.

Though they cannot be classified as acts of the will, such affects and passions are (or at least often are) states of mind of which a subject is conscious. What unites them with bodily acts of will is their dynamic nature: they are partially constituted by a condition of desiring or striving in the individual who undergoes them. Schopenhauer is also clear that affects and passions can be present unconsciously:

For years we can have a desire without admitting it to ourselves or letting it come to clear consciousness, because the intellect is not to know anything about it. ... but if the wish is fulfilled, we get to know from our joy, not without a feeling of shame, that this is what we desired; for example, the death of a near relation whose heir we are.

Schopenhauer makes the claim that the body itself, which is the condi- tion of willing in the narrower sense, must also be an objectivation of will.The motives which cause me to act in a certain way do not explain my willing: the foundation of my willing in these particular conscious ways must lie elsewhere than in the causes of my acts of will or of my affects. Schopenhauer concludes that my “whole body must be noth- ing but my will become visible”;18 the body is “objectivation of the will” (Objektivation des Willens). This is a prime case of will’s “blind activity” (blinde Thätigkeit), or of its being “without knowledge” (erkenntnißlos), as he frequently puts it, and here will is neither rational, nor conscious, nor mental.

The very organized structure and normal functioning of my body, its growth, and all the processes of it which presuppose neither consciousness nor even mindedness are manifestations of what Schopenhauer now calls will to life (Wille zum Leben). The inner nature of the human being is that it tends towards maintaining and propagating life, and this same inner nature is common to every inhabitant of the organic world. A tiger, a sunflower, or a single-celled organism have the same inner nature or essence. Schopenhauer even argues that at the most fundamental level the same inner nature must be that of the whole phe- nomenal world, not only in the organic but also in the inorganic realm where it underlies the processes of gravitation, magnetism, and crystal formation:

Everything presses and pushes towards existence, if possible towards organic existence, i.e., life, and then to the highest possible degree thereof. In animal nature, it then becomes obvious that will to life (Wille zum Leben) is the keynote of its being, its only unchangeable and unconditioned quality.

But my essence is the same as that of every other thing in the world.The boundary between human willing and other processes of organic end- directedness is not one between metaphysical kinds. I as agent have an “inner nature” in virtue of which I tend towards local ends and the over- arching end of life – being alive and reproducing life. And since throughout nature the striving for existence is “blind,” not essentially mediated by consciousness, this must apply also to my essence. So what I essentially am is a thing that blindly tends towards living existence.

It is crucial to Schopenhauer that I tend by nature not only to preserve my own existence, but to propagate the existence of more living things. For him, reproductive sexuality is as basic to the nature of the human individual as the drive towards continuing his or her own existence.The genitals, he comments, are “the real focus of the will.” The whole body, including the brain, is objecthood of the will, but the organs of reproduction are where the will to life is seen most plainly for what it is.

So what seemed distinctive of human beings, their capacity for inten- tional action, is just another instance of the will manifesting itself in nature. Indeed, “the real self is the will to life”: in other words, the real self is the principle of blind striving for existence and reproduction that manifests itself as organic body, as me, the bodily individual, while not pertaining to me alone. And human willing is one among a multitude of ways in which organisms tend towards a telos, distinguished from other organic processes merely by the kind of causal antecedents which deflect the organism’s course.

Once we regard humanity in this way, we have to attribute to ourselves some of the characteristics of the world at large. The will (the world) is itself groundless and has no exterior purpose. It merely, as a brute fact, manifests itself endlessly as individuals which endlessly strive. Nothing in the world strives or tends as it does for any ultimate reason. It is not to fulfill any rational purpose, or because there is a good end-state to be attained, that plants or crystals grow, or that objects gravitate towards the earth. And so it is with humanity. We each exist as an individual organism that blindly and for no good reason “gravitates” towards survival and sexual reproduction. Hence, although rational thought and choice are characteristics of human beings, they are not at the core of the human psyche, and are, Schopenhauer believes, explicable as mere instruments of the more fundamental will to life. Even consciousness, let alone the self-conscious- ness which was earlier proclaimed the true starting-point for philosophy, must be underlain by a nature that is more fundamental than it.

Schopenhauer casts his theory of will from the start in Kantian terms. The world of representation is governed by the laws of space, time and causality, but beyond it lies the realm of the thing in itself, which Kant had left as a riddle. Schopenhauer offers a solution to the riddle: the thing in itself is will. The notion that the will is beyond the realm of the subject’s representation of objects licences the idea that the will is beyond the principle of individuation. Hence Schopenhauer can regard it as an undifferentiated whole, not split up into plural individuals at all – though strictly speaking it must be beyond the whole question of plurality and unity. The will is also not causally related to anything, does not exist in time, and is not subject to change.

Forcing his doctrine into this Kantian framework might in retrospect be regarded as one of Schopenhauer’s most unfortunate moves – it certainly gives rise to numerous problems of consistency and intelligibility.

First, it is hard for Schopenhauer consistently to separate the notion of the thing in itself considered as the world apart from all knowability on the one hand, and the notion of will as the most general form under which the world is knowable to us. In the latter sense will is the thing in itself, while in the former it is not. Secondly, it is hard for Schopenhauer to distinguish the undifferentiated will of which everything in nature is the objective appearance, from the will which is my individual essence or real nature – what I am in myself. Schopenhauer borrows Kant’s term “intelligible character” (intelligibler Charakter) for this: the intelligible character is an innate and unchanging disposition of will quite specific to the human individual. Working only with a notion of the thing in itself which places it outside time and space, and thus outside of individuation, makes the notion of the “in itself ” aspect of the individual hard to negotiate, yet Schopenhauer’s psychology requires a timeless and unchanging will to underlie all of the individual’s conscious states and actions, and to be a character peculiar to that individual.

“The Primacy of the Will in Self-Consciousness” (Vom Primat des Willens im Selbstbewußtseyn), where he catalogues different ways in which the relationship between primary will and secondary intellect shows up in self-conscious experience. The will is a more primitive, indeed simple and childish part of the psyche. Schopenhauer notes how infants are full of will at a time when their intellect is hardly developed at all:

through uncontrollable, aimless storming and screaming, they show the pressure of will with which they are full to overflowing, whereas their willing as yet has no object, in other words, they will without knowing what they will.

In adult life, as soon as the developed intellect represents anything in thought or imagination, this same will, unchanged, responds:

If, for example, we are alone, and think over our personal affairs, and then vividly picture to ourselves, say, the menace of an actually present danger, and the possibility of an unfortunate outcome, anxiety at once compresses the heart and the blood ceases to flow. But if the intellect then passes to the possibility of the opposite outcome, and allows the imagination to picture the happiness long hoped-for as thereby attained, all the pulses at once quicken with joy, and the heart feels as light as a feather, until the intellect wakes up from its dream.

And so on through numerous examples, in which the intellect strikes up the tune and the will must dance to it; in fact, the intellect causes the will to play the part of a child whom its nurse at her pleasure

puts into the most different moods by chatter and tales alternating between pleasant and melancholy things. However, though the will is simpler than the intellect, it reasserts its true hegemony in the following manner:

by prohibiting the intellect from having certain representations, by absolutely preventing certain trains of thought from arising, because it knows, or in other words experiences from the self-same intellect, that they would arouse in it any one of the emotions previously described. It then curbs and restrains the intellect, and forces it to turn to other things.

Note that the more primitive will has the power of absolutely preventing certain trains of thought from arising in the intellect. That is to say, although such thoughts are in some sense present as ours, we never consciously entertain them.The process of prevention must therefore be an unconscious one. And it is a process that the conscious intellect is powerless to resist:

it is bound to succeed the moment the will is in earnest about it; for the resist- ance then comes not from the intellect, which always remains indifferent, but from the will itself; and the will has an inclination in one respect for a representation it abhors in another. Thus the representation is in itself interesting to the will, just because it excites it. At the same time, however, abstract knowledge tells the will that this representation will cause it a shock of painful and unworthy emotion to no purpose puts into the most different moods by chatter and tales alternating between pleasant and melancholy things.
However, though the will is simpler than the intellect, it reasserts its true hegemony in the following manner:

by prohibiting the intellect from having certain representations, by absolutely preventing certain trains of thought from arising, because it knows, or in other words experiences from the self-same intellect, that they would arouse in it any one of the emotions previously described. It then curbs and restrains the intellect, and forces it to turn to other things.

Note that the more primitive will has the power of absolutely preventing certain trains of thought from arising in the intellect. That is to say, although such thoughts are in some sense present as ours, we never consciously entertain them.The process of prevention must therefore be an unconscious one. And it is a process that the conscious intellect is powerless to resist:

it is bound to succeed the moment the will is in earnest about it; for the resist- ance then comes not from the intellect, which always remains indifferent, but from the will itself; and the will has an inclination in one respect for a representation it abhors in another. Thus the representation is in itself interesting to the will, just because it excites it. At the same time, however, abstract know- ledge tells the will that this representation will cause it a shock of painful and unworthy emotion to no purpose.

An extension of the will’s repression of thoughts – for that is what we have here – allows Schopenhauer to account for madness (Wahnsinn), which for him is a kind of defect of memory. He says,

if, in a particular case, the resistance and opposition of the will to the assimila- tion of some knowledge reaches such a degree that that operation is not clearly carried through; accordingly, if certain events or circumstances are wholly suppressed for the intellect, because the will cannot bear the sight of them; and then, if the resultant gaps are arbitrarily filled up for the sake of the necessary connexion; we then have madness.

Schopenhauer gives other examples from everyday life – the sort of thing that “anyone who is attentive can observe in himself” – in which the will makes decisions or plans as it were “in secret,” decisions from which the intellect remains excluded and “can only get to know them, like those of a stranger, by spying out and taking unawares; and it must surprise the will in the act of expressing itself, in order merely to discover its real intentions.  

One of Schopenhauer’s major themes is that the will in nature is greater than the individual living being, and has the individual at its mercy. A prime illustration occurs in his discussion of human sexuality. We saw above how the sexual functioning of the body is the primary expres- sion of the will to life in human beings. The sex-drive or sexual impulse (Geschlechtstrieb) is the “kernel of the will-to-life ... the concentration of all willing”:

it may be said that the human being is concrete sexual impulse, for his origin is an act of copulation, and the desire of his desires is an act of copulation, and this impulse alone perpetuates and holds together the whole of his phenomenal appearance. It is true that the will to life manifests itself primarily as an effort to maintain the individual; yet this is only a stage towards the effort to maintain the species ... The sex-drive is therefore the most complete manifestation of the will to life.

