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1939 Heinz Kohut (1913-1981) was forced to emigrate from Vienna to Chicago when the Nazis took power. He was trained as a medical doctor in Austria but became known as Mr. Psychoanalysis in America where he played a central role in the twentieth-century psychoanalytic movement (Strozier 2001).

1966 Academics challenged the scientific establishment’s faith in objective science creating a schism among academics. Abraham H. Maslow contributed to the debate in his influential book entitled The Psychology of Science: a Renaissance (1966). In it he argued that by integrating experience (practice) and abstraction (theory), he wished to enlarge not destroy science.  However, Maslow rejected the concept of a neutral observer removed from reality and experience. Rifkin described how Maslow following Goethe and Kohut argued for more sensitive observers capable of incorporating more of the world into the self. These emphatic observers identify with “wider and more inclusive circles of living and nonliving things (Maslow 1966).” Maslow used AA as an argument for the legitimacy of knowledge claims from experience versus theory. Rifkin (2009:610) referred to Maslow’s “receptive strategy” of knowing in section entitled “Teaching Emphatic Science” in the chapter entitled “Biosphere Consciousness in a Climax Economy” in The Emphatic Civilization (2009). He cited Maslow:

“Can all the sciences, all knowledge be conceptualized as a resultant of loving and caring interrelationship between knower and known? What would be the advantages to us of setting this epistemology alongside the one that now reigns in “objective science”? Can we simultaneosly use both?” (Maslow 1966).

1970s The Chicago Institute had a lively intellectual atmosphere was polarized into two factions those who supported Freudian traditional psychoanalysis with its emphasis on drives (instinctual motivations of sex and aggression), internal conflicts, and fantasies and individual guilt and those who accepted Kohut’s empathic approach which embraced the post WWII zeitgeist with is emphasis on how issues of identity, meaning, ideals, and self-expression impact on emotional needs and concerns (Strozier 2001).

1978 The first self psychology conference was held in Chicago. Kohut replaced Freud’s structural theory of the id, ego, and superego with his own concept of the tripartite self (Flanagan 1996), self psychology with its emphasis on relationships. One’s “self states,” including one’s sense of worth and well-being, are met in relationships with others.

1980 A major conference on history and psychoanalysis was organized by Arnold Goldberg and Heinz Kohut.

Webliography and Bibliography

Rifkin, Jeremy. 2009. The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World of Crisis. New York: Jeremy T. Tarcher.

Strozier, Charles B. 2001 “Heinz Kohut: The Making of a Psychoanalyst.” New York:Farrar, Straus & Giroux.  See also this critical review of Strozier’s biography.

Flanagan, L.M. 1996. “The theory of self psychology”. In (Eds.) Berzoff, J., Flanagan, L.M., & Hertz, P. Inside out and outside in, New Jersey:Jason Aronson Inc.)

Maslow, Abraham H. 1966. The Psychology of Science: a Renaissance. South Bend: Gateway Editions, Ltd.  McIsaac, David S. 1997. “Empathy Reconsidered: New Directions in Psychotherapy. Washington: American Psychological Association. (McIsaac 1997:248 cited in Rifkin EC 2009) ftn 19

Kohut, Heinz. 1978. The Psychoanalyst in the Community of Scholars.” In Paul H. Ornstein Ed. The Search for the Self: Selected Writings of Heinz Kohut: 1950-1978. Vol. a. New York: International University Press. (Kohut 1978:702 cited in Rifkin EC 2009) ftn 20

Ornstein, Paul H.  Ed. The Search for the Self: Selected Writings of Heinz Kohut: 1950-1978. Vol. a. New York: International University Press. (Kohut 1978:82 cited in Rifkin EC 2009) ftn 21

Paul H. Ornstein Ed. The Search for the Self: Selected Writings of Heinz Kohut: 1950-1978. Vol. a. New York: International University Press. (Kohut 1978:714 cited in Rifkin EC 2009) ftn 22

Ornstein, Paul H.  Ed. The Search for the Self: Selected Writings of Heinz Kohut: 1950-1978. Vol. 1. New York: International University Press. (Kohut 1978:529 cited in Rifkin EC 2009) ftn 23

Ornstein, Paul H.  Ed. The Search for the Self: Selected Writings of Heinz Kohut: 1950-1978. Vol. 1. New York: International University Press. (Kohut 1978:707 cited in Rifkin EC 2009) ftn 24

Memory: Floods and Flows

December 9, 2009


Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has been collecting and analysing data on the question, “What is the good life?” since 1967. He explores issues such as the structure of everyday life, develops well-known concepts such as psychic entropy and challenge-skill ratio (CSR). MC’s flow model and the Experience Sampling Method blend the science of pyschology and folksy-self-help (1997) He reveals that the moments of flow where an individual experiences a good challenge-skill ratio, are likely to happen at work (2000:121-123) although they can also occur when an artist is at work in her studio, or a Nintendo players is up to her game.

Memory: Floods and Flows

“The American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has written about the concept of flow, which is the feeling we have of being completely focused on and absorbed in the work we are doing. An artist painting a picture who is so engrossed in his work that he becomes unaware of himself and the passage of time is in a state of flow. Flow can also be attained when a surgeon performs a difficult operation in which she has to use all her abilities and skills. What Csikszentmihalyi has tried to do is identify the circumstances that elicit flow. He reasons that if we analyze situations in terms of the challenges they present and the skills of the person involved in them, we find that flow arises in contexts characterized by a high level of challenge and skill, in which capacity of the doer exactly matches the demands of the task being done (Klingberg 2009:167-8).”

