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Thread: The joy of psychiatry and philosophy

  1. #1
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    The joy of psychiatry and philosophy

    For some context:
    Quote Originally Posted by Al_B View Post
    Discussion has been split off from the reading thread to make it a bit(!) easier to read and keep focus on what is a very interesting topic.
    I got a copy of Peter Gay's "Freud: A Life in Our Time" recently (it was a discard from a library). It's been filling in a lot of gaps in my knowledge, particularly surrounding the chronology of the early developments in psychoanalysis and the relationship between Freud and Jung. Unfortunately, I lost my place while reading about one of the case histories, and lost momentum. Plus I'm trying to take it easy at the moment anyway, I've been very busy lately.
    (I'm aware that reading about Freud today requires some justification. Like a lot of people, I was sceptical of psychoanalysis, seeing it as pseudoscience. On a whim I listened to an audiobook of "The Psychopathology of Everyday Life", and found the way Freud writes insightful even though I still feel psychoanalysis is generally too speculative.)
    Over all, I'm enjoying it. It's not polemical against Freud in a way that some might want it to be, but that's probably part of the reason I enjoy it. Nor is it too dense; Gay gives exactly as much detail as you'd want without going overboard.
    Last edited by Fire Arrow; 18th Jan 2024 at 11:01. Reason: Adding context

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fire Arrow View Post
    (I'm aware that reading about Freud today requires some justification. Like a lot of people, I was sceptical of psychoanalysis, seeing it as pseudoscience. On a whim I listened to an audiobook of "The Psychopathology of Everyday Life", and found the way Freud writes insightful even though I still feel psychoanalysis is generally too speculative.)
    I've read a fair amount of Freud. My overview is that the overarching theories are bunk, like the Oedipal structure, the id/ego/superego, the stages of child development, and mental illness as being stuck in a certain phase of said child development. However, many of the individual concepts (repression, regression, sublimation, transference, wish fulfillment) are still quite valuable, once you detach them from the grandiose parts.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anarchic Fox View Post
    I've read a fair amount of Freud. My overview is that the overarching theories are bunk, like the Oedipal structure, the id/ego/superego, the stages of child development, and mental illness as being stuck in a certain phase of said child development. However, many of the individual concepts (repression, regression, sublimation, transference, wish fulfillment) are still quite valuable, once you detach them from the grandiose parts.
    I definitely agree things like an "oral personality" are far fetched. However I would note that some of the individual concepts you mentioned are defence mechanisms, and my understanding is that defence mechanisms exist to maintain the sense of control of in the ego. So for instance the ego represses anger because it can cause a sense of losing control (I guess what I'm getting at is that I find it difficult to imagine defence mechanisms without any concept of an ego). I can easily imagine objections to the Oedipal structure, but its harder for me to imagine objections to the id/ego/superego structure. Is there something in particular you think is wrong with it, or did you just mean the standard objections apply to it (e.g. its unfalsifiable or its falsifiable and wrong)? Sorry to go into such a pedantic line of questions, and also if the problem was something else I hadn't thought of.
    I should note that I was motivated to read Freud because I was interested in being a therapist for a while, so I'm not exclusively concerned with the scientific validity of Freud's theories, more that he seems to provide a way of describing things which are otherwise difficult to describe.
    Lastly, to try to tie this back to reading, have you read any Melanie Klein? and if so, how did you find her in comparison to Freud? More or less grandiose?