It is not surprising, then, if sexual love (Geschlechtsliebe) directed towards another individual is a powerful force in human life:

It is the ultimate goal of almost all human effort; it has an unfavourable influence on the most important affairs, interrupts every hour the most serious occupations, and sometimes perplexes for a while even the greatest minds. It does not hesitate to intrude with its trash, and to interfere with negotiations of statesmen and the investigations of the learned. It knows how to slip its love- notes and ringlets even into ministerial portfolios and philosophical manu- scripts ... it appears on the whole as a malevolent demon, striving to pervert, to confuse, and to overthrow everything.

Human happiness is frustrated or rendered impossible by the situation as Schopenhauer describes it. The will intrudes upon, and interferes with, our conscious life. For us there can only be perspectival knowing, in that affects, passions, and hidden drives, inclinations, and aversions invari- ably “twist, colour, and distort” our judgment and perception. The will calls the tune, never leaving us in peace. The sexual drive dominates and torments us. The will is timeless and can never be satisfied, so that fulfillment of any desire brings only a momentary release from pain which yields instantly to more unfulfilled desiring. The will is our essence, but it is our essence that blights our existence.To be an individual expression of will is a condition of purposelessness and suffering – to the extent that, for Schopenhauer, if we really understood the nature of things fully, we should much prefer non-existence. Schopenhauer describes death as the “great opportunity no longer to be I.” Lapsing back into the unconscious will of nature is a release from individuality and pain.  

Aesthetic experience, in which consciousness is disinterested and temporarily freed of the will, is at one end of the spectrum, extinction of the individual at the other. Value can be retrieved to the extent that the individual embodiment of will abates. One wills less and less, and locates significance less and less in the individual living manifestation of will one happens to be. In aesthetic experience willing abates totally but temporarily, and one ceases to be aware of oneself as individual. But similar notions of selfless objectivity apply in Schopenhauer’s ethics and philosophy of religion. In describing those who have undergone the ultimate redemption which he calls the denial of the will, Schopenhauer asks us to recall his characterization of aesthetic experience as that of a “pure, will-less, painless, timeless” subject (reines, willenloses, schmerzloses, zeitloses Subjekt) and imagine such a state prolonged indefinitely.

Aesthetic objectivity prefigures the disintegration of one’s ability to place value in the striving, material individual one is – that disintegration which is for Schopenhauer the sole hope of cheating life of its emptiness of genuine, positive worth. It is sometimes asked whether Schopenhauer’s philosophy deserves the title “pessimism”: that it probably does is borne out by his consistent central thought that the very essence of each human being, of humanity, and of the world as a whole causes only grief and is something to escape from, if possible, at all costs." [Thinking the Unconscious]

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PostSubject: Re: The Unconscious Sat Nov 12, 2016 1:36 pm

Descartes, Carus, Leibniz, and Goethe's Faust.


Nicholls wrote:
"Descartes conferred a special status upon consciousness. Even if we were to deny the validity of all knowledge that we might plausibly doubt, we would still have to admit the truth of the statement “I am,” for the very act of doubting requires that there be a subject able to doubt. For this reason, consciousness – the condition in which we are aware of ourselves as thinking subjects – acquires a new significance: it guarantees certainty in the skeptical Descartes’ very uncertain world. We can be certain about truths that are grounded in consciousness, even if we cannot be certain about anything a posteriori. This dualistic epistemology corresponds to a dualistic ontology.The world consists of thinking matter or souls (res cogitans), and physical matter (res extensa).The former operates according to rational laws, the latter according to mechanical ones which ultimately resolve down to quantities.

From this position, Descartes is able to mount his greatest coup, replacing the Aristotelian theory of physical qualities with a modern, progressive quantitative science. But it was the consequences of Descartes’ dualistic ontology that caused difficulties for Germans. Descartes considered human and animal bodies to be simply machines. At the same time he equated mind with consciousness, which appeared to undermine traditional notions of the soul as a constantly active and immortal principle: if mind ended where consciousness ended, then how could the persistence of mind after death be proved?

The cogito only counters the skeptic’s denial that I can be certain of my existence at this moment in time. It does not assure me that I will still exist when I am no longer conscious. It does not therefore prove adequately that my soul is immortal. In these two ways – in having mechanical bodies and souls that do not outlive consciousness – humans seemed to have a large part of their being in a realm apart from God’s grace. Hence Leibniz could accept Descartes’ theory of knowledge, but not his equation of soul with consciousness or the scandalous view that bodies were simply machines.

This is why for eighteenth-century German rationalism consciousness no longer enjoys the special status accorded to it by Descartes. And Leibniz’s theory of the monadic soul – a simple constantly active substance that is not affected by changes outside it and contains the principle of its own growth – is designed to guarantee that the mental activity that underlies consciousness, or if you like unconscious mental activity, is continuous and unceasing. Leibniz argued, perhaps adopting an argument of Plotinus, that the mind’s activity is incessant. Leibnizian continuous, unconscious mental activity rescues the Cartesian model of mind from materialism and atheism.

For Kant, our empirical consciousness is affected by sense impres- sions; empirical consciousness is therefore passive. Kant must, however, retain an inviolable space for the active will.The chief problem that Kant seeks to address in the Critique of Pure Reason (Kritik der reinenVernunft, 1781/1787) is how the activity of will and the passivity of empirical consciousness can be reconciled.

For Leibniz,Wolff, Kant, and the idealists, the idea that there existed an unconscious (or unknown or unknowable) part of the mind preserved a wholeness that was felt to be threatened by materialism and empiricism. In arguing that the mind is never inactive and that Descartes was wrong to equate mind with consciousness, Leibniz was therefore responsible for the founding act of the German tradition of psychology, giving to German thought its distinctive psy- chological coloring. In the 1720s and 1730s, Wolff cemented Leibniz’s argument and elevated psychology to a position alongside ontology and logic, when in Britain and France the term psychology was not even in common philosophical use. Kant, though ill disposed towards Wolff’s Rational Psychology, was nonetheless dependent on Wolff’s theory of mind. One might even say that the Critique of Pure Reason had a Wolffian argument at its core. Kant posited an unknowable but necessarily existent subjectivity – the Transcendental Unity of Apperception – in order to secure the unity of self and refute Hume’s dangerous skepticism. The postulated unknown mind preserved the integrity of the known mind. Schopenhauer made a similar move, though in the opposite direction, for will is the ultimate reality that is masked by illusion.

In the “Prologue in Heaven” that initiates the action of Goethe’s Faust on a metaphysical level, the Lord and Mephistopheles agree on the broad principles of a plan to test humanity.The extent of their agreement is startling. Mephistopheles launches an attack on human reason, which he says is destructive. The Lord agrees, to the extent that he admits that human striving is erratic, “for man will err as long as he can strive.”

That is to say, challenged by Mephistopheles, the Lord agrees that their conscious purposes do not lead humans to goodness or happiness. On the other hand, there is an unconscious force in humans that is more promising. It is striking again how much agreement there is on this. It is Mephistopheles who first suggests the organic metaphor (“his fevered mind is in a constant ferment”) which the Lord then adapts to his own positive purposes: like a plant, Faust will reach his fulfillment, even if at times this seems unlikely, for whereas his conscious purposes are erratic, a “dark impulse” (dunkler Drang) gives him direction.

(In passing it should be noted that dunkel was the word used by the Wolffians to describe the unclear, unconscious ideas that populate the human imagination; it was generally agreed in the Late Enlightenment that humans are motivated to a large extent by such dark ideas.) In other words, according to the Lord, the unconscious mind makes good the metaphysical deficit of the conscious, gives meaning and direction to meaningless, directionless empirical consciousness.

For Carus as for Leibniz, the unconscious is in the first instance an anti- dote to Descartes’ mechanical view of the body. Around 1800, the spe- cific form of the problem concerned Kant’s perceived failure to give an account of the genesis of the subject that could transcend the subject’s empirical existence as a piece of conditioned nature. Carus is not directly concerned with these philosophical issues. His approach is determined by his prior commitment to Schelling’s Naturphilosophie, which to his mind had satisfactorily reconfigured the relationship between spirit and matter:

That the movement of the stellar bodies, the orbit of the planets and comets and moons, was in just the same measure an annunciation of life itself as were the metamorphoses of plants and the circulation of the blood corpuscles in the animal spirits – in this insight I had experienced the liberation of my spirit from the dark cramped ideas of a dead mechanism, and the desire to proclaim the triumph of this knowledge and bring it to the attention of the world moti- vated me above all other things.

The role of evangelist of Schellingian Naturphilosophie suited Carus. Following Schelling, he occupied a series of philosophical positions opposed to Cartesianism. He rejected the division between organic and inorganic matter, viewed the universe as an organism, not a mechanism, and treated the philosophy of nature and philosophy of mind as complementary parts of one system.The essence of nature is that it produces the subjectivity which enables it to understand itself. In this sense, psychology’s job is to trace the emergence of subjective consciousness out of nature, and the medium for this is the unconscious. For Carus, then, as for Schelling, the unconscious is “not yet conscious self” (noch nicht bewußtes Ich). In psychology, Carus’ aim would be to discover the unknown, unconscious productivity behind all consciousness.

It is important to recognize that this project is intended to replace the Faculty Psychology of Wolff. All of the idealists, from Kant onwards, looked for a replacement for this hated discipline, with its predilection for analytical dissection and its multiplicity of mental faculties and capacities. In place of the analytical approach, Carus offers a genetic one. The advantage of the genetic approach is that it promises to show how the many of consciousness could evolve from a primal unity. It would thus undermine the rationale of the analytical method:

Should we not reach a clear and beautiful insight into the mental [geistig] nature of man by trying here to follow, step by step, the path of development, if – instead of beginning by analyzing and splitting the fully developed mental [geistig] organism in its infinite multiplicity and mutability – we were to set ourselves the task of beginning at the very beginning, by first investigating the first dark, dim, vague stirrings of the mental world [Geisterwelt] within us?

In tracing the emergence of the finished product, consciousness, the most important idea is that of “becoming” (Werden). Here Carus combines the ideas of a number of thinkers, preeminently Aristotle, Leibniz, Herder, and Goethe. Carus claims to have developed his genetic approach to psychology from Herder and Goethe.