“Considering Csikszentmihalyi’s diagram as a cognitive map with north at the top, it is in the northeast sector where we find the state of flow. When the challenge exceeds skill, we get stres. When skill exceeds challenge we get a sense of control, which becomes boredom as the level of challenge drops. Exchange “skill” for “working memory capacity” and “challenge” for “Information overload,” and perhaps we have a map illustrating the subjective side of the information demand. When this demand exceeds our capacity, we experience the relative attention deficit due north of the map. However, we should not simply avoid these demands, for when they are too low we become bored and apathetic. In other words, there is a reason for us to cater to our need for stimulation and information. It is when demand and capacity, or skill and challenge, are in a state of equilibrium that the situation is conducive to flow. And perhaps it is precisely here, where we exploit our full capacity, that we develop and train our abilities (Klingberg 2009:168)”

“While our working memory load exactly matches working memory capacity and we hover around the magical number seven, the training effect is its most powerful. Now that we know this, it is up to us to control our environments and reshape the work we do to our abilities. Let us hope that we can learn to perfect the compass that will show us where to find balance and help us navigate into the northeast corner of the map, where we can feel the flow and develop to our full capacity (Klingberg 2009:169).” Read the rest of this entry »


Michael S. Gazzaniga [1] argued that our beliefs about the world and the nature of human experience are merely tendentious and our memories fallible. Therefore we should rely not on “the ubiquitous personal belief systems held by billions of people (which he describes as akin to believing in Santa Claus (Gazzaniga 2005:163) but on modern science to seek out, understand and define our universal ethics grounded in the natural order (Gazzaniga 2005:178). From his viewpoint great religions of the world were conceived by ill-informed humans (not received from the Divine) who lacked competing data about the essence of the natural world (Gazzaniga 2005:162). He explains religious experiences as Temporary Lobe Epilepsy (TLE). He compares the conception of a fetus to the “conception” of a house at Home Depot. When is a fetus a person? When is a house a house? Gazzaniga believes that a fertilized egg is hardly deserving of the same moral status we confer on the newborn child or the functioning adult (Gazzaniga 2005:17-8). He also argued that the aging brain’s level of consciousness should be assessed by scientific means and euthanasia considered as an option (Gazzaniga 2005:33). His reasoning is not robust and appears to be directed to those already converted to his belief system.

However, it is his argument for brain enhancement through genetic intervention that causes a shiver of repugnance:

“Perhaps we should be free to try whatever we can think to try- this is the nature of scientific inquiry. Let an innate moral-ethics system assert itself and stop us from going too far. We have never annihilated ourselves; we have managed to stop short of doing that so far. I am confident that we will always understand what is ultimately good for the species and what is not (Gazzaniga 2005:54).”

One wonders on what planet he has been living.

We are currently listening to political debates around the clock as two nations head to the polls. Different value systems clash as “facts” are presented on each side of debates over contentious issues. We live in a time when scientific facts themselves are challenged as informed readers inquire about motivation and agendas of scientific researchers. Who finances the research? We are all too aware of the ease with which policy makers and decision makers choose comfortable truths over the uncomfortable.

Gazzaniga oversimplifies the awe-inspiring mind-soul-spirit by reducing humans to the chemical brain. He grossly underestimates followers of religions capable of making ethical decisions by considering both scientific information and their religious principles.

He argued that universal ethics are social, contextualized, influenced by emotions and natural survival-instincts. Whether your guide in life is simply “received wisdom” or “the confluence of neuroscientific data, historical data, and other information illuminating our past” he claim s we all share the same hard-wired moral networks and systems and therefore respond in similar ways to similar issues. He further claims that social systems explain individual feelings which are institutionalized into social structure (Gazzaniga 2005:162).”

According to his logic philosophers involved in neuroethics[2] should “use understandings of the brain’s hard-wiring to contextualize and debate gut instincts that serve the greatest good- or the most logical solutions- given specific contexts (Gazzaniga 2005:178).”

“Neuroscience reads brains, not minds. The mind, while completely enabled by the brain, is a totally different beast (Gazzaniga 2005:119).”

Gazzaniga (2005:iv-v) describes neuroethics as a spin-off of bioethics [which] was developed and defined to take medical ethics further, as scientific findings became more advanced and needed more specialized philosophers thinking about what is acceptable and unacceptable in areas like genetic engineering, reproductive science, defining brain death, and so on. [. . . Neuroethics are involved] whenever a bioethical issue involves the brain or central nervous system (2005: v).”

“We now step into the world of neuroethics. This is the field of philosophy that discusses the rights and wrongs of the treatment of, or enhancement of, the human brain.” “Was the medical team acting ethically, putting the patients’ interests first, or was it influenced by the humanitarian prospect of the advancement of specific knowledge about the brain — or by the attraction of the world fame and professional prestige that would follow a high achievement?” “Not just neurosurgeons but other brain scientists are thinking long and hard about the morality (right or wrong) and the ethics (fair or unfair) of what such breakthroughs as genomics, molecular imaging and pharmaceuticals will make it possible for them to do.” “In the treatment or cure of brain disease or disability, the public tends to support neuroscience’s needs for closely controlled and informed experimentation. But in the enhancement of the brain’s ability to learn or remember, or to be cheerful at home or attentive in school, many of the scientists are not so quick to embrace mood-manipulating drugs or a mindless race to enhance the mind (Safire 2003-07-10).”

“The brain’s ethical sense may run deeper than we think. ”The essence of ethical behavior,” writes the neuroscientist Antonio Damasio in Looking for Spinoza, his newest book, ”does not begin with humans.” Ravens and vampire bats ”can detect cheaters among the food gatherers in their group and punish them accordingly.” Though human altruism is much further evolved, in one experiment ”monkeys abstained from pulling a chain that would deliver food to them if pulling the chain caused another monkey to receive an electric shock. Damasio does not believe that there is a gene for ethical behavior or that we are likely to find a moral center in the brain. But we may one day understand the ”natural and automatic devices of homeostasis” — the brain’s system that balances appetites and controls emotions, much as a constitution and a system of laws regulates and governs a nation (Safire 2003-07-10).”