    Sorry for editing this into something almost completely different later. I was in the middle of doing something when I wrote the initial reply and didn't put the amount of thought into what I was saying as I usually try to.
    Last edited by Fire Arrow; 3rd Jan 2024 at 18:03.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fire Arrow View Post
    I definitely agree things like an "oral personality" are far fetched. However I would note that some of the individual concepts you mentioned are defence mechanisms, and my understanding is that defence mechanisms exist to maintain the sense of control of in the ego. So for instance the ego represses anger because it can cause a sense of losing control (I guess what I'm getting at is that I find it difficult to imagine defence mechanisms without any concept of an ego). I can easily imagine objections to the Oedipal structure, but its harder for me to imagine objections to the id/ego/superego structure. Is there something in particular you think is wrong with it, or did you just mean the standard objections apply to it (e.g. its unfalsifiable or its falsifiable and wrong)? Sorry to go into such a pedantic line of questions, and also if the problem was something else I hadn't thought of.
    The id/ego/superego is the least objectionable of the theories I mentioned, and can be salvaged if you think of them as the subconscious mind, consciousness, and the conscience respectively. I recall Freud attaching a lot more cruft to the ideas, being overly specific and systematic about their contents and interactions. However, when I search my twenty-year-old memories of Freud I realize they aren't clear enough to articulate an objection. Oh well.

    Lastly, to try to tie this back to reading, have you read any Melanie Klein? and if so, how did you find her in comparison to Freud? More or less grandiose?
    No, do you recommend her? Realistically, I only read so much Freud because his books were easy to find in used bookstores. I also read some Jung and Maslow, but my overall knowledge of psychoanalysis is not deep.

    However, I have realized recently that I'm the archetypal "good listener," and I've also got a basic overview of psychiatry from dealing with my own illness. I'd like to develop this talent with some reading in modern psychotherapy. Do you have any recommendations, granting I'm self-aware enough not to pretend to be an actual therapist?

    Sorry for editing this into something almost completely different later. I was in the middle of doing something when I wrote the initial reply and didn't put the amount of thought into what I was saying as I usually try to.
    As a chronic (and during one period, professional) editor, I am all in favor of edited replies.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anarchic Fox View Post
    The id/ego/superego is the least objectionable of the theories I mentioned, and can be salvaged if you think of them as the subconscious mind, consciousness, and the conscience respectively. I recall Freud attaching a lot more cruft to the ideas, being overly specific and systematic about their contents and interactions. However, when I search my twenty-year-old memories of Freud I realize they aren't clear enough to articulate an objection. Oh well.
    Fair enough, probably my fault for being overly formal.

    No, do you recommend her? Realistically, I only read so much Freud because his books were easy to find in used bookstores. I also read some Jung and Maslow, but my overall knowledge of psychoanalysis is not deep.
    I'm planning on reading her next, but the reasons are a bit convoluted.
    To go into a brief digression into history, a lot of what happened after Freud in Psychoanalysis (mostly in the UK, although of course it has had influence on American psychoanalysis) was a conflict between followers of Anna Freud (AKA ego psychology) and followers of Melanie Klein (AKA object relations). I'm not an expert by any means, but I have more familiarity with ego psychology as its quite easy to grasp: its about replacing bad defence mechanisms with good defence mechanisms. Or to put it another way strengthening the ego. So for example you might replace repression with sublimation, or denial with humour, because these are more adaptable defence mechanisms.
    As intuitively appealing as I find ego psychology, it began to peter out in the sixties. I think you might even go so far as to say its extinct today, even though psychoanalysts may go back and read ego psychologists today. Kleinians seem to have a more empirical orientation (and according to Gay, Freud was a positivist, so what Klein was doing seems truer to what psychoanalysis was originally trying to do). Attachment theory (the most empirical subject to come out of psychoanalysis) owes its origins to a John Bowlby who was originally a Kleinian (though he disagreed with a lot of her opinions).
    So basically I'm hoping to find in her writing something more emotionally adequate than cognitive behavioural therapy but ideally something more empirically grounded than much of psychoanalysis.

    However, I have realized recently that I'm the archetypal "good listener," and I've also got a basic overview of psychiatry from dealing with my own illness. I'd like to develop this talent with some reading in modern psychotherapy. Do you have any recommendations, granting I'm self-aware enough not to pretend to be an actual therapist?
    I might not be the best person to ask because I think there are some big limitations in modern psychotherapy. Mostly I prefer to read older writers or philosophy. However, if there is one author that seems to be forward thinking today, it would have to be Antonio Damasio. I'd also recommend Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception (though its not exactly recent or psychotherapeutic, its very good for giving you language for reflecting on experience). Less in the vein of reading, Don Carveth puts out stuff which is simultaneously psychologically insightful and scholarly. (Its hard to find the combination of scientific, philosophical, and practical that I think is what is really needed today).
    Though if you want something more conventional/evidence-based, cognitive behavioural therapy is the way to go. Personally I can say its helped me before, so it definitely has its merits.