The distinctions that Carus makes between the different stages of development of the unconscious and conscious psyche derive partly from Aristotle’s biologistic model of the five souls and partly from Leibniz’s cognitive model. For Aristotle, each of the five different types of soul has different capacities (dynameis). The most basic, vegetable soul has the powers of nutrition and growth. The second type of soul has these powers plus sensation. The third type has all of the above plus desire. The fourth has the above plus movement. And the fifth species has all of the others plus “intellect and the reflective capacity” (nous kai hē theorētikē dynamis).

In each case the higher soul comprises the lower. As well as describing different classes of organism – vegetables, immobile animals, lower mobile animals, higher mobile animals, and humans – the model of five souls describes the process of development through which each human being passes, from an original vegetable state up towards full consciousness. Leibniz has a similar scheme. According to this model, inorganic matter has no consciousness, plants have appetition, animals have empirical consciousness, and humans have reason.

For Carus, too, the psyche proceeds through a number of different forms of biological existence, with each stage subsuming the prior stages, much like the five species of souls in Aristotle’s De anima.The successive phases of individual development are thus the same as the evolutionary phases of the species’ development. In this sense Carus will argue, following Aristotle and prior to the theory’s explicit formulation by biologists Karl Ernst von Baer and Ernst Haeckel, that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny: each individual in its development passes through the stages through which the human race has evolved. It is worth emphasizing in this connection that the theory of recapitulation would continue to exercise influence in nineteenth-century psychology.

Freud’s Totem and Taboo is subtitled: Resemblances Between the Mental Lives of Savages and Neurotics (Einige Übereinstimmungen im Seelenleben derWilden und der Neurotiker) and argues that social organization of tribal cultures resembles stages of infant development. Stephen Jay Gould has argued for the central importance of recapitulation in Freud’s theory of the unconscious. Similar arguments concerning the “chthonic” parts of mind can be found in Jung’s “Mind and Earth” (“Seele und Erde”).

While none of this can be attributed to Carus’ influence, it reinforces the general sense that orginally Aristotelian theories continued to exert a hold on the German psychological tradition. Having said this, Carus’ model of the psyche is considerably more complex than Aristotle’s.

Like Aristotle, Carus assumes that the psyche is basically biological. The absolute unconscious is the biological basis of mind: it comprises the psychic activity that is generated by our biological being, whether that activity is non-sentient (in the general absolute unconscious) or sentient (in the partial absolute unconscious).

And like Leibniz, Carus insists that the unconscious psyche is constantly active: “it is, to a certain extent, continuous, it is constantly re-forming, always destroying and renewing.” The sentient unconscious is the part of the psyche created by the internal nervous system: not by sensation, but by what romantic medics and psychologists like Johann Christian Reil were wont to call the ganglious system. This equates roughly to what we now term the autonomic nervous system, which carries out physiological maintenance activities, without conscious control or sensation, such as the mainten- ance of heart and respiration rates, digestive functions, and salivation.

All conscious experience returns to the relative unconscious once it leaves consciousness. Interestingly, Carus seems to believe that nothing is ever truly forgotten or obliterated from the psychic record; all thought is pre- served in one form or another.

One can see how this might derive from his Aristotelian idea that the higher souls comprise the lower: developed consciousness thus never frees itself from its biological basis.The relative unconscious is, among other things, the place where experience is preserved. This is, in common parlance, our memory. But one must distinguish Carus’ conception of memory from our common usage of the term. For Carus there are two forms of memory: the conscious and the uncon- scious. This is analogous to a distinction in Wolff ’s psychology between the imagination (Einbildungskraft) and the faculty of recognitional memory (recordatio or Gedächtnis).

Recordatio is a cognitive faculty: the ability to recognize that what is presented to us is indeed a recollection of an impression we have already experienced. The imagination, on the other hand, is what makes us re-experience memories, and that is an automatic process beyond our control. Thus, on the one hand we have a conscious memory that consists in our recognizing past experiences as our own, and on the other hand an enormous mass of past experiences that are constantly and uncontrollably being forced up into consciousness. In principle, then, we are subject to the recurrence of undesired memories. The conscious mind is subordinate to the unconscious. However, Carus’ unconscious is entirely harmless. For Carus, memory is a dynamic biological system. A further power of the relative unconscious is to produce dreams. Dreams are composed of two kinds of material: the biological substrate that floats up into the relative unconscious from the absolute unconscious, and residues of experience drifting down into the relative unconscious from consciousness. Finally, the relative unconscious acts as a buffer, where material is loaded before being processed up into the conscious psyche.

Consciousness of world is continuously affected by the unconscious:

Like the unconscious proper, all feelings and experiences that have already attained consciousness, but then have unconsciously slept in the psyche, have an effect on the conscious psychic life, just as they affect what we have named the absolute unconscious.

The first prerequisite of consciousness of world is a nervous system which can “concentrate” (concentriren) the stirrings (Regungen) of the non-nervous parts of the body. Consciousness of world always begins as, and is underpinned by, “the vague feeling of the condition of one’s own organization,” which is experienced either as pleasure or pain. The second prerequisite of consciousness is the availability of external stimuli. The third is a mass of memories, which Carus glosses as “the epimethean fixing of all stimuli (Anregungen) of the psychic life.” The fourth is a critical mass of representations (Vorstellungen) corresponding to a particular mass of gray matter.

Whereas traditionally German philosophers, following Descartes and Leibniz, had distinguished between empirical consciousness and reason, Carus replaces reason with consciousness of self. In this respect he follows his master, Schelling. Human consciousness is nature becoming aware of itself; human reason, therefore, is a reflection of nature’s aware- ness of itself, and thus a doubly reflexive consciousness. This follows Schelling’s scheme of powers (Potenzen), an application to the natural world of a mathematical metaphor. As we move up the ladder of con- sciousness, we find consciousness progressively raised to higher powers. Mind, therefore, is not essentially different from nature; it is nature raised to a higher power: “mind [Geist] is not something apart from nature, it is only nature’s purest creation and therefore its symbol, its language.”

Carus’ views on individuation follow a similar pattern. As unconscious beings we are unindividuated. Indeed, Carus believes that fundamentally all souls are one, and that the unconscious psyche belongs to the genus, not to the individual. (This is one of the reasons why Jung was attracted to Carus.) It is self-consciousness that causes the impression of individuation: humans become aware that they are different from other humans. Animals, by contrast, which do not have self-consciousness, think that they are the same as all other animals of their species, since animal consciousness is not fully individuated. Individuation proper sets in in humans in the relative unconscious: this is where (individual) consciousness returns for storage. At this level, the psyche works according to the laws of association established by eighteenth-century thinkers such as Hume and David Hartley (1705–57). Ideas are connected to one another in the relative unconscious because of their similarity or proximity in time.

The psyche becomes increasingly individuated and differentiated, above all by one’s sex. This is a fundamental ontological principle for Carus. All change is from the simple to the complex.  

However, Carus believes that the ultimate fate of consciousness resides not in the individual, but in the species. For instance, whilst our sex makes us irreversibly individual, the regulation of a roughly equal proportion of males to females in

the human population is, says Carus, a function of our species psyche. For a woman, bearing children represents the triumph of the species soul over the individual soul.We only become truly human in as much as we act as a whole species: humanity as a whole represents the true nature of human beings.

Related to this is Carus’ account of our consciousness of time, which he considers to be the fundamental feature of self-consciousness. Kant argued in the Critique of Pure Reason that our internal sense is condi- tioned by our experience of the passage of time. Accordingly, for Carus consciousness lives in the present. Inasmuch as we attend to an idea, that idea is present to us. Whereas to the conscious psyche the present is strong, the past and future are relatively weak.55 This is because, as we have already noted, conscious memory is a weak faculty compared to the memory of the relative unconscious. The unconscious psyche by contrast has no sense of the present and is instead dominated by the past and the future. Past and future stand in an organic relation to one another.

What Carus means by this is that the unconscious is in a process of organic development, which he illustrates by analogy with plants. Plants contain within them their own future and past, for instance in their seeds. Carus thinks there is an unconscious psychic analogy to this, which he defines as Promethean and Epimethean tendencies. In using these terms, Carus alludes to Goethe’s drama Pandora of 1807. The characters Prometheus and Epimetheus are each doomed to a different though equally partial temporal consciousness: Prometheus is doomed to push unreflectively into the future, Epimetheus to live always in the shadow of the past. So for Carus the unconscious consists at the same time of those ideas that have fallen from consciousness back into the unconscious, and those ideas that are destined to rise from the uncon- scious back into consciousness.

Perhaps Carus’ theory of the unconscious is ultimately as Goethean, or even Faustian, as it is Aristotelian or Schellingian. For Carus, Faust represents the unconscious. As the Lord says to Mephistopheles in the “Prologue in Heaven,” Faust will eventually find his way to representing the goodness of the human race. Like a plant that grows without any consciousness of the fruit that it will bear, Faust is driven by a “dark impulse” (dunkler Drang), which will ultimately, so the Lord thinks, bear the fruit of humanity. Faust also offers a model for Carus’ conception of time. As a symbol of the unconscious Faust has no sense of the present. Famously, in the wager with Mephistopheles, Faust denies that the present has any rights over him:

If I should bid the moment stay, or try To hold its fleeting beauty, then you may Cast me in chains and carry me away, For in that instant I will gladly die.

Thus Faust’s own words confirm him as “dark impulse,” unconscious of the present moment, tumbling out of the past and lurching into the future." [Thinking the Unconscious]

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PostSubject: Re: The Unconscious Sat Nov 12, 2016 1:49 pm

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Nicholls wrote:
"The expression “psychophysical parallelism” did not, incidentally, originate with Fechner, but later gained widespread acceptance in the German-speaking world, probably via the work of Wilhelm Wundt (1832–1920). As an alternative to the Cartesian dualism between thinking and extended substance, psychophysical parallelism forms the premise for Fechner’s conception of the unconscious, even for his entire thought.

An expression for the facts, as well as for the laws concerning the relationships between them, must be found; an expression which, in regard to the connection between mind and body, avoids any metaphysical interpretation which might exceed the bounds of empirical knowledge. It was precisely the lack of such a commonly accepted expression which had hitherto led to divisions within the field. A metaphysical premise such as the assumption of the existence of an unknowable “soul,” according to Fechner, must not be added to the empirically given in inner and outer experience.