“[Brain] scientists . . . debate going beyond the cure of disease to the possibilities of meddling with memory or implanting a happy demeanor (Safire 2003-07-10).”

“Maybe the human brain has a self-defense mechanism that causes brain scientists to pause before they improve on the healthy brain. Would we feel guilty about discovering the chemistry of conscience (Safire 2003-07-10)?”

Folksonomy, taxonomy, tags, key words, classification, semantic web

cognitive neuroscience: moral and ethical aspects, ethics, Damasio, science and religion, chemical conscience, meddling with memory, permalink,

Health

Notes

  1. Michael S. Gazzaniga is President of the American Psychology Society, and director of the Center of Cognitive Neuroscience at Dartmouth College.
  2. According to Gazzaniga it was William Safire who coined the term neuroethics to describe the field of philosophy that discusses the rights and wrongs of the treatment of, or enhancement of, the human brain.”
  3. The Dana Foundation: “The Dana Foundation is a private philanthropy with principal interests in brain science, immunology, and arts education. Charles A. Dana, a New York State legislator, industrialist and philanthropist, was president of the Dana Foundation from 1950 to 1966 and actively shaped its programs and principles until his death in 1975.”
  4. Some of these bibliographic entries were inserted using Zotero’s capacity to let “users choose a citation format, such as Chicago, MLA, APA, or others. To add a source from Zotero, a user simply drags that source into an application such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs [and WordPress!!!!], and a properly formatted citation is inserted. Zotero also generates a bibliography of all the sources included in a paper.” I did not choose my preferred citation format or generate the bibliography in the proper Zotero mode yet. This needs tweeking on my part but it was successful.

Citations from Antes, Geertz and Warne (2004).

4. “Body, Emotion, and Consciousness: The Portuguese born neurologist at the University of Iowa College of Medicine and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Antonio R. Damasio, has argued in a number of books that studies of the brain, cognition and consciousness are seriously hampered because neuroscientists traditionally ignore the role of functions and emotions in the brain. 47 He claims that “it is possible that feelings are poised at the threshold that separates being from knowing and thus have a privileged connection to consciousness” (Damasio 1999:43). Emotions are at a fairly high level of life regulation, and when they are sensed, that is when one has ‘feelings,’ the threshold of consciousness has been crossed. Emotions are part of homeostasis, which is the automatic regulation of temperature, oxygen contentration or pH in the body by the autonomatic nervous system, the endrocrine system and the immune system. According to Damasio, homeostasis is the key to consciousness (Damasio 1999:40). Damasio defined consciousness as constructing knowledge about two facts: “that the organism is involved in relating to some object, and that the object in the relation causes a change in the organism” (Damasio 1999:20). Understanding the biology of consciousness becomes, then, a matter of discovering “how the brain can map both the two players and the relationship they hold” (Damasio 1999:20). The interesting thing is that the brain holds a model of the whole thing, and this may be the key to understanding the underpinnings of consciousness (Antes, Geertz, Warne 2004:365).”

“[Damasio’s] explanation for this enigma is precisely as follows: “I have come to the conclusion that the organism, as represented inside its own brain, is a likely biological forerunner for what eventually becomes the elusive sense of self. The deep roots for the self, including the elaborate self which encompasses identity and personhood, are to be found in the ensemble of brain devices which continuously and nonconsciously maintain the body state within the narrow range and relative stability required for survival. These devices continually represent, nonconsciously, the state of the living body, along its many dimensions. I call the state of activity within the ensemble of such devices the proto-self, the nonconscious forerunner for the levels of self which appear in our minds as the conscious protagonists of consciousness: core self and autobiographical self.” (Damasio 1999:20) cited in (Antes, Geertz, Warne 2004:365).”

“This is, indeed, a radical embodiment theory and should be of interest to scholars of religion involved in studies of central religious concepts such as personalities, personhood, selves and souls. The very fact of plurality of selves in Damasio’s model should prove useful to the study of religions that deal with multiple selves and souls (Antes, Geertz, Warne 2004:365).”

Webliography and Bibliography

Antes, Peter; Geertz, Armin W.; Warne, Randi R. 2004. Cognitive Approaches to the Study of Religion. Walter de Gruyter: Berlin/New York.

Anthony Damasio, The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness (New York: Harcourt, 1999).

Brain-Based Education – Summary Principles of Brain-Based Research, Critiques of Brain-Based Education,”

Michael S. Gazzaniga, The Ethical Brain (New York: Dana Press, 2005).

Henry T. Greely, “Prediction, Litigation, Privacy, and Property: Some Possible Legal and Social Implications of Advances in Neuroscience,” in Neuroscience and the Law: Brain, Mind, and the Scales of Justice . Dana Press.

Safire, William. 2003-07-10. “The Risk that Failed.” New York Times.

Educause, “7 Things You Should Know About Geolocation,” 2008,


Dendrons, Pisces and the CosmosThis layered image 1440 x 900 at 300 dpi is one stage of the development of my next digitage entitled "Digitage Web2.0 Plus." It is an update on Logo Digitage ( http://snurl.com/25nqe ) in my Flickr album that was the basis for slideshare.net .ppt called Deconstructing Digitage: Web 2.0 as Organic Rhizomic Synapses which has had 1859 views since first uploading 8 months ago.

A comment from slideshare.net cofounder Amit Ranjanon ( http://snurl.com/266mt ) on the .ppt about the low resolution along with the need for .ppt default sizes for to increase shareability, led me to revisit the original .psd file and the .jpg components.