    As a chronic (and during one period, professional) editor, I am all in favor of edited replies.
    That's a relief, I was thinking "This is only my second post, and I'm already changing it"...

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fire Arrow View Post
    So basically I'm hoping to find in her writing something more emotionally adequate than cognitive behavioural therapy but ideally something more empirically grounded than much of psychoanalysis.
    The question of how scientific the study of mental health should be is no longer an academic one for me. After many psychiatrists who have little insight, and for that matter little interest, in the subjective experience of mental illness, I've concluded that the field has been harmed by being overly imitative of the harder sciences.

    For instance, for someone (like me) with severe bipolar disorder, it is crucial to be able to identify a manic episode quickly enough that I can counteract it; if I identify it too late, my judgment is too impaired to do much about it. This task is complicated by the fact that hypomania is very similar to a strong caffeine high. Part of my solution is simply to avoid a caffeine dependency; if I don't use caffeine for more than a couple days, but the high lasts longer than that, I know it's the start of a manic episode. Unfortunately, my practices are entirely self-developed; while I know that there exist therapists who specialize in bipolar disorder, I have not had the good fortune to encounter them.

    For another example, from comparing my experiences with those of various friends, I've realized that there are stark differences between the depression of a depressive phase of bipolar disorder, and the depression of major depressive disorder. Intrusive suicidal ideation seems more characteristic of the former, anhedonia more characteristic of the latter. Antidepressants help with the latter, but are disastrous for the former. I think a more advanced understanding would distinguish them, but since they are so similar in behavior, they are conflated.

    I might not be the best person to ask because I think there are some big limitations in modern psychotherapy. Mostly I prefer to read older writers or philosophy.
    Hmm, then I phrased my question too narrowly. For me "modern" will mean anything significantly newer than Freud, Jung, Skinner and their immediate successors. However the ones you mentioned look interesting, and I've added them to my list of authors to acquire.

    Though if you want something more conventional/evidence-based, cognitive behavioural therapy is the way to go. Personally I can say its helped me before, so it definitely has its merits.
    CBT seems to be highly effective for certain problems, like PTSD, but also narrow in application. I've picked up one very helpful practice from it, namely shifting my attention whenever a traumatic memory pops up, so as to weaken the memory.

  7. #7
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    The question of how scientific the study of mental health should be is no longer an academic one for me. After many psychiatrists who have little insight, and for that matter little interest, in the subjective experience of mental illness, I've concluded that the field has been harmed by being overly imitative of the harder sciences.
    I think part of the problem is that in the English language, subjectivity is usually taken to mean arbitrary or random. So for example when someone says "taste is subjective" it's misleading, because although it varies from person to person, it has certain conditions of possibility. If you look at how subjectivity is treated in German language philosophy, you may be refreshed by how they think about it.
    Also, I think the innovations in physics after Newton (i.e. relativity and quantum mechanics) were possible precisely because the Germans took subjectivity seriously (I know Bohr was Danish though). English language philosophy and science, while it has its achievements, has an irrational neglect of the subject.

    For instance, for someone (like me) with severe bipolar disorder, it is crucial to be able to identify a manic episode quickly enough that I can counteract it; if I identify it too late, my judgment is too impaired to do much about it. This task is complicated by the fact that hypomania is very similar to a strong caffeine high. Part of my solution is simply to avoid a caffeine dependency; if I don't use caffeine for more than a couple days, but the high lasts longer than that, I know it's the start of a manic episode. Unfortunately, my practices are entirely self-developed; while I know that there exist therapists who specialize in bipolar disorder, I have not had the good fortune to encounter them.
    Not to go onto too much of a rant but in my experience, mental health professionals are usually more interested in showing that they've followed procedure than actually understanding and alleviating the problem.

