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Logical Positivism, Jonathon Swift, and Neurosis

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coberst

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Logical Positivism, Jonathon Swift, and Neurosis

One might think of God as a great practical joker. S/he creates a species that considers it to inhabit an area between god and animal. Humans then seek to repress the animal side of its nature and to inflate the god like part of its nature, its aspect that is at various situations is consider as soul, or consciousness, or mind.

Jonathan Swift is perhaps the most famous of authors to parody the human eccentric behavior in attempting to repress recognition of our animal body. If there is a God s/he must be a very witty practical joker. Can you imagine the delight s/he must enjoy while observing humans contending with the problems relating to the scattering of the love apparatus among the eliminating portals of the human body?

Psychoanalysis is about the nature of repression; the essential characteristic of the human psyche.

There is a constant conflict between the conscious and the unconscious. Societies repress the individual and the individual represses the self.

Neurotic behavior, dreams, and various “Freudian slips” provide us with e-mails from the unconscious that elude the conscious repression mechanism. These behavior characteristics are meaningful because they manifest the purpose of the unconscious that remains hidden from consciousness.

The conscious mind strenuously disowns and resists the rumblings of the unconscious. The conscious self disowns and resists its human nature.

Neurosis is the label given to these human phenomena of conflict between the conscious and unconscious self. All of us are neurotic to one degree or another. When this neurosis interferes with ‘normal’ human behavior then, and only then, does it require outside interference by society.

Universal neurosis is the analogy of “original sin” for theological doctrine.

“The most scandalous pieces of Swiftian scatology are three of his later poems—“The Lady’s Dressing Room”, “Strephon and Chloe”, “Cassinus and Peter”—which are variations on the theme:
Oh! Caelia, Caelia, Caelia, #*^%^.
Aldous Huxley explicates, saying, “The monosyllabic verb, which the modesties of 1929 will not allow me to print, rhymes with ‘wits’ and ‘fits’.”

Swift’s metaphor for humans as Yahoo’s, which are excrementally filthy, is even more in tune with his overall parodying human eccentricities when it comes to recognizing the nature of the body.

It appears to me that logical positivism, more appropriately called logical empiricism, is philosophy’s attempt to separate completely the human mind from the human body. Logical empiricism travels on the back of a system of symbolic logic whereby a scientifically codified set of symbols is developed which permits ordinary human language to be converted in to a system of symbols for the purpose of analyzing conscious thought for its truth value. Anything that does not fit into this symbol system epistemology is rejected as meaningless.

As best that I can understand it logical positivism is a philosophy that attempts to define meaning as being confined to empirical observations modified somewhat by rational processes, which does deposit some characteristics to the observed data.



 

GiantSteps

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Cobert,

I did not know we were in the presence of a Houyhnhym! So clearly, the answer to this mind/ body debate is never put the horse before Descarte!:laugh:

By the way, do you think that behaviorsm is inherently linked to logical positivist philosophy? I am not so sure that the two necessarily have to go hand in hand even those most behaviorists would claim to be empiricists.
 

toby jones

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With respect to logical positivism / empiricism I guess the earliest advocates include Russell and the early Wittgenstein. Russell maintained that the world was composed of sense data. He was a monist rather than a materialist or dualist.

The early Wittgenstein is in a similar vein of thought being expressed by language where thought and language are a mirror of the world. The notion of atomic facts (or propositions or thoughts) combining to produce more complex arrangements (like there not being an elephant in the room). While this is controverisal sometimes Wittgenstein is characterized as being the first behaviorist. There are certainly aspects of behaviorism in his thinking.

I remember a passage that went like this (my reconstruction). What is thinking? We use the term in different ways... We tell people to 'think harder' and to 'think before speaking' and to 'think more carefully' etc. It sounds like thinking is something that we DO (like running). But when we ask someone to 'think harder' then what are they supposed to do? If they furrow their brow or pace back and forth then does that mean that they are thinking harder? Getting things right seems to be the mark of thought. If we ask someone a mathematical question and one person paces back and forth cand clutches his forehead and gets the answer wrong... And the other person just says the answer... Then there is a sense in which the first person hasn't thought very hard at all.

He looks at how language is used. Sometimes it is said that (according to Wittgenstein) that language IS use. To analyze language... Is... According to the later Wittgenstein... To describe the way in which it is used. He famously said: And then all lies open to view. There is this urge to get behind the practice and get at the essence. But once our practices are described then all lies open to view and there is no more work to do. There I hit bedrock and there my spade is turned. Or (my own personal favourite saying) 'sensible men know when to stop peeling their onions).

Apparently Wittgenstein was appalled at the way that the Vienna Circle (Carnap and the like) had taken up his view. They thought (a little like Hume) that matters of ethics and metaphysics and religion were meaningless and should be 'cast to the flame'.

It is important to distinguish between methodological behaviourism (psychology should be the objective study of behaviour) from ontological behaviourism (mental states ARE behavioural dispositions). Wittgensteins stuff on rule following is interesting with respect to problematizing the notion of mental content... I wonder what he would have made of functionalism and the development of (apparently) rule following computers...

I think the `meaningless' charge goes like this:
All things that can be known are either a-priori (like math and logic) or a-posteriori (like the natural sciences). If a claim can't be assessed either a-priori or a-posteriori then the claim is meaningless.

They thought this was meaningless: 'God exists'.

But Wittgensteinean Fideism is a fairly good view (though Wittgenstein didn't last long as a logical / empirical positivist).

Logical Positivism / Empiricism was fell out of favour sometime in the 60's (as did behaviourism more generally). The cognitive revolution seemed to promise that there could be an objective study of mental states (interesting to note that they are assessed BEHAVIOURALLY by way of verbal report or button press etc). Logical Positivism / Empiricism also fell out of favour in philosophy of science as developments in biology in particular resulted in philosophers starting to take the special sciences (e.g., anthropology, economics, sociology, psychology etc) seriously instead of trying to deduce the ontology and laws of higher sciences from lower level entities and laws as the Positivist project had been.
 

coberst

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Cobert,

I did not know we were in the presence of a Houyhnhym! So clearly, the answer to this mind/ body debate is never put the horse before Descarte!:laugh:

By the way, do you think that behaviorsm is inherently linked to logical positivist philosophy? I am not so sure that the two necessarily have to go hand in hand even those most behaviorists would claim to be empiricists.

I do not think so.
 
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