Each layer is being revisited and updated as I learn more about Adobe Photoshop tools and more about each of the component metaphorical images embedded in the many layers. At the same time I am learning more about the organic growth of Web 2.0 Plus (also called Web 3.0, etc). Aggregators and microblogging technologies like twitter http://snurl.com/25t6 have enhanced and simplified connectivity while confusing virtual cartographic projects to visualize the blogosphere as it grows exponentially. I learn from others and also by playing with new technological tools. I remain a bricoleuse, better able to find things in the virtual thrift stores that might come in handy one day. I don’t like to learn by following anymore than the basic instructions and the need-to-know-how things for reasons of security or time-efficiency.

This entry is posted on speechless.

Folksonomy for Flickr

View ocean.flynn’s map
Taken in a place with no name (See more photos or videos here)
This layered image 1440 x 900 at 300 dpi is one stage of the development of my next digitage entitled “Digitage Web2.0 Plus.” It is an update on Logo Digitage ( snurl.com/25nqe ) in my Flickr album that was the basis for slideshare.net .ppt called Deconstructing Digitage: Web 2.0 as Organic Rhizomic Synapses which has had 1859 views since first uploading 8 months ago.

A comment from slideshare.net cofounder Amit Ranjanon ( snurl.com/266mt ) on the .ppt about the low resolution along with the need for .ppt default sizes for to increase shareability, led me to revisit the original .psd file and the .jpg components.

Each layer is being revisited and updated as I learn more about Adobe Photoshop tools and more about each of the component metaphorical images embedded in the many layers. At the same time I am learning more about the organic growth of Web 2.0 Plus (also called Web 3.0, etc). Aggregators and microblogging technologies like twitter snurl.com/25t6 have enhanced and simplified connectivity while confusing virtual cartographic projects to visualize the blogosphere as it grows exponentially. I learn from others and also by playing with new technological tools. I remain a bricoleuse, better able to find things in the virtual thrift stores that might come in handy one day. I don’t like to learn by following anymore than the basic instructions and the need-to-know-how things for reasons of security or time-efficiency.

Flickr groups to which this image belongs: Art & Theory Nobs (Pool), Folksonomy (Pool); Digg It Flickr. Pool (Pool) [X]

Flickr folksonomy: folksonomy, flickr, digitage, creation, creativecommons, connectivity, blogging, adobephotoshop, 1440×900, microblogging, mindbrain, mind, neuralarchitectonics, neuroscience, portrait, powerpoint, powerpointbackground, presentation, raptureofthedeepinternet, reflexivity, rhizome, sharingpresentations, selfportrait, slides, slideshare, synapses, synapticgasp, tagclouds, tagging, taxonomy, technology, theoryinpictures, twitter, vastation, visualization, visualizations, web20, wordpresscom,


Digitage on Barbara Kruger's Nature/Culture Barbara Krueger’s (1983) “We Won’t Play Nature to your Culture” somehow comes to mind when reading Žižek on nature/culture.

During breaks I would walk through empty rooms to discover changes curators had made in their spaces. I was a teenager when I began to feel at home in the silent, often light-filled buildings that held public art collections. I was annoyed by, resented, then was intrigued by, read about, studied, spent time with pieces that came to be my favourites. Visual artists were deeply informed about and experimenting with emerging, complex theories, cultural studies, political philosophy . . . academics did their best to avoid them until it became impossible to do so.

Reading Slavoj Žižek’s Organs without Bodies is a lot like my non-linear NGC meanderings in the 1990s. His writing provokes me but there is enough brilliance there that makes me keep his book in the reading stand beside my monitor, opened at different pages on different days. He is not a lazy thinker. Each page is like a hypertext reader indexing a myriad of artists, philosophers, scientists and entrepreneurs. He discusses Hawkins, Hegel, Heidegger and Hitchcock with equal comfort because he has actually ‘read’ and analysed’ their work.

I was drawn to his chapter section on hyphen-ethics more because of the probing, unsettling questions it raises than because of his conclusions. It will be one of those recurring themes that will be part of my own lifelong teaching, learning and research.

“What is false with todays discussion concerning the ethical consequences of biogenetics is that it is rapidly turning into what Germans call Bindenstrich-Ethik, the ethics of the hyphen – technology-ethics, environment-ethics, and so on. This ethics does have a role to play, a role homologous to that of the provisional ethic Descartes mentions at the beginning of his Discourse on Method: when we engage on a new path, full of dangers and shattering new insights, we need to stick to old established rules as a practical guide for our daily lives, although we are well aware that the new insights will compel us to provide a fresh foundation for our entire ethical edifice (in Descartes case, this new foundation was provided by Kant, in his ethics of subjective autonomy). Today, we are in the same predicament: the provisional ethics cannot replace the need for a thorough reflection of the emerging New (Žižek 2004:123).”

“In short, what gets lost here, in this hyphen-ethics, is simply ethics as such. The problem is not that universal ethics gets dissolved in particular topics but, on the contrary, that particular scientific breakthroughs are directly confronted with the old humanist “values” (say, how biogenetics affects our sense of dignity and autonomy). This, then, is the choice we are confronting today: either we choose the typically postmodern stance of reticence (let’s not go to the end, let’s keep a proper distance toward the scientific Thing so that this Thing will not draw us into a black hole, destroying all our moral and human notions), or we dare to “tarry with the negative (das Verweilen beim Negativen),” that is, we dare to fully examine the consequences of scientific modernity with the wager that “our Mind is a genome” will also function as an infinite judgment (Žižek 2004:123-4).”