For Fechner, all discussions and investigations of psychophysics merely refer to the appearances of the physical and mental world, to that which either appears immediately through inner or outer perception, or can be inferred from the apparent object; in short: to the physical realm as it is understood by physics and chem- istry and to the psychical realm along the lines of empirical psychology [Erfahrungsseelenlehre], without referring back either to the essence of the body, or to the soul as it is understood by metaphysics.

Fechner spoke against Herbart, was Herbart’s (and Hermann Lotze’s) “monadology”: the view that the soul displays a “simple nature.” Against this, Fechner supported the standpoint of “synechology” – or, in modern language, the systems-theoretical view that psychical qualities are always bound to a physical manifold, and are thus of a systemic nature.

Fechner intended this correlation to be known through the compound “functional dependency” (funktionelle Abhängigkeit), that is, as the type of dependency akin to that found in a mathematical function. The reason for this, according to Fechner, lies in the way that a mathematical function only maintains the dependence of the y-value on the x-value, without thereby necessarily including a cause and effect connection from x to y or vice-versa (or any other metaphysical component). With every causal interpretation of the mind-body correlation, an additional philosophical component comes into play with this mathematical dependency, one which does not (dir- ectly) rest upon experience and is thus of a metaphysical nature.

What, then, does the first version of psychophysical parallelism actu- ally argue? It maintains that all psychical appearances are functionally dependent upon physical appearances, and thus arise in law-like depend- ence upon physical appearances. In other words, there is no psychical change without it being accompanied by a functional physical counterpart. That is why, in 1860, Fechner defined his new science of psychophysics as “an exact theory about the functional connections, or the connections of dependency, between body and soul, or, in more gen- eral terms, between the corporeal and mental, the physical and psychical worlds.” In order to be really precise, this doctrine must strive to supply mathematical expressions for the functional dependence between body and soul.

To achieve this aim, psychophysics must be divided into two branches: outer psychophysics, which investigates the functional relations between the stimuli in the external world and the psychic appearances that are caused by these stimuli, and inner psychophysics, which explores the interdependence of the neuro-physiological conditions of psychic appearances and these appearances themselves. Fechner describes as “psychophysical” (psychophysisch) the parts of the brain which have a direct functional dependence on psychic appearances, while referring to their process of change as “psychophysical activity” (psychophysische Aktivität).

In other words, to make the expression “parallelism” more intelligible, according to psychophysical parallelism in its first form, there is a physical parallel for every psychical appearance, which means that every mental event has a physiological correlate, and every mental event is physically conditioned. In the case of outer psychophysics, it is the physical stimu- lus which runs in parallel with the sensation; for inner psychophysics, it is the psychophysical activity inside the brain of human beings (that is, a physiological process) which runs alongside the psychical process, and which, as Fechner also puts it, represents the material vehicle of the psychical process, and realizes it physically. All of these ways of speaking should in fact express a strict correspondence between psychical and physical appearances, but leave open the question as to which element is dependent on the other.

When two types of hitherto unknown appearances are lawfully corre- lated in this way, the role of causality must still be discovered through a methodical procedure. Barometric variations and changes of weather are actually correlated with each other, but neither phenomenon gives rise to the other nor vice-versa; instead both are evoked by a common cause, the air pressure. Or, to take another example of a similarly non-causal connection which can underlie an empirical parallelism: the kinetic energy of molecules in a gas is correlated with the heat of the gas, but not because the one gives rise to the other, and also not because a common cause stands behind them, but because heat and kinetic energy are identical. To interpret causally a functional dependence between X andY does not mean that in every case X gives rise to Y or vice-versa. It can, as both examples show, also mean that X and Y have a common cause or that X andY are identical with one another.

How does Fechner justify the claims made in the first version of his psychophysical parallelism? In his opinion, it is already universally con- firmed by experience: whenever psychical changes arise, they run in par- allel with physiological changes, or we have good experiential grounds to assume that they do. In this form, parallelism is so well confirmed that it not only expresses an empirical fact, but can be taken to be a maxim of research, a methodological guiding principle of neuro-scientific investigation, or, as Wilhelm Wundt would later put it, an “empirical postulate” of science. Fechner saw a second reason for the validity of psychophysical parallelism’s first form in the theorem of the conservation of energy – or, as it was referred to in German at this time, the Prinzip von der Erhaltung der Kraft (principle of the conservation of force). Were one to seek to grasp the causal efficiency of psychic phenomena and processes without regard to their physical side, one would be denying the self-sufficiency of physical causality, thereby contravening the energy principle. Fechner was thus “the first to have based the theory of the relations between the mental and the corporeal on the consequences arising from the principle of the conservation of energy.”

Almost all physiologists, psychologists and also many philosophers after the 1870s could enter into agreement with psychophysical parallelism in this form. This “empirical parallelism,” as William James called it, might perhaps seem trivial to us today, but it had first to secure its own ground and is today the common property of all empirical sciences applicable to these phenomena. After 1847, biophysics eliminated from physiology the concept of the “life force” (Lebenskraft) as lacking any physical basis. In the middle of the 1870s, any substantial “soul” independent of a physical substrate had also disappeared from physiology and psychology, so that Friedrich Albert Lange could characterize scientific psychology (in an affirmative sense) as “psychology without soul” (Psychologie ohne Seele). The widely held formulation in today’s research literature – “neural correlate of X” or “neural basis of X,” whereby X stands for a psychic phenomenon such as, for example, consciousness – supplies eloquent testimony as to how alive and well psychophysical par- allelism (as an empirical postulate) remains today.

Fechner posited a property dualism: the psychical realm is not an independent essence existing alongside physical bodies; rather, it is a sort of property which can (under certain circumstances still to be explained) belong to physical bodies alongside their physical qualities. A human being is thus not composed of two distinct kinds of substance, as Descartes wanted to say; rather, there is a certain part of the body (namely, the brain) which, alongside its physical properties, also possesses psychical properties. These psychical properties are distinguishable from the physical properties, as well as being causally related to and functionally dependent on them.

An appearance thus means for Fechner a psychic or “inner” appearance if it is given solely to the subject who experiences it: this subject is itself the same entity which appears, either as a whole or in part, to itself alone. Therefore, Fechner also calls the psychic appearances “self-appearances” (Selbsterscheinungen). In contradistinction to Herbart, this “self” (Selbst) is no longer postulated as a metaphysical unity, rather, it only comes to expression, according to Fechner, in the self-reference which is grounded in psychical appearances. By comparison, physical appearances are outer or “alien appearances” (Fremderscheinungen); that is, appearances which are accessible not only to the one who has them, but also to other people through their own perceptions. Again, in contemporary parlance, the states that someone “has” are of an inner kind if they cannot be directly perceived by others, but are attributed to the subject with the help of the “theory of mind” that human beings make use of in social life. The states are external if they (at least potentially) can be directly perceived by everyone, not only by those who have them.

Albert Einstein for example, would pose the question as to how psychical and physical real- ities were related to each other, and who found a thoroughly satisfying answer to this question in the second version of Fechner’s psychophysical parallelism. In 1922, on the occasion of a discussion of the Theory of Relativity, Einstein wrote in a letter to a Swiss magazine: “To avoid a collision between the different sorts of ‘reality’ dealt with by physics and psychology, Spinoza and Fechner invented the theory of psychophysical parallelism, which, to be quite frank, completely satisfies me.”

It has been, however, and certainly remains to the present day, notoriously unclear as to whether this version can be distinguished from epiphenomenalism. This view in fact implies, as is claimed in the first version, that the psychical is correlated with the physical realm, but that the causal effects which the brain exerts as a psychophysical unity are only exerted by virtue of its physical properties – so that the mental realm is a secondary effect, which is not in itself a primary cause.

Finally, one should mention Fechner’s third form of psychophysical parallelism, in which a conjecture is entertained concerning the dissemination of inner appearances in the external world. In the first and second forms, [e]xpressed in simple terms: there is no psychical world without a physical vehicle on which it is functionally dependent (first version), or whose inner-side it represents (second version). The reversal of this functional dependency, that no physical world exists without a psychical correlate, was not asserted or claimed. It was precisely this thesis that Fechner thought himself able to take up only in the speculative third version of psychophysical parallelism. In reversing the first version, it says the following: there is no physical change in the world without a psychical change, and there can be no physical reality without a mind to which it appears internally.

In fact, Fechner is, to the present day, notorious for the permissive way in which he referred to minds or “souls”: according to Fechner, not only are plants and animals “en-souled” because of certain structural or systemic qualities, but also the earth, the planets, and even the whole universe possess inner-sides, which are given as self-appearance, along- side their physical outer-sides. It is also notable that this panpsychism does not purport simply to be an arbitrary assumption, but claims to represent the most probable supplementation of the known psychophys- ical facts.This is not a plea for the very speculative “atomic en-soulment” (Atombeseelung) as Fechner’s contemporaries – the biologist Ernest Haeckel and the astrophysicist Karl Friedrich Zöllner – represented it, but the beginning of a systems theory and of a functionalistic view of the psychical world.

Of course, to this day Fechner’s panpsychism lends itself to amuse- ment, mockery and contempt. Here, however, it is necessary to distin- guish between two questions: firstly, is panpsychism logically possible; and secondly: is it, as Fechner claimed, empirically probable? The revo- lutionary element in Fechner’s view remains the fact that – more than a hundred years before the advent of functionalism in the philosophy of mind – he understood the mind to be a functional state of a material system, independently of its (that is, the mind’s) material basis. The rejection of a soul-substance in Herbart’s sense of that term allows the mind to be understood, in contemporary terms, as “software” which can also “run” on other material systems than human “wetware” alone. Only such a functionalistic view makes it logically possible to impute a mind to a robot, to a computer, or any other system. The Turing Test starts from the premise that a machine might possess or be animated by a mind if it had the same functional structure as a human being – independently of its material characteristics. Whoever accepts the Turing Test as being logically possible must also, however, acknowledge the logical possibility of Fechner’s panpsychism.

So far nothing has yet been said in answer to the second question as to whether there are such systems in our world at all, whether they could exist according to the laws of nature, and whether plants and less intelli- gent animals do in fact possess the material-functional structure attributed to mind-endowed beings. In short: whether this possibility is also in fact realized in our world. In his affirmative answer to this question, Fechner might have overshot the mark by some distance. His proofs are, in this connection, too meager and his enthusiasm turns into endless specula- tion – or perhaps into an esoteric irony which mocks the reader.