    For another example, from comparing my experiences with those of various friends, I've realized that there are stark differences between the depression of a depressive phase of bipolar disorder, and the depression of major depressive disorder. Intrusive suicidal ideation seems more characteristic of the former, anhedonia more characteristic of the latter. Antidepressants help with the latter, but are disastrous for the former. I think a more advanced understanding would distinguish them, but since they are so similar in behavior, they are conflated.
    That sounds rough, you have my sympathy.
    Have you come across the term "epistemic justice" before? Might be useful for framing part of the problem.

    Hmm, then I phrased my question too narrowly. For me "modern" will mean anything significantly newer than Freud, Jung, Skinner and their immediate successors. However the ones you mentioned look interesting, and I've added them to my list of authors to acquire.
    Hope you enjoy them! I tend to be more interested in reading philosophy than about therapy, so I can only really recommend things which are tangential. I've found Alasdair MacIntyre's After Virtue somewhat "therapeutic", but he might be too Aristotelian for people who don't come from a Catholic background. I always recommend After Virtue to everyone though; it's one of my favourite books!

    CBT seems to be highly effective for certain problems, like PTSD, but also narrow in application. I've picked up one very helpful practice from it, namely shifting my attention whenever a traumatic memory pops up, so as to weaken the memory.
    Definitely CBT has its uses. Though for me psychodynamic therapy feels like it gets at the heart of the matter, but unfortunately I haven't been able to find a psychodynamic therapist anywhere near where I live, so I'm stuck finding substitutes.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fire Arrow View Post
    I think part of the problem is that in the English language, subjectivity is usually taken to mean arbitrary or random. So for example when someone says "taste is subjective" it's misleading, because although it varies from person to person, it has certain conditions of possibility. If you look at how subjectivity is treated in German language philosophy, you may be refreshed by how they think about it.
    Also, I think the innovations in physics after Newton (i.e. relativity and quantum mechanics) were possible precisely because the Germans took subjectivity seriously (I know Bohr was Danish though). English language philosophy and science, while it has its achievements, has an irrational neglect of the subject.
    'Objectivity' by Daston, Gallison is an awesome book about twists and turns of subjectivity/objectivity terms throughout the history of philosophy and science ( I was shocked by the fact that those terms were actually invented not so long ago). And by twists and turns of those terms I mean that your claim of monosemantic usage of exact that term within the same language, and even the same language philosophy, have no sufficient reason.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kamlorn View Post
    And by twists and turns of those terms I mean that your claim of monosemantic usage of exact that term within the same language, and even the same language philosophy, have no sufficient reason.
    I never intended to claim 'exact' usage. I mean as a rule of thumb I've found that I've had to adopt a radically different sense of the meaning of subjectivity in order to make sense of German idealism.
    If by 'no sufficient reason', you mean you can show examples of subjectivity used in both ways in English, I think that would be over stating your case. It's common knowledge that English speakers use subjective as a synonym for meaningless. Whereas when someone speaks of Kant in relation to 'transcendental subjectivity', it's a very different use of 'subjectivity'.
    If you're referring to me attributing Einstein's and Bohr's innovations in physics to the 'German view of subjectivity', I'm satisfied by my own experience among English language scientists that 'subjectivity' is something they avoid like the plague.
    Still, the book looks interesting, thanks for the recommendation.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fire Arrow View Post
    ... in order to make sense of German idealism.
    Now that's what I call the CLAIM. Aside that boring subjectivity dispute. I am really interested from now on. Can you give some hints? Cause I don't know a single person who has managed to do this. No jokes. I am god damn serious.
    Man, this TTLG thing never ceases to amaze me so far. Last time it was a little conversation about a 'jump mechanic' which ended with a discussion of Bertolt Brecht's understanding of art, 'interrogation of reality' and the Doomslayer as, God forgive me, a conscientious objector.
    Last edited by Kamlorn; 13th Jan 2024 at 17:27. Reason: God capitalized