“The main consequence of the scientific breakthrough in biogenetics is the end of nature. Once we know the rules of its construction, natural organisms are transformed into objects amenable to manipulation. Nature, human and inhuman, is thus “desubstantialized,” deprived of its impenetrable density, of what Heidegger called “earth.” Biogenetics, with its reduction of the human psyche itself to an object of technological manipulation, is therefore effectively a kind of empirical instantiation of what Heidegger perceived as the “danger” inherent to modern technology. Crucial here is the interdepedence of man and nature: by reducing man to just another object whose properties can be manipulated, what we lose is not (only) humanity but nature itself. In this sense, Francis Fukuyama is right. Humanity itself relies on some notion of “human nature” as what we inherited and was simply given to us, the impenetrable dimension in/of ourselves into which we are born/thrown. The paradox is thus that there is man only insofar as there is inhuman nature (Heidegger’s “earth”). (Žižek 2004:124).”

Notes
Slavoj Žižek is a dialectical-materialist philosopher and psychoanalyst. He also co-directs the International Centre for Humanities at Birkbeck College. The Parallax View appeared last year.

Webliography and Bibliography

Žižek, Slavoj. 2004. “Against hyphen-ethics.” Organs without Bodies: on Deleuze and Consequences. New York/London: Routledge. pp. 123-132.

Titles >> Subtitles: Organs without Bodies >> on Deleuze and Consequences >> Consequences >> Science >> Cognitivism with Freud, Autopoiesis, Memes, Memes Everywhere, Against Hyphen-Ethics, Cognitive Closure?, “Little Jolts of Enjoyment”,

folksonomy: cultural studies, theory, philosophy, Deleuze, globalization, democracy, democratization, war on terror, Joan Copjec, biogenetics, hyphen-ethics, capitalism, Richard Dawkins, Jacques Derrida, Daniel Dennett, ethics, Ethical turn, Habermas, Kant, Laclau, Levinas, Lacan, Varela, religion, Pascal, Spinoza, The Quite American, Hegel, Heidegger, Massumi, Fukuyama, liberal democracy, Self, personhood, ethics, mind/brain, mind body, psychoanalysis, nature/culture, technology, mind and consciousness,

More by Slavoj Žižek:

Žižek, Slavoj. 2003. “Bring me my Philips Mental Jacket: Slavoj Žižek welcomes the prospect of biogenetic intervention.” London Review of Books. 25:10. May.

Žižek, Slavoj. 1999. “Attempts to Escape the Logic of Capitalism.” Review of Vaclav Havel: A Political Tragedy in Six Acts by John Keane.” London Review of Books. 21:21. October 28.

Žižek, Slavoj. 1999. ‘You May!’ London Review of Books. 21:6. 18 March.

Bildung:

April 8, 2008


Friedrich's Antithesis

In 2004 just before I became totally lost in my cybernarcosis, cyberdeliria, enraptured by the deep internet I played with the digital image of the foremost German Romantic landscape painter David Casper Friedrich’s (1774-1840) Wanderer Overlooking the Sea of Fog (1818 ) His anti-classical work was part of a new synthesis of art, philosophy, and science focusing on the natural world which seemed somehow embued with the spiritual experiences of life. Friedrich’s timeless depiction of a wanderer looking out over a sea of fog evokes the journey of life towards higher more difficult summits. I enjoy the irony that the man depicted in his original image was a mere warden, not a world traveller. David Casper Friedrich gained the admiration of the poet Goethe, “the initiator of the tradition of the Bildungsroman, the novel of formation” (more). “In Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship the protagonist undergoes a journey of Bildung, or self-realization” (more).

    “With interventions into man’s genetic inheritance, the domination over nature reverts into an act of taking-control-over-oneself, which changes our generic-ethical self-understanding and can disturb the necessary conditions for an autonomous way of life and universalistic understanding of morals (Jantschek 2001 cited by Habermas cited in Žižek 125).”
      Bildung is the painful struggle to form/educate one’s natural dispositions through which an individual develops his/her moral identity.
      Žižek summarized Habermas’ concern with biogenetics argued that biogenetics threaten a vital concept of moral identity formation based on the painful lifelong struggle (Bildung) to realize one’s innate potential while educating one’s natural dispositions. Direct biogenetic interventions render the notion of such an education meaningless. Also, at an intersubjective level

      tag cloud: biogenetics,

      Webliography and Bibliography

      Habermas, Jurgens. Lecture. Marburg.
      Jantschek, Thorsten. 2001. “Ein ausgezehrter Hase.” Die Zeit. July 5.
      Žižek, Slavoj. 2004. “Against hyphen-ethics.” Organs without Bodies: on Deleuze and Consequences. New York/London: Routledge. pp. 123-132.

      Nonoverlapping magisteria NOMA

      November 12, 2007


      The crisis of academic disciplines in the late 20th century was fuelled by the blurring of boundaries between disciplines. Social sciences and humanities were accused of physics envy as they argued for legitimacy of their truth claims, their ontologies, methodologies, epistemologies . . . More recently investigations into the axiological dimension of academic disciplines have increased. So where does this leave Stephen Jay Gould’s notion of nonoverlapping magisteria?

      How much simpler our world would be if we could neatly divide complex questions into nonoverlapping categories, states into nonoverlapping topographies, identities into nonoverlapping communities and cultures.

      Neither Gould or Sagan argued for simplicity. As popularizers of science their controversial work situated them in a highly visible spotlight that was not always kind.

      Stephen Jay Gould argued for “a respectful, even loving concordat” between science and religion which he called the NOMA [nonoverlapping magisteria] solution. “NOMA represents a principled position on moral and intellectua] grounds, not a mere diplomatic stance. NOMA also cuts both ways. If religion can no longer dictate the nature of factual conclusions properly under the magisterium of science, then scientists cannot claim higher insight into moral truth from any superior knowledge of the world’s empirical constitution. This mutual humility has important practical consequences in a world of such diverse passions [. . .] The net of science covers the empirical universe: what is it made of (fact) and why does it work this way (theory). The net of religion extends over questions of moral meaning and value. These two magisteria do not overlap, nor do they encompass all inquiry (consider, for starters, the magisterium of art and the meaning of beauty). To cite the arch cliches, we get the age of rocks, and religion retains the rock of ages; we study how the heavens go, and they determine how to go to heaven (Gould 1997).”