Hering, whose own position was close to that of Fechner, was of the conviction that every psychical event is “carried and conditioned” (getragen und bedingt) by organic processes in the nervous system. The processes of and the connections between the phenomena of consciousness would, accord- ing to Hering, need to be explained through the course of physiological processes, which would have to be concretely furnished. The reasons for Hering’s view are exclusively methodological in character. Were one to start out from the existence of psychical processes, to which no physio- logical process corresponds (or, even if a corresponding physiological process could be found, but only in a provisional way), then, according to Hering “any further physiological investigation [would be] pointless.” The assumption of psychical processes in research, without the provision of physiological correlates for them, would amount to an admission that physiological research could be dispensed with in the future. Hering even accuses Helmholtz of reintroducing, through the assumption of psychic activities without the provision of corresponding physiological correlates, something like the notion of a life-force (Lebenskraft):

As we once explained everything that we could not or did not want to investi- gate physiologically through a life force, so there appears now on every third page of a physiological optics the “soul” or the “mind,” the “judgment,” or the “inference” as a deus ex machina, in order to help us over every difficulty.

It is to be emphasized once again that psychophysical parallelism, in spite of its compatibility with the most diverse philosophical meanings, or, as Fechner says, “fundamental views” (Grundansichten), already takes up in its first version a clear position, one which marks the emergence of the new experimental psychology. First of all, the “soul,” in the sense of a substance as it had been for Descartes but also for Herbart and other psychologists of the time, is abolished as a metaphysical premise for psychology; secondly, the centrality of physiology for psychology and the notion that it functions as the “corporeal foundation” (körperliche Unterlage) of the psychical realm, as Fechner called it, became firmly established and thereby also extended beyond the works of Herbart and many others.

The unconscious did not initially stand at the centre of Fechner’s psy- chophysics; rather, it was almost a chance by-product of his theories. At the end of his Elements of Psychophysics (Elemente der Psychophysik),50 Fechner describes how, in the drafting of his Zend-Avesta, he set himself the task “of finding a functional relation between both [i.e. the psychical and physical] modes of appearance.” Finally, the idea came to him to assume no proportional correlation between them, but rather “to make the proportional increase of the living corporeal force [that is, the stimu- lus energy] ... a measure of the increase of the accompanying mental intensity.”

Out of this, he derived the so-called “fundamental formula” (Fundamentalformel), which states that a noticeable increase d γ of a sen- sation γ with the intensification of a physical stimulus ß thus depends on the corresponding raising of the stimulus, that is, d ß/ß. This formula, advanced by Ernst Heinrich Weber as “Weber’s law,” takes into account such empirical knowledge as provided by the following example: the difference in the playing of two violins together in comparison with only one is easily audible; whereas, in a full orchestra, more and more violins must be added, increasing in proportion with the original size of the orchestra, in order to make an audible difference. In the same way, the weight which one must add to an existing weight, in order to achieve a noticeable difference, must be heavier the greater the size of the original weight.

For this reason, it must acquire an external physical stimulus, transmitted with a certain strength, for the correlative psychical appearances to be made conscious at all. In this way, the stimulus must overcome an inner threshold between psychophysical activity and sensation. He had thereby quite unintentionally discovered that the relations between the conscious and unconscious life of representations, sleeping and waking, general and particular phenomena of consciousness, in short the most general relations of the life of the soul, allow a very simple and satisfying psychophysical representation [i.e. modeling] owing to the premise that the threshold concept is transferable onto the psychophysical movement.

The concept of the inner threshold thus became for him a “central concept” (Zentralbegriff) of his inner psychophysics:

For all this, the concept of the psychophysical threshold already has the most important significance in that it provides a firm basis for the concept of the unconscious in general. Psychology cannot abstract from unconscious sensa- tions and from representations.

In opposition to Fechner’s “psychophysical interpretation” of the elementary law of psychophysics, the so-called “physiological interpretation” was pos- ited, which transfers the threshold onto the neural periphery. According to this view, a weak sound, for example, will remain unheard because the stimulus is too weak to transmit the excitation in the auditory nerve to the psychophysical activity in the brain. This is not, according to Müller, because the psychophysical activity in the brain must first exceed a cer- tain threshold, as Fechner had intended.The physiological interpretation thus saw in Fechner’s law an expression for the “friction in the neural machine,” as William James once dramatically put it, while Fechner interpreted it as a threshold phenomenon in the transition between psy- chophysical activity and psychical appearance. Still in 1882 Fechner maintained, in opposition to the physiological view, that it could not offer any “representation of unconscious mental life.” Fechner argued that “insofar as, according to the physiological view, there is no inner threshold, the representation of unconscious life also ceases to exist.”

The transferability of the law of the threshold onto inner psychophysics is, according to Fechner, the decisive question for his psychophysics, even for the possibility of psychophysics at all, and is the pivotal point on which all other aspects of psychophysics depend. Without the law of the threshold, psychophysics would, alongside psychology and physics, only play a modest supporting role as the connecting link between the two, while modifications to or the demise of all other laws of psychophysics, including Weber’s law, would be easier to cope with.

Herbart understands the soul to be a sim- ple substance of unknown quality which is to be postulated metaphysic- ally as a substance that distinguishes itself from other substances:

It originally has neither representations, nor feelings, nor desires; it knows nothing of itself and nothing of other things; moreover, there lie within it no forms of intuition and thinking, no laws of willing and acting; also not even the remotest preparations for any of these.62

If several substances come together – be they souls or material sub- stances – then each will attempt to resist the other and to preserve its original individual qualities against the external disturbance. An inner resistance (Gegendruck) thus emerges and as a result of these “self-pres- ervations” (Selbsterhaltungen) representations arise which are qualitatively dependent on the other substances. Herbart thus attempts to explain all psychical appearances as the result of the pressure and counter-pressure of simple substances.

However, with the great number of other substances to which the soul is permanently exposed, an inner dynamic of representations now arises. These representations reciprocally attract or repel, connect or separate, inhibit or stimulate each other, according to their constitution and inten- sity.Through this, a new, weaker representation can thereby also suppress an older, stronger one below the threshold of consciousness, without this latter representation wholly disappearing:

But thereupon its striving [i.e. the striving of the older representation to assert itself] is not to be regarded as ineffectual ... rather it works with all its powers against the representations located within consciousness. It thus brings about a state of consciousness, the object of which is, at the same time, not represented. If many representations exist in the aforementioned state at the same time, then objectless feelings of anxiety may arise, which are mostly (at the same time) affects, since, with such a wide deviation from the static point [i.e. the threshold], the mood must be very changeable. Physiological conditions can be linked to these underlying circumstances, but can also produce similar effects independently of them.

Herbart thus makes an explicit differentiation between conscious and unconscious representations, without, however, using the latter concept. “The expression: a representation is in consciousness must be distinguished from: I am conscious of my representation. To the latter belongs inner perception, but not to the former.”

Were all of those representations which lie below the threshold – like, for example, those stored in memory – to become conscious or suddenly to impact upon consciousness, we would, according to Herbart, “find ourselves in an incessant state of the most unbearable apprehension; or rather, the human body would become subject to a tension which would cause death in only a few moments.”

In Fechner’s adoption of the concept of the threshold from Herbart’s psychology, the whole metaphysical model of a substantial soul and its self-preservation falls away and the concept of the threshold becomes primarily applied to sensations (Sinnesempfindungen). Fechner distinguishes the “stimulus threshold” (Reizschwelle, also referred to simply as the “threshold”) from the “threshold of difference” (Unterschiedsschwelle). Pressure upon the skin must reach a certain intensity – that of the “stimulus threshold” – before we notice it. When this pressure is further increased, the difference in pressure must reach a certain intensity in relation to the initial stimulus (Ausgangsreiz) for it to be able to be felt: the “threshold of difference.” Fechner grasped the relation of the perceptible increase of the stimulus to the original stimulus itself, which we encountered above in the fundamental formula, as a unit of meas- urement for sensitivity, and established, through countless experiments, thresholds of difference for the different sensory regions (Sinnesgebiete). In this connection, he used three methods in order to determine the measurement of sensation (Empfindlichkeitsmaßes), which have become milestones in experimental psychology, and which focused for the first time upon the genuine statistical constitution of psychical reality.

The closer consideration of the unconscious which is to be found in Fechner’s psychophysics emerges from the phenomena of attention. When we are “all eyes” or “all ears,” and thus concentrating on the seeing of an object or the hearing of a sound, we can, as it is sometimes said, become “oblivious to the world” around us. The threshold of awareness for the eye or the ear sinks, but is raised for the remain- ing senses, so that sensations produced under the latter conditions can remain unconscious. Fechner depicts an especially striking example of this in his Elements of Psychophysics: it may be the case that one lies there with open eyes, reflecting intensely upon something without noticing one’s surroundings. In this situation there may arise the after-image of a visual impression (Seheindruck) that one completely fails to notice, but which becomes conscious as soon as one shuts one’s eyes. “The physical impression was thus made in such a form that the visual sensation (Gesichtsempfindung) could emerge, but so long as the attention was distracted, it remained unconscious but could still enter into consciousness at a later stage.”

The question as to what precisely is to be understood by unconscious sensations had, since the 1870s, strongly determined the reception of psychophysics while also entangling Fechner in many arguments with his critics. One peculiarity of Fechner’s treatment of unconscious sensations is also that, with the further development of the measurement formula, its values of measurement became negative values.This caused especially strong irritation among Fechner’s critics, because we hold negative sensa- tions to be meaningless. Fechner was, however, able to counter this argument.

"Sensations and representations have, in the unconscious state, certainly ceased to exist as real sensations and representations, insofar as one grasps them abstractly and as separated from their foundation. But something goes on in us, the psycho- physical activity, of which the sensations and representations are a function, and on which the possibility of their re-emergence depends, in accordance with the oscillation of life [i.e. natural spontaneous fluctuations], or with specific inner or outer causes, which raise this movement over the threshold; and this movement can also intervene in the play of the conscious psychophysical movements, which belong to other phenomena of consciousness, and call forth alterations within them, the reasons of which remain for us in the unconscious."