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kamlorn View Post
    Now that's what I call the CLAIM. Aside that boring subjectivity dispute. I am really interested from now on. Can you give some hints? Cause I don't know a single person who has managed to do this. No jokes. I am god damn serious.
    I'm just glad someone else is interested. I'll do my best, but I'll probably come back and edit this when I'm less tired. In the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant talks about certain conditions that need to be in place in order for us to know the world. That is everything we know, we know through a perspective. This is transcendental subjectivity, or universal subjectivity. Now, you can disagree with Kant of course, but he believes there are certain universal conditions of subjectivity (e.g. we all have an ego). Although there is some disagreements in the interpretation of Kant (see Hans Sluga's book on Frege), I think German Idealism makes most sense if you reject the psychologistic interpretations of Kant (i.e. that Kant is doing a kind of psychology). Basically, if you get Frege's criticism of psychologism (Google Frege's puzzle about the Morning and Evening Star), a corollary of that is that the mind is something more than just any other phenomenon that you can investigate empirically. You need to have an account of the mind as something that has access to objective truth (not just sensation, or appearance). Transcendental idealism, as I understand it, is examining the mind as a general condition of knowing (as opposed to something that has access only to appearances). Then Hegel comes along later, and does the same kind of analysis for social phenomenon (i.e. as having a kind of definite subjective structure).
    It's been a while, but I think I got this from Tom Rockmore's book "Kant and Phenomenology", but I leant it to a neighbour, so I can't check at the moment. Tom Rockmore is an underappreciated genius, in my opinion. No other philosopher has such a deep understanding of how the history of philosophy fits together.
    I'd also recommend reading about Georg Cantor's philosophy of mathematics, Nikolay Lossky's book "Value and Existence" (amazingly accessible work), and Frege's criticism of Husserl's early work (as well as Husserl's response). Also Paul Natorp on the relationship between Kant and Plato. Generally anything on modern Platonism and its relation to Neo-Kantianism will get you relevant info, I think. Also, Gillian Rose for Hegel's metaphysics. But that's all I can say for now, I'm way too tired.

    Man, this TTLG thing never ceases to amaze me so far. Last time it was a little conversation about a 'jump mechanic' which ended with a discussion of Bertolt Brecht's understanding of art, 'interrogation of reality' and the Doomslayer as, God forgive me, a conscientious objector.
    Nice to hear. I've been fond of this community for years before I joined. I glad its as thoughtful I would hope it to be.

    Edit: I remembered where I learned this interpretation. Tom Rockmore's lecture "Truth in Philosophy means a Concept correspond to Reality". It's on YouTube, but the audio is rough.
    Last edited by Fire Arrow; 13th Jan 2024 at 19:48.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fire Arrow View Post
    ... Basically, if you get Frege's criticism of psychologism (Google Frege's puzzle about the Morning and Evening Star),...
    But I dont get it! I mean I understand the semantic problem that puzzle raises, but can't connect it to what you call 'criticizm of psychologism'. How that puzzle is supposed to do it?
    Overall, I dont think it's possible to make sense of such a things, German idealism especially, in one reply on TTLG, but I really appreciate your ambition. I will start from the Tom Rockmore's one. You have sold it to me.

  13. #13
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    It's interesting that s/he mentioned it because that's been a theme in the AI thread, whether "psychological" factors should be a part of modeling language and AI (like consciousness, drives, and cognitive biases), or if it's sufficient or even better to keep them as pure logic and symbol manipulation (formal set theory, predicate calculus, formal semantics, etc.), where those things are verboten.