      Paul Davies November 24, 2007 Op-Ed entitled “Taking Science on Faith” in the New York Times was one of the most emailed of the day. Davies, who is the director of Beyond, a research center at Arizona State University, and the author of Cosmic Jackpot: Why Our Universe Is Just Right for Life argued that, ””The problem with this neat separation into “non-overlapping magisteria,” as Stephen Jay Gould described science and religion, is that science has its own faith-based belief system. All science proceeds on the assumption that nature is ordered in a rational and intelligible way. You couldn’t be a scientist if you thought the universe was a meaningless jumble of odds and ends haphazardly juxtaposed. When physicists probe to a deeper level of subatomic structure, or astronomers extend the reach of their instruments, they expect to encounter additional elegant mathematical order. And so far this faith has been justified (Davies 2007 ).”

      To be continued . . .

      Timeline of related events

      1911- ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1844-1921) a Persian seer from a noble family imprisoned for decades for his beliefs, upon his release from prison, spent several years travelling and lecturing in Paris, London, New York, Montreal . . . before his death in 1921. In one of his well-attended and well-documented lectures in Paris he declared, “Religion and science are the two wings upon which man’s intelligence can soar into the heights, with which the human soul can progress. It is not possible to fly with one wing alone! Should a man try to fly with the wing of religion alone he would quickly fall into the quagmire of superstition, whilst on the other hand, with the wing of science alone he would also make no progress, but fall into the despairing slough of materialism (‘Abdu’l-Bahá 1911? [1969:143]).” Citations from these lectures which were covered by major contemporary mass media are now available from many sources on the web.

      1911- “When religion, shorn of its superstitions, traditions, and unintelligent dogmas, shows its conformity with science, then will there be a great unifying, cleansing force in the world which will sweep before it all wars, disagreements, discords and struggles–and then will mankind be united in the power of the Love of God (‘Abdu’l-Bahá 1911? [1969:146]).”

      1922 The words of `Abdu’l-Bahá, Persian seer and central figure of the Baha’i World Faith, were published. `Abdu’l-Bahá declared that, “If religious beliefs and opinions are found contrary to the standards of science, they are mere superstitions and imaginations; for the antithesis of knowledge is ignorance,and the child of ignorance is superstition. Unquestionably there must be agreement between true religion and science. If a question be found contrary to reason, faith and belief in it are impossible, and there is no outcome but wavering and vacillation.”

      1936 Pontifical Academy of Sciences was founded by Roman Catholic Pope Pius XI, who wished to surround himself with a select group of scholars, relying on them to inform the Vatican in complete freedom about developments in scientific research, and thereby to assist him in his reflections (NCSE 2002 ).

      1950 Pope Pius XII (not one of Gould’s favorite figures in twentieth-century history) pronounced his encyclical entitled Humani Generis in which he declared that “Catholics could believe whatever science determined about the evolution of the human body, so long as they accepted that, at some time of his choosing, God had infused the soul into such a creature (Gould 1997). “The Magisterium of the Church has already made pronouncements on these matters within the framework of her own competence. [. . . ] In his Encyclical Humani generis (1950), [Pope] Pius XII had already stated that there was no opposition between evolution and the doctrine of the faith about man and his vocation, on condition that one did not lose sight of several indisputable points (cf. AAS 42 [1950], pp. 575-576) (NCSE 2002 )”.

      1981 Pope John Paul II in his address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on 3 October 1981 clarified that, “Cosmogony itself speaks to us of the origins of the universe and its makeup, not in order to provide us with a scientific treatise but in order to state the correct relationship of man with God and with the universe. Sacred Scripture wishes simply to declare that the world was created by God, and in order to teach this truth, it expresses itself in the terms of the cosmology in use at the time of the writer. The sacred book likewise wishes to tell men that the world was not created as the seat of the gods, as was taught by other cosmogonies and cosmologies, but was rather created for the service of man and the glory of God. Any other teaching about the origin and makeup of the universe is alien to the intentions of the Bible, which does not wish to teach how heaven was made but how one goes to heaven (NCSE 2002).”

      1984 Stephen Jay Gould joined with a group of French and Italian Jesuit priests who were also professional scientists, participated in a meeting on nuclear winter sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. He referred to conversations on evolution at that time that resulted in his 1997 essay. Carl Sagan organized and attended the Vatican meeting that introduced Stephen Jay Gould’s essay entitled “Nonoverlapping Magisteria“. Carl Sagan and Gould shared a concern for a “fruitful cooperation between the different but vital realms of science and religion (Gould 1997).”

      1993 Pope John Paul II addressd the Pontifical Academy of Sciences plenary assembly on October 31, 1992. He addressed debates surrounding Galileo, drawing attention to the need of a rigorous hermeneutic for the correct interpretation of the inspired word. It is necessary to determine the proper sense of Scripture, while avoiding any unwarranted interpretations that make it say what it does not intend to say. In order to delineate the field of their own study, the exegete and the theologian must keep informed about the results achieved by the natural sciences (cf. AAS 85 [1993] pp. 764-772; Address to the Pontifical Biblical Commission, 23 April 1993, announcing the document on The interpretation of the Bible in the Church: AAS 86 [1994] pp. 232-243)(NCSE 2002).”