"If, in the state of sleep, our [psychophysical] process should fall below this [threshold-] value [i.e. become unconscious], it still contributes to the elevation of general consciousness and its psychical value is not then nothing; rather our consciousness merely has no sense of it any more, in fact its psychical value, as determined by the distance from the point at which it becomes real for us, is negative."

Finally, Fechner also makes an explicit distinction between the terms “unconscious” (unbewusst) and “conscious-less” (bewusstlos). Consciousless processes have no influence on the life of the soul, whereas unconscious processes do.

What we call unconscious or sleeping for consciousness is not, on this account, without influence upon consciousness, and is not to be confused with being conscious-less; in the former state, nothing is distinguishable for consciousness, but rather comes together in a general influence. Whoever goes walking in beautiful surroundings and reflects deeply does not know what sort of birds are singing around him, what sort of trees he encounters; the sun warms and shines; he thinks nothing of it; but yet his soul is otherwise tuned than when he sits in a cold dark room and similarly reflects; the surroundings themselves will certainly have an influence on the form and liveliness of his train of thought; thus all of those unconscious elements are not without influence on his con- sciousness, they are only termed unconscious because they do not distinguish themselves for consciousness according to particular characteristics.

Fechner did not, however, closely investigate the type of effect exerted by the unconscious on the psychical level, but left this to psychology, which he strictly distinguished from psychophysics.

The concept of a negative sensation must not, by the way, be confused with the concept of the opposing quality of a sensation, as was done by some of Fechner’s contemporaries: a negative sensation of heat is not a sensation of cold, but the degree (Ausmass) of psychophysical activ- ity which is still lacking that would make the (unconscious) sensation of heat become perceptible – or, as Fechner puts it in the above quotation, “real” (wirklich) – that is, raising it to consciousness. Negative sensations are not even synonymous with weak sensations, as was likewise assumed. Sensations aroused through strong stimuli can also remain unconscious.

Considered from the perspective of inner psychophysics, the reproach that unconscious activity is purely physical and not mental is likewise to be rejected. Such a reproach would fall back into a Cartesian mode of thinking and overlook the fact that for Fechner the psychical is always coupled with a psychophysical activity, which, in principle, also appears physically. Fechner expressly states that unconscious sensations and representations do not really exist only “insofar as one grasps them
abstractly and as separated from their foundation” (sofern man sie abstract von ihrer Unterlage fasst) – meaning, when one disregards their physical correlates.

If one does not disregard these correlates, and this is certainly expressly demanded by psychophysical parallelism, then the same physical process which in the conscious case is the vehicle of the psychical certainly remains present in unconscious sensations, if only with an attenuated physical intensity. It must thus have a psychical side, only with the difference that this side is not internally given; meaning that it is not conscious. In addition, a measurement for the “depths of the unconscious” (Tiefe des Unbewusstseins) is provided through the negative sensation values, a measurement which once again establishes a functional connection between the physical and the psychical.

For the recognition of the reality of the unconscious, the decisive thing is not whether, according to whatever philosophical interpretation, its psychical nature is guaranteed, but whether processes which were formerly conscious can, through whichever mechanism, also exert an effect on present psychical processes. Precisely this is provided by Fechner: the psychophysical activity, which once was conscious, is still capable of exerting observable effects even when it is no longer correlated with any psychical side.

One might then think, and the cited examples also suggest this, that for Fechner unconscious mental states are only ever preconscious, and are thus principally in fact those which are capable of becoming conscious (bewusstseinsfähig). According to this view, unconscious mental states are not available to consciousness at a certain point in time, but can easily be moved into consciousness through a focusing of the attention. In the Vorschule der Aesthetik, Fechner deals, for example, with the “creative role of fantasy” (schöpferische Rolle der Phantasie) and notes that the source of fantasy, whether it develops from inner or outer causes, is always the same; namely, consciousness:

It is everywhere the echo, sunk into and blended with unconsciousness, of that which was once in consciousness, and which, through this or that outer or inner cause, in this or that combination, can enter consciousness again. Every associated impression is an already complete particular combination, called into consciousness by an external cause ... According to this, we are right to search within the unconscious for the source from which fantasy cre- ates, only not in an Ur-unconscious, it is rather a source which first had to fill itself with contents from consciousness and only through conscious activity can it be emptied again.

An Ur-unconscious (Fechner uses this expression only in this connection) might then be an unconscious that did not originally emerge from consciousness. Three things are to be noted here. First, under the influence of Schelling and his followers, Fechner assumes in his philosophy of nature (as, incidentally, does Charles Sanders Peirce) a conscious “cosmorganic” (kosmorganischer) originary state of nature (Urzustand), out of which organic as well as inorganic nature have developed as products of crystallization (Kristallisationsprodukte) and as the opposing results of a differentiation.

Secondly, Fechner did not support the view that everything that is uncon- scious for the single individual originates in states of mind that have at one time been conscious to him or her. Rather, he holds it to be probable that

"the whole purposeful formation of the embryo today is only the inherited legacy of the first consciously created constitution of the human, which was elabo- rated through a long series of conscious generations. The born human being can therefore only elaborate upon the finer details of this constitution, because he or she received, at birth, the main mental structures as the inheritance of former consciously made acquisitions."

The view that everything unconscious arises out of consciousness may thus, when viewed ontogenetically, not necessarily apply.Third, the door to speculation à la Hartmann or that of the German idealists would be opened under the following conditions: namely, if one is permitted to regard physical processes as carrying unconscious states, even when we know nothing (and can therefore not first form a rational scientific sup- position) about what is happening on those occasions when the inten- sity of the psychophysical activity inherent in the material vehicle of the unconscious oversteps the threshold of consciousness. We can, in other words, only grant an unconscious to that system which is fundamentally capable of consciousness. Accordingly, Fechner argues that Hartmann’s conception of the unconscious violates this fundamental rule.

In the conscious activity of the senses, the activities of all sensory organs are bound together with one another in an overarching consciousness. Fechner adds that the “upper waves” or harmonics of each of the activities of the senses (Sinnestätigkeiten) belong together with one another in a “main wave” (Hauptwelle). The main wave of the total consciousness (Gesamtbewusstsein) must cross a certain level, that of the “main threshold” (Hauptschwelle), in order that the central consciousness (Zentralbewusstsein) be conscious. The upper waves represent the attention, which fluctuates according to time and to particular settings. The individual senses can cross beneath their own thresholds, without the total consciousness ceasing to be conscious:

What [constitutes] separation of consciousness between neighboring levels is only differentiation in consciousness of a higher level ... The sensory areas of our eyes and ears are separated, insofar as neither of them shares their sensations with the other. But the consciousness of the whole human being grasps both as being differentiated; and according to the perspective of human beings the individual intuiting points of the senses are still separated, yet the entire intu- ition of the human being grasps them as a unity which is differentiated.

Should the main wave now sink – for example, in sleep – beneath the main threshold, then there is no main consciousness any more, but indi- vidual upper waves can cross the main threshold. An example of this would be found in dreams, where consciousness exists for separate parts of the psychophysical activity, without these being enclosed (as is the case in the waking state) by the overarching central consciousness of the sleeper. Dreams therefore have a different “scene” (Schauplatz) of appearance, as Fechner puts it. It is as if, through something lacking in the central consciousness, “the psychophysical activity were moving from the brain of a rational person into that of a madman” or, better, into that “of a child or a savage.”What is lacking here is namely that “organization formulated by upbringing.

This image of the relation of sensory consciousness (Sinnesbewusstsein) to total consciousness (Gesamtbewusstsein) can now also be applied to the relation of the individual human consciousness to an overarching consciousness. Although each sense organ has its own “consciousness,” which shares its perception with no other sense, these separate regions of consciousness (Bewusstseinsbereiche) are at the same time held together through the overarching consciousness of the perceiving person. In a similar way, the individual “consciousnesses” of human beings find their unity in an overarching consciousness without the individual consciousness knowing anything about it. The main threshold of this overarching consciousness lies deeper than that of any individual consciousness, so that the unconscious of the single individual corresponds to a conscious psychical correlation in the higher system that embraces it. It is import- ant to recognize that every overarching consciousness must, true to psy- chophysical parallelism, possess a physical vehicle which encloses the bodies of separate individuals, just as our body surely also represents a corporeal system which encloses all of the senses.

Neither the causal law, nor the principle of the conserva- tion of energy, tell us anything about the general direction in which the consequences that they are referring to might lead. The causal law says something about the behavior of the individual parts of a system and the principle of the conservation of energy, as well as something about the total energy of the system (Gesamtenergie) during its development, but this does not suffice to explain the frequency of the occurrence of indi- vidual conditions in the total system. Only through a supplementary law does any information emerge about how the individual effects are exerted with regard to the state of the system as a whole. Such a law possesses a finalistic character, without the goal of development being assumed as given from the outset. (In modern parlance, in the terminology of the evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr, Fechner’s developmental law might be considered as “teleonomic,” but not as “teleological,” in the same way that the second law of thermodynamics also possesses the property of striving for a goal without being teleological.) Only by combining all of the stated laws within such a developmental law does there emerge for Fechner a general concept of the “lawfulness” (Gesetzlichkeit) of a system; only in this way can such knowledge about the total development of a system be gained by referring back to the behavior of the individual parts.

The borderline cases for the behavior of a system are constituted by complete stability, when no part is moving within it, and complete instability, when the parts lawlessly scatter themselves into infinity with- out reference to one another. Between these extremes there lies a spec- trum of different levels of stability: a system becomes more stable when its particles (Teilchen) periodically return to the same state, or into something approximating this state. Thus, there must be a tendency toward full or approximate stability within this intermediate realm (Zwischenbereich).

On closer inspection it emerges that world events as a whole as well as individually are indeed governed by a tendency toward approximate stability. The movements of the planets in the solar system possess approximate stability, since a full stability in their periodic rotations around the sun is hindered by their reciprocal influence on one another. In a similar way, a pendulum would, in the absence of friction, also be fully stable. Furthermore, every organism displays a condition of approximate stability in its functions.The principle of the tendency toward stability, which is subject to all of these experiences, expresses in abstract form the idea that every system that is left to itself under the same external conditions will, over the course of time, approach a condition of approximate or full stability. Strictly speaking, the principle holds only for the world as a whole (Weltganze), because this is the only system that succumbs to no external influences; it holds for parts of the whole only in a modified way.