    I even used the term "raging anti-psychologism" which IIRC Anarchic Fox called out. Frege was the kind of German academic type that wouldn't rage about anything. But in my defense I was using that term kind of tongue-in-cheek for that reason but also meaning actually to talk about Fregism or logical positivism & its successors generally, the movements that spawned out of Russell's treatment of his ideas still 70+ years later, and I referred to Frege in a synadoche kind of way to stand in for the whole way of thinking. Some of his successors really were raging against psychologism, and there's still a legacy of that to this day, which you see in this thread and the AI thread, still also bordering on some raging. XD

    Anyway, the reason why, or at least the way I'd myself explain why, the Morning and Evening Star example captures Frege's anti-psychologism is because it particularly dramatizes the difference between a formal treatment of referents in set theory and a psychological treatment. In a formal treatment, any property you assign to one object has to apply to the other because they're the same object, even if you don't know they're the same object. If A is green, and B=A, then B has to be green because it's A. That's the objective truth of the matter, and our experience of A & B are irrelevant.

    In a psychological treatment, there are completely different attachments to these objects in experience and mythology as if they are different stars, and it's fine that they have different properties in our stories or, to phrase it more pejoratively to a logic-type, in our imaginations.

    Today we might word it in terms of formal truth vs. emotional truth, and emotional truth is something logic-types wanted to kick out of any scientific treatment of logic. Of course these days, people increasingly want to logically model emotional truth too. You want AI to be able to understand what people are talking about when they're talking about spiritual or emotional things. But do they need all the psychological apparatuses of humans to do that? It's bringing back the whole debate in through the back door.

    Saul Kripke kind of kicked off this new phase with his book Naming & Necessity, which gave us a way to distinguish "objective" and "subjective" truths in the old predicate calculus formalisms without really needing to introduce (m)any "psychological" factors, keeping Frege's anti-psychologism as much as he could. (I think a few of them leak in through the cracks.) That was a massive landmark in analytic philosophy for a while, and the morning & evening star was also one of his central go-to examples.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kamlorn View Post
    But I dont get it! I mean I understand the semantic problem that puzzle raises, but can't connect it to what you call 'criticizm of psychologism'. How that puzzle is supposed to do it?
    Overall, I dont think it's possible to make sense of such a things, German idealism especially, in one reply on TTLG, but I really appreciate your ambition. I will start from the Tom Rockmore's one. You have sold it to me.
    OK, I'll try to connect the dots, but my memory is a bit hazy (I'm actually trying not to think so much about philosophy at the moment, as I had a mental breakdown not that long ago from thinking about all this).
    As far as I understand it, the puzzle has to do with the presence of truth in language. If the 'Morning star' is the 'Evening star', how is saying the 'Morning star' is the 'Evening star' different from saying the 'Morning star' is the 'Morning star', or the 'Evening star' is the 'Evening star'?
    In order to know something, you are linking two referents together (could be senses, I get mixed up). So the mind isn't just a bundle of appearances, at some point it has to have connection with reality in order for the concepts of 'true' and 'false' to be meaningful.
    This is called 'Platonism of meaning', and what separates Frege from Mill, for example. There was a Neo-Kantian, I don't recall the name of, who tried to read Kant as a kind of psychologist, linking concepts from the first Critique to the understanding they then had of the brain (if you read Hans Sluga's book on Frege, you'll find the name). Frege (whether you agree with him or not) is opposed to this kind of thinking.
    I can't remember where I read it, but there was some article or book on Husserl (it could have been Mohanty's "Husserl and Frege"), where it was talking about Brentano's reaction to Frege's criticism of Husserl. Brentano asked Husserl whether the criticism had significance for his own views, and Husserl said it didn't. I think this was because Brentano was only distinguishing between mental and physical phenomenon, where as in his early work Husserl had tried to collapse knowledge into a psychological phenomenon.
    Heidegger uses Husserl's Platonism without acknowledging it, so my mind-set is "back to Husserl" and reappraise Neo-Kantianism while we're at it. Although I have disagreements with him, I quite sympathetic to Leo Strauss's criticism of historicism. I think most phenomenology and reception of German Idealism, since Husserl, has been hampered by not taking 'Platonism of meaning' seriously. I read a very irritating comment under a video on Husserl once, that 'Transcendental Phenomenology' was arbitrary because everything is culturally/historically relative; in my view there's no point to phenomenology if you aren't going to take Platonism seriously.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by demagogue View Post
    It's interesting that s/he mentioned it because that's been a theme in the AI thread, whether "psychological" factors should be a part of modeling language and AI (like consciousness, drives, and cognitive biases), or if it's sufficient or even better to keep them as pure logic and symbol manipulation (formal set theory, predicate calculus, formal semantics, etc.), where those things are verboten.
    I would side towards pure logic. Yes, the subject is embodied, but without the possibility of true knowledge, you miss something crucial about the human mind: the ability to learn. I think you have to combine Platonism with embodiment, so the only way forward is really Husserl and gestalt psychology (with Spinoza as a possible a third source).