      1996 Pope John Paul II clarified certain issues on the magistria of science and religion in his Message to Pontifical Academy of Sciences, October 22, 1996 entitled “Magisterium is Concerned with Question of Evolution for it Involves Conception of Man.” “Science can purify religion from error and superstition; religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes. Each can draw the other into a wider world. a world in which both can flourish . . . Such bridging ministries must be nurtured and encouraged.” “[In 1996] fresh knowledge has led to the recognition that evolution is more than a hypothesis. It is indeed remarkable that this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers, following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge. The convergence, neither sought nor fabricated, of the results of work that was conducted independently is in itself a significant argument in favour of this theory. What is the significance of such a theory? To address this question is to enter the field of epistemology. A theory is a metascientific elaboration, distinct from the results of observation but consistent with them. By means of it a series of independent data and facts can be related and interpreted in a unified explanation. A theory’s validity depends on whether or not it can be verified, it is constantly tested against the facts; wherever it can no longer explain the latter, it shows its limitations and unsuitability. It must then be rethought. Furthermore, while the formulation of a theory like that of evolution complies with the need for consistency with the observed data, it borrows certain notions from natural philosophy. And, to tell the truth, rather than the theory of evolution, we should speak of several theories of evolution. On the one hand, this plurality has to do with the different explanations advanced for the mechanism of evolution, and on the other, with the various philosophies on which it is based. Hence the existence of materialist, reductionist and spiritualist interpretations. What is to be decided here is the true role of philosophy and, beyond it, of theology. The Church’s Magisterium is directly concerned with the question of evolution, for it involves the conception of man: Revelation teaches us that he was created in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gn 1:27-29). The conciliar Constitution Gaudium et spes has magnificently explained this doctrine, which is pivotal to Christian thought. It recalled that man is: the only creature on earth that God has wanted for its own sake” (n. 24). In other terms, the human individual cannot be subordinated as a pure means or a pure instrument, either to the species or to society, he has value per se. He is a person. With his intellect and his will, he is capable of forming a relationship of communion, solidarity and self-giving with his peers. St Thomas observes that man’s likeness to God resides especially in his speculative intellect for his relationship with the object of his knowledge resembles God’s relationship with what he has created (Summa Theologica, I-II, q. 3, a. 5, ad 1). But even more, man is called to enter into a relationship of knowledge and love with God himself, a relationship which will find its complete fulfilment beyond time, in eternity. [. . .] Consequently, theories of evolution which, in accordance with the philosophies inspiring them, consider the mind as emerging from the forces of living matter, or as a mere epiphenomenon of this matter, are incompatible with the truth about man. Nor are they able to ground the dignity of the person. With man, then, we find ourselves in the presence of an ontological difference, an ontological leap, one could say. However, does not the posing of such ontological discontinuity run counter to that physical continuity which seems to be the main thread of research into evolution in the field of physics and chemistry? Consideration of the method used in the various branches of knowledge makes it possible to reconcile two points of view which would seem irreconcilable. The sciences of observation describe and measure the multiple manifestations of life with increasing precision and correlate them with the time line. The moment of transition into the spiritual cannot be the object of this kind of observation, which nevertheless can discover at the experimental level a series of very valuable signs indicating what is specific to the human being. But the experience of metaphysical knowledge, of self-awareness and self-reflection, of moral conscience, freedom, or again, of aesthetic and religious experience, falls within the competence of philosophical analysis and reflection while theology brings out its ultimate meaning according to the Creator’s plans (NCSE 2002).”

      1997 Stephen Jay Gould published an entitled “Nonoverlapping Magisteria” later published in the journal Natural History in which he argued for “a respectful, even loving concordat” between science and religion which he called the NOMA [nonoverlapping magisteria] solution. “NOMA represents a principled position on moral and intellectua] grounds, not a mere diplomatic stance. NOMA also cuts both ways. If religion can no longer dictate the nature of factual conclusions properly under the magisterium of science, then scientists cannot claim higher insight into moral truth from any superior knowledge of the world’s empirical constitution. This mutual humility has important practical consequences in a world of such diverse passions [. . .] The net of science covers the empirical universe: what is it made of (fact) and why does it work this way (theory). The net of religion extends over questions of moral meaning and value. These two magisteria do not overlap, nor do they encompass all inquiry (consider, for starters, the magisterium of art and the meaning of beauty). To cite the arch cliches, we get the age of rocks, and religion retains the rock of ages; we study how the heavens go, and they determine how to go to heaven (Gould 1997).”

      1997 Carl Sagan’s estate published Billions & Billions. Sagan cited Pope John Paul II on the magistria of science and religion in his proclamation of October 1996. “Science can purify religion from error and superstition; religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes. Each can draw the other into a wider world. a world in which both can flourish . . . Such bridging ministries must be nurtured and encouraged.”

      2007 Canadian secular philosopher and author of The Taming of Chance and honorary professor at the Collège de France, Ian Hacking, in his essay entitled “Root and Branch” published in The Nation, argued that the metaphor of a tree of life with linear roots, trunk and branches as used in genetic anthropology was inadequate. Classification, particularly in tiniest life forms such as fungi, is a mess. While his arguments against the anti-science perspective of hard Intelligent Design proponents, are convincing — and he clearly states he is atheist — he does not adopt a hard line approach such as Richard Dawkins and others whom he describes as destructive, “arrogant religion-baiters”. He provided a useful bibliography and timeline of events that led to the sociological phenomenon in the United States of widespread religious fundamentalism that informs contemporary debates on the roles of science and religion. Hacking considered Leibniz’ proposal “that the actual world is the one that combines the maximum of variety with the minimum of complexity for its fundamental laws. The “best” world, the world sought by the most intelligent designer, is one that maximizes variety in its phenomena and simplicity of basic law. Such a world has no place for a specific set of plans for the Arctic tern. The upshot is not attractive to those who favor intelligent design. It is in effect a proof that we live in a world of quantum-mechanical laws that are counterintuitive (to humans) but intrinsically simple–a world that, once these laws are in place, is then allowed to evolve out of a very few raw materials by chance and selection into unendingly complex patterns, including life on earth as we know it. It is a fact that you will get complex structures if you just let such systems run. The wisest designer would choose the governing laws and initial conditions that best capitalized on this mathematical fact. A stupid designer would have to arrange for all the intricate details (the Arctic tern again) that anti-Darwinians eulogize, but an intelligent designer would let chance and natural selection do the work. In other words, in the light of our present knowledge, we can only suppose that the most intelligent designer (I do not say there is one) would have to be a “neo-Darwinian” who achieves the extraordinary variety of living things by chance.”