Of interest to us here, however, are the consequences of these considerations for the unconscious. If, as Fechner’s third version of psychophysical parallelism implies, every physical hap- pening also has a psychical side, then the principle of stability must also possess a psychical significance. The most general form of consciousness is feeling, which shows itself as pleasure or as unpleasure. A pleasurable event is always accompanied by the striving for the preservation of the state of pleasure, while an event generating unpleasure possesses the opposite: striving for the avoidance and elimination of the state of unpleasure. If an unpleasurable state is voluntarily assumed, this is only because it is accompanied by the expectation of a later and longer-lasting pleasurable condition. The more a system develops in this way, the more it comes – analogously to the psychical process of heightened attention – to a con- centration of the acts of consciousness in stable individual aggregates, in which consciousness is refined, improved, and increased, and in which the consciousness of those more stable parts that are subordinate to the aggre- gates sinks below the threshold of consciousness. In this way consciousness is freed for the development of higher functions. Activities which, to begin with, still called for consciousness, thus become unconscious:

Operations in the service of conscious life, which we describe as being purposeful, be they outer or inner, require in every aspect for their first emergence the special direction of conscious activity towards their purpose. But once they have emerged, they require, in order to be repeated, only a general co-activa- tion of consciousness, in which a traceable connection to this purpose has more or less receded. In short: the special form of consciousness which is necessary for the initial emergence of effective operations is no longer required for their repetition.

When we now go back from the cosmic significance of the principle of stability to its significance for human beings, we ascertain from Fechner that those psychophysical movements lying above the threshold are felt to be pleasurable when they tend towards a stable state and unpleasur- able when the state loses its stability. Therefore, the objection cannot even be raised that the condition of absolute peace (or the full stability of inorganic bodies) would have to yield the greatest pleasure, when in the long term it in fact produces only boredom and thus unpleasure. Such a condition is situated below the threshold of consciousness and tends, in the case of boredom, to come closer to this threshold. Fechner speaks of a qualitative threshold pertaining to both pleasure and unpleasure, which in the case of pleasure lies higher and in the case of unpleasure lies lower than the main threshold, which he also in this connection describes as a quantitative threshold.88 Between both thresholds – that is, the qualita- tive threshold and the main or quantitative threshold – there is situated a zone of indifference (Indifferenzzone), in which consciousness is in fact present, but neither pleasure nor unpleasure, because in the approach towards stability the qualitative threshold of pleasure and unpleasure has not yet been crossed. According to circumstances, states of pleasure or unpleasure can also be of an unconscious nature. As Fechner observes:

Psychophysical states, in which the qualitative threshold of pleasure is exceeded, are called, according to the use already introduced earlier, harmonious, those in which that of unpleasure is exceeded, dissonant, those falling between the two, indifferent. Harmonious and dissonant states alike can, however, just as well be conscious as unconscious according to whether the quantitative threshold is crossed or not. And so pleasure and unpleasure alike can thereby recede, through the psychophysical activity or its determination, which is able to carry pleasure or unpleasure along with it, sinking below the quantitative threshold, as well as through sinking below the qualitative threshold; and the intensity of the aesthetic feeling depends at the same time and in compound relations on the crossing of the quantitative and qualitative thresholds.

Fechner also made these reflections into the basis of his aesthetics, in which he deals not only with the crossing of thresholds as pleasure- heightening and thereby more aesthetically appealing, but still with other conditions such as, for example, the unified integration of the manifold. In any case, the human being strives throughout his or her entire life for pleasure and thereby fulfills a tendency which belongs to the whole universe. In this case, the unconscious stands in service of the further and higher development of consciousness. For Fechner, this gives rise to a eudaimonistic ethics, the principle of which he had already expressed in 1846: “The human being should, so much as he can, in general seek to bring the greatest pleasure and the greatest happiness into the world; to seek to bring them into the totality of time and space.”

Fechner finally connected a peculiar conception of death to his the- ories of natural philosophy. As a living or dead being, the human being is for him part of a living whole. Individual human consciousnesses are bound up with the all-consciousness (Allbewusstsein) and merge into it. During our conscious life we are unconscious of the all-consciousness and only in individual consciousness does it cross the threshold. In death we in fact lose the ability as individuals to have conscious experiences, but the experiences acquired during our life persist after the decline of our body, since they are bound up with the material consequences which certainly go on existing after death and which possess a psychical side. Every human being is thus, during his life, creating his future life: “the life beyond of our spirits relates to this life as though it were a living memory of the intuited life from which it grew.” After our lifetime, we continue to exist as memories and representations of the earth, even of the whole universe. And the stronger our connection to other human beings was during our life, the stronger is our memory of them, and the more intensely will we remember them again after our death. Fechner elaborates on these speculations in the following passages:

When I finally close my eyes in death, and my sensory life of intuitions is extin- guished, will a life of recollection not then also be able to awaken in its place in the higher spirit? And when, in the life of intuition, it [i.e. the higher spirit] saw everything brightly and intensely through me, yet only ever just what was there and how it actually pushed itself forth, will now the recollection of all that which belonged to my life of intuitions not, through its own strength – individually less brightly, as a totality livelier and richer – begin to live and to weave, and in relation to and in interaction with the spheres of memory, which the higher spirit gained through the death of others? As truly as my life of intuitions has been the life of an autonomous, self-aware and self-differentiating being within the higher spirit, so too will this also have to be the case in my life of memory.

We do not ... assume that after death we will first sleep for a time in order then to awaken, rather we are spared this sleep, since our future body is already sleeping during this life, in order to awake through death into the future life. We might regard this as a kind of resurrection, in which everything that had become unconscious during our lives and which had sunk into sleep recovers in death the ability to enter into consciousness again or to gain an influence upon consciousness. In the same way that something of our effects extends beyond us, all that which is unconscious sinks into the sleeping body and awakens to consciousness only in death.

As much as Fechner took a pronounced critical stance against the philosophy of German idealism, and although he vehemently rejected all of the scientifically unproven attempts to keep alive the idea of the uncon- scious in the age of natural science, he can also not in the end deny that he and his entire philosophy originally stems from the lineage of Schelling.In comparison, however, with all of the other attempts to secure the unconscious as an element of German idealism and yet also to align it with natural science, Fechner made the greatest progress." [Thinking the Unconscious]

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PostSubject: Re: The Unconscious Sat Nov 12, 2016 2:13 pm

Nietzsche.


Nicholls wrote:
"If we turn to Nietzsche’s unpublished writings of the early 1870s, we find the concept of the unconscious less related to Hartmann, but more in the context of Sprachskepsis (language skepticism), which finds its most articulate expression in the text On Truth and Lies in an Extra-Moral Sense of 1873. There has been immense speculation about the significance of this short text as it seems so obviously to contradict the metaphysical contents of The Birth of Tragedy. Nietzsche mentions this text in the preface to the second part of Human, All too Human (Menschliches, Allzumenschliches, 1886), explaining that he had kept it secret as it con- tradicted or undermined everything which he had expressed publicly. At this time he had ceased to believe in anything, even in Schopenhauer.

In recent years, research has demonstrated that On Truth and Lies had emerged from Nietzsche’s critical reception of philosophical theories of language and can only be understood within this context. This is also valid for Nietzsche’s concept of the unconscious, which, in On Truth and Lies, he relates to his theory of truth.The latter is based upon the assumption that the intellect is a mere tool for self-preservation and cannot access true knowledge at all, remaining always on the level of appearance. “What do human beings really know about themselves!” exclaims Nietzsche, before undertaking an analysis of reason that seeks to explain the existence of an urge for truth under specific historical circumstances.

According to Nietzsche, this urge for truth originated in the attempt to find valid and binding terms for things in order to avoid the harshest “war of all against all” (bellum omnium contra omnes) amongst human beings. Thus, by letting the unreal appear to be real, the creation of language led to the first laws of truth. Language, for Nietzsche, does not have any access to a “thing in itself”; it merely depicts human relations to things. The progenitors of language used metaphors to transfer nervous stimuli into images and images into tones. This consideration leads to Nietzsche’s famous definition of truth as a mobile army of metaphors, metonymies, anthropomorphisms, in short a sum of human relations which have been subjected to poetic and rhetorical intensification, translation, and decoration, and which, after they have been in use for a long time, strike a people as firmly established, canonical, and binding; truths are illusions of which we have forgotten that they are illusions, metaphors which have become worn by frequent use and have lost all sensuous vigor.

With regard to the theme of the unconscious, the aspect of forgetting alluded to by Nietzsche is of great importance, since Nietzsche concludes that through his forgetting, the human being becomes an unconscious liar. The unconscious is therefore the condition which underlies our belief in truth.

As a number of scholars have shown convincingly, the language-philosophical contents of Nietzsche’s On Truth and Lies are derived from his study of Gustav Gerber’s Language as Art (Die Sprache als Kunst, 1871).

The appeal of Gerber’s concept of metaphorical transference for Nietzsche can be explained by his lively interest in the theory of “unconscious inferences,” which was widely discussed in those years. In particular two scientists caught Nietzsche’s attention: the astrophysicist Karl Friedrich Zöllner (1834–82) and the physiologist Hermann von Helmholtz (1821–94).

Nietzsche’s epistemological considerations in the years before On Truth and Lies are shaped by his reception of the theory of unconscious inferences. But this theory was gradually replaced by Gerber’s theory concerning the transference of images: “Unconscious inferences arouse my suspicion: it is probably more a case of the transition from image to image.” There are different opinions about the decisiveness of this substitution. Fragment 19 seems to suggest that Nietzsche completely abandoned Zöllner’s concept:

Our sensory perceptions are based on tropes, not on unconscious inferences. Identifying similar thing with similar thing – discovering some similarity or other in one thing or another thing is the primordial procedure. Memory thrives on this activity and constantly practices it. Misapprehension is the primordial phenomenon.

This is the background against which Nietzsche’s published writings emerge. Nietzsche himself gives an indication as to how the Nachlass of this time should be evaluated when he tells us that On Truth and Lies had already anticipated the enlightened and critical spirit of Human, All Too Human. But the Nachlass and the published writings seem to have at least a common theoretical horizon that links the language critique with the anti-Socratic thoughts of The Birth of Tragedy. One of those aspects is his understanding of the unconscious. In an unpublished fragment, written between September 1870 and January 1871, Nietzsche writes:

Any expansion of our knowledge evolves out of making the unconscious conscious. Now one wonders which sign-language we have for this purpose. Some knowledge is only present for some people and other knowledge can, in an appropriately prepared mood, be recognized.