      Glossary of terms

      magisterium (or teaching authority) derives from the concept of teaching (magister is Latin for “teacher”). Gould () refers to magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church in particular, and to the magisteria of religion and science in general.

      NOMA (nonoverlapping magisteria) is a principle designated by Gould (1997) in which he argued that no conflict should exist [between science and religion because] each subject has a legitimate magisterium, or domain of teaching authority which do not overlap.

      Key words, folksonomy, tags: science and religion, nonoverlapping magisteria, magisteria, See also: Morowitz: Alexander; constructs; ding an sich (thing in itself); epistemology; evolution; Immanuel Kant; Philo; transcendence

      Webliography and Bibliography

      ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. 1922 [1982]. The Promulgation of Universal Peace. Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust. 2nd edition 1982, p. 181.

      ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. [1969]. Paris Talks. London: Bahá’í Publishing Trust. p. 143.

      ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. [1969]. Paris Talks. London: Bahá’í Publishing Trust. p. 146.

      BIC (Baha’i International Community). 1999. “The Unity of Religion and Science.” >> Information about the Bahai Faith: Baha’i Topics is a service of the Baha’i International Community. http://info.bahai.org/article-1-3-2-18.html

      Davies, Paul. 2007. “Taking Science on Faith.” Op-Ed New York Times. Published: November 24, 2007.

      Gould, Stephen Jay. 1997. “Nonoverlapping Magisteria.” Natural History 106 (March 1997): 16-22; Reprinted on-line with permission from Leonardo’s Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms, New York: Harmony Books, 1998, pp. 269-283.

      Hacking, Ian. 2007. “Root and Branch.” The Nation. October 8. Uploaded September 20. http://www.thenation.com/doc/20071008/hacking

      Sagan, Carl. 1997. Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium. New York:Random House.

      For further reading:

      Turbott, John. 2004. “Religion, spirituality and psychiatry: steps towards rapprochement.” Australasian Psychiatry. 12:2:145-147. Objectives: “To consider the claim that there is a fundamental epistemological conflict between religion and psychiatry over what constitutes rational explanation, and what impediment this might be to rapprochement between the two. Conclusions: An epistemological gap most certainly exists, but there is a growing acceptance of the importance of religion and spirituality to psychiatry. Rapprochement may best be achieved by increasing psychiatric awareness and knowledge of the issues, and by a willingness to embrace intellectual, cultural and religious pluralism.

      Turbott, John. “Religion, spirituality and psychiatry : conceptual, cultural and personal challenges.” Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry.

      Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Science, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.

      Abstract: Objective: “Recent psychiatric literature and contemporary sociopolitical developments suggest a need to reconsider the place of religion and spirituality in psychiatry. This paper was written with the aim of encouraging dialogue between the often antithetical realms of religion and science. Method: Material from psychiatric, sociological and religious studies literature was reviewed, with particular emphasis on New Zealand sources. Results: Despite the secularising effects of science, the presence and influence of ‘religiosity’ remains substantial in Western culture. The literature emphasises the central importance of religion and spirituality for mental health, and the difficulty of integrating these concepts with scientific medicine. Psychiatric tradition and training may exaggerate the ‘religiosity gap’ between doctors and patients. In New Zealand, the politically mandated bicultural approach to mental health demands an understanding of Maori spirituality. Conclusions: Intellectual, moral and pragmatic arguments all suggest that psychiatry should reconsider its attitude to religion and spirituality. There are many opportunities for research in the field. Psychiatry would benefit if the vocabulary and concepts of religion and spirituality were more familiar to trainees and practitioners. Patients would find better understanding from psychiatrists, and fruitful interdisciplinary dialogue about mutual issues of ‘ultimate concern’ might ensue.”

      Morowitz Harold, 2005. “The Debate between Science and Religion: Exploring Roads Less Traveled.” Zygon. 40:1:51-56(6). Blackwell Publishing.
      Abstract: “The confrontation between Hellenism and Judaism goes back to the invasion of the Middle East by the armies of Alexander the Great. The differing ideologies, first rationalized by Philo of Alexandria, have emerged repeatedly for the past 2,000 years. The inability to resolve the differences can be traced to the differing epistemologies of religious fundamentalists and scientists with views that can be traced to Karl Popper, Immanuel Kant, and, ultimately, Aristotle.”

      Keywords: Alexander; constructs; ding an sich (thing in itself); epistemology; evolution; Immanuel Kant; Philo; transcendence

      Document Type: Research article


      Affiliations: 1: Harold Morowitz is professor and former director of the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, MS 2A1, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia 22030, and co-chairman of the Science Advisory Board at the Santa Fe Institute.

      Links for this article

      http://www.ingentaconnect.com/bpl/zygo/2005/00000040/00000001/art00006
      http://openurl.ingenta.com/content?genre=article&issn=0591-2385&volume=40&issue=1&spage=51&epage=56
      http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9744.2005.00642.x

      Fernando, Suman. 2003. Cultural Diversity, Mental Health and Psychiatry: The Struggle Against Racism. Psychology Press.