Yet Nietzsche does not relate knowledge to the human liberation from the forces of nature or moral purification, but sees it as aiming at the destruction of the world.This is his argument against Socratic optimism. In another fragment, he opposes the belief in knowledge with his hopes in relation to the unconscious, which, in this context, correspond with his notion of the Dionysian: “The destruction of the world through knowledge! Recreation through strengthening of the unconscious!” Thus the question of which sign-language we possess to transfer the unconscious into consciousness is the main concern of Nietzsche’s language-skeptical (sprachskeptische) reflections in the Nachlass up to On Truth and Lies, where he describes the metaphorical character of language as the basis of illusory truth. According to this, knowledge is not only destructive, but also impossible, which is something that the unconscious liar has forgotten.

In aphorism 119 from Daybreak, entitled “Experience and Invention” (Erleben und Erdichten), one finds a connection with Nietzsche’s earlier reflections on the unconscious in On Truth and Lies. Here he argues that consciousness is incapable of attaining a general overview of all the drives: their number and strength, their highs and lows, their play and counter-play, and especially the laws of their nutrition will always be unknown to the conscious mind. The dream is a compensation for the missing fulfillment of the drives, its contents are “interpretations of nervous stimuli we receive while we are asleep, very free, very arbitrary interpretations of the motions of the blood and intestines.”

The creative reason fantasizes about causes for these nervous stimuli, which are the results of the different drives seeking discharge. According to Nietzsche, this poetic creation of images is not only the modus operandi of the dreaming consciousness, but also of the waking state. The so-called conscious mind is a “more or less fantastic commentary on an unknown, perhaps unknowable, but felt text.” Nietzsche’s argument that the struggle between contradictory drives in the body is the unknown cause of our actions is not restricted to the discharge of basic drives such as those pertaining to nourishment or sexuality. He also employs it in the realm of morality – where he sees moral judgments and values as being conscious images and fantasies that emerge from unknown physiological processes – and in relation to the human belief in logic:

The cause of logical ideas and inferences in our brain today corresponds to a process and a struggle among impulses that are, taken singly, very illogical and unjust. We generally experience only the result of this struggle because this primeval mechanism now runs its course so quickly and is so well concealed.

Here one also thinks of Nietzsche’s famous statement from the Preface to The Gay Science, according to which philosophy has never been anything other than an interpretation of the body and a misunderstanding of the body.

Nietzsche calls consciousness the last and latest development to emerge from the organic. Accordingly, it is deficient, untested and therefore dangerous to mankind. Only the remaining alliances of the instincts allow the human being to avoid the innumerable mistakes of the conscious mind. This topic had been an interest of Nietzsche’s dating back to his student days, when he declared self-observation to be a developmental disease, arguing that only the unconscious instincts provide a secure guide for every deed. Nietzsche later linked this critique of consciousness and the ego with his language skepticism: language, as an attempt to make the inner processes of the subject conscious, is thereby regarded as the main obstacle to knowing them at all. Reason, which is always expressed in words, can only ever simplify in an unacceptable way the most extreme forms and conditions of the drives: “We are none of us that which we appear to be in accordance with the states for which alone we have consciousness and words, and consequently praise and blame.” When the human being constructs an opinion of himself via this wholly inadequate mediation of inner processes, he creates the ego.

The question then arises as to why human beings have developed consciousness at all, if its imperfect and illusory character seems to threaten their existence. Nietzsche explains this by the pressure of the need for expression. The ability to communicate one’s needs has become an important tool for surviving. Inner processes become conscious via language. But owing to the categorizing and metaphorical character of language, our conscious world “is only a surface- and sign world, a world that is made common and meaner.”

These considerations lead to Nietzsche’s philosophical thoughts of the late 1880s, in which he calls the differentiation between a “true” and a “false” world a “suggestion of decadence,” and refuses to accept the assumption of a “true” world behind the apparent one.

From the beginning, Nietzsche did not try to understand the unconscious ex negativo as a lack of consciousness, as the philosophers of the Enlightenment had suggested it to be. Instead he tried to reverse this understanding of Western thought: according to Nietzsche, consciousness is an inadequate adaptation to the environment which is derived from organic processes that were originally unconscious:

Behind your thoughts and feelings, my brother, stands a mighty commander, an unknown sage – he is called self. He lives in your body, he is your body. There is more reason in your body than in your best wisdom. And who knows for what purpose your body requires precisely your best wisdom.

In the context of his theory of the will to power, Nietzsche maintained the conviction that consciousness is a secondary phenomenon. According to Nietzsche the world is nothing other than will to power, from which it follows that the actual agents of life are unconscious processes of power. Drives can give us a partial impression of these processes of power, but of course this information is incomplete, metaphorical, and simplified: “the whole of the human being has all those qualities of the organic, which partially remain unconscious, partially become conscious in the form of drives.”

Undergoing constant change, the will to power is by no means a universal metaphysical concept, but a plurality of power quanta, struggling for an increase of power. To achieve this aim, these entities merge to form more successful units of power. This is how Nietzsche explains the creation of consciousness, which results from the attempt to occupy a dominant perspective in order to gain protection from the outside. Here it is important to note that this accumulation of power quanta can only be sustained as long as it allows for the possibility of preserving the status quo or increas- ing power. In that sense Nietzsche understands the conscious ego as a transitory expression of the unconscious struggles between power quanta.

It has to be doubted that the concept of the unconscious (as opposed to consciousness) can still be used in an accurate way, when consciousness itself is suspended. The latter has been described as a temporary and transitory effect of the will to power, which will be maintained as long as it achieves an increase in its own power. If the world is a struggle between the interpretations of power quanta, and the conscious subject only its temporary expression, it follows that the concept of human consciousness (as opposed to the unconscious) is an inadequate and unnecessary introduction of a dualistic principle, a deficient linguistic expression based upon metaphysical prejudices. A transcendental dualism of this kind is precisely what Nietzsche’s theory of the will to power tries to argue against. Seen in this light, the concept of the unconscious becomes an abbreviation and a metaphorical reformulation achieved through language. It is itself an interpretation, an expression of the will to power as its highest form: the attempt to impose being, stasis, and theoretical structure upon processes of transition and becoming.

Nietzsche’s arguments concerning the will to power lead to a severe problem. If the world is will to power and nothing else, and if the will to power dissolves all dualisms such as conscious/unconscious, ego/non-ego, and subject/object, then there can be no scale upon which to measure the increase of power any more. Consequently, it becomes impossible to grasp the will to power within this stream of becoming at all, at least not on the basis of our conscious understanding.

With regard to the history of the unconscious it is important to note that Nietzsche’s late concept of the world as a plurality of will to power quanta, which he uses first and foremost to attack metaphysics, extinguishes the concept of the unconscious.

By the time of The Gay Science, Nietzsche had already abandoned the theory of Apollonian appearance and Dionysian primal origin (Urgrund). Here, he approached the problem of the accessibility of reality with a certain kind of intellectual refinement, by reducing the possible knowledge of reality in an almost phenomenological manner to the consciousness of appearance:

How wonderful and new and yet how gruesome and ironic I find my position vis-à-vis the whole of existence in the light of my insight! I have discovered for myself that the human and animal past, indeed the whole primal age and past of all sentient being continues in me to invent, to love, to hate, and to infer. I suddenly woke up in the midst of this dream, but only to the consciousness that I am dreaming and that I must go on dreaming lest I perish – as a somnambulist must go on dreaming lest he fall: What is “appearance” for me now?

Consciousness is depicted as a necessary appearance because of its life-preserving character. At the same time, Nietzsche links this thought to questions concerning the possibility of knowledge. Nietzsche’s discussion of the dreamer is a critique of Parmenides’ conception of Being as the ground of truth. For Nietzsche, even when the dreamer awakens from his dream, he does not arrive at a stable position comparable to “truth”; rather, he gains an awareness of the fact that he is part of a dream. Despite Nietzsche’s rejection of any faculty of “true” knowledge, he maintains the necessity of the dream for survival. The dream, for Nietzsche, is an expression of the interconnectedness of all knowledge, upon which subjects must agree in order for life to be possible; it is the common intelligibility of the dream amongst a variety of dreamers that enables the dream to continue. Whereas in The Birth of Tragedy the unity of mankind and the reconciliation with nature had been understood as a result of Dionysian ecstasy, the explanation of this process of unification has now been shifted into the – to use the language of The Birth of Tragedy – Apollonian realm of knowledge. In this way, reason as the metaphysical idea of the primal one becomes mere appearance for Nietzsche.

At the end of Nietzsche’s philosophical development, the moment of collectivity – initially based on a metaphysical concept in The Birth of Tragedy, and then described by the “middle period” Nietzsche as a necessary illusion – is finally undermined by the plurality of the will to power. The “apparent” world is the only one; the “true” world, more- over, has been a deception, says Nietzsche in Twilight of the Idols (Götzen- Dämmerung, 1889).65 He understands the world as a realm of constant becoming, as a continuous power struggle between different perspectives. As a fragmented form of the will to power, the Dionysian does not know a general basic collectivity, only a plurality of power quanta that increase, compete with one another, or fall apart. Thus, in the context of the late Nietzsche, both the differentiation between conscious and unconscious, as well as Nietzsche’s early understanding of the unconscious as a collective entity, dissolve against the background of the will to power. Nietzsche’s late understanding of the world as a plurality of competing power quanta, a notion which he uses to attack the very foundations of Western metaphysics, also undermines all theoretical conceptions of the unconscious." [Thinking the Unconscious]

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PostSubject: Re: The Unconscious Sat Nov 12, 2016 2:46 pm

Dreams.

Nietzsche wrote:
"In the outbreaks of passion, and in the fantasising of dreams and insanity, a man re-discovers his own and the mankind’s prehistory: animality with its savage grimaces; on these occasions memory goes sufficiently far back, while his civilised condition evolves out of forgetting these primal experiences, that is to say out of a relaxation of his memory." [Daybreak, 312]

Freud wrote:
"We can now guess how much to the point is Nietzsche’s assertion that in dreams ‘some primeval relic of humanity is at work which we can now scarcely reach any longer by a direct path’; and we may expect that the analysis of dreams will lead us to a knowledge of man’s archaic heritage, of what is psychically innate to him." [The Interpretation of Dreams]

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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