    I even used the term "raging anti-psychologism" which IIRC Anarchic Fox called out. Frege was the kind of German academic type that wouldn't rage about anything. But in my defense I was using that term kind of tongue-in-cheek for that reason but also meaning actually to talk about Fregism or logical positivism & its successors generally, the movements that spawned out of Russell's treatment of his ideas still 70+ years later, and I referred to Frege in a synadoche kind of way to stand in for the whole way of thinking. Some of his successors really were raging against psychologism, and there's still a legacy of that to this day, which you see in this thread and the AI thread, still also bordering on some raging. XD
    It's worth pointing out that logical positivism isn't the only philosophical view to adopt Fregean anti-psychologism, it's also true of Husserl/transcendental phenomenology, and of the followers of Leo Strauss. (Also Alasdair MacIntyre is getting at the same thing when he talks about "emotivist culture" in After Virtue)

    Anyway, the reason why, or at least the way I'd myself explain why, the Morning and Evening Star example captures Frege's anti-psychologism is because it particularly dramatizes the difference between a formal treatment of referents in set theory and a psychological treatment. In a formal treatment, any property you assign to one object has to apply to the other because they're the same object, even if you don't know they're the same object. If A is green, and B=A, then B has to be green because it's A. That's the objective truth of the matter, and our experience of A & B are irrelevant.

    In a psychological treatment, there are completely different attachments to these objects in experience and mythology as if they are different stars, and it's fine that they have different properties in our stories or, to phrase it more pejoratively to a logic-type, in our imaginations.
    This a better summary than I'd be able to do.

    Today we might word it in terms of formal truth vs. emotional truth, and emotional truth is something logic-types wanted to kick out of any scientific treatment of logic. Of course these days, people increasingly want to logically model emotional truth too. You want AI to be able to understand what people are talking about when they're talking about spiritual or emotional things. But do they need all the psychological apparatuses of humans to do that? It's bringing back the whole debate in through the back door.
    I think this is the mistake people make. I think there really is objective morality, but it's very difficult to persuade people whose main concern is trying to get rid of metaphysics (e.g. people who would follow Daniel Dennett). I see clues towards a theory of objective morality in the Frege-Geach problem, in Meinong's value theory, and in Sraffa's economics. But it would involve a kind of quasi-religious socialist perspective, which really isn't popular among most educated people.

    Saul Kripke kind of kicked off this new phase with his book Naming & Necessity, which gave us a way to distinguish "objective" and "subjective" truths in the old predicate calculus formalisms without really needing to introduce (m)any "psychological" factors, keeping Frege's anti-psychologism as much as he could. (I think a few of them leak in through the cracks.) That was a massive landmark in analytic philosophy for a while, and the morning & evening star was also one of his central go-to examples.
    I've been meaning to study Kripke. But I still feel that the main thing philosophy needs to account for is some sort of 'embodied epistemology'; the process of learning isn't studied in philosophy with sufficient attention in my opinion.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by demagogue View Post
    Anyway, the reason why, or at least the way I'd myself explain why, the Morning and Evening Star example captures Frege's anti-psychologism is because it particularly dramatizes the difference between a formal treatment of referents in set theory and a psychological treatment. In a formal treatment, any property you assign to one object has to apply to the other because they're the same object, even if you don't know they're the same object. If A is green, and B=A, then B has to be green because it's A. That's the objective truth of the matter, and our experience of A & B are irrelevant.

    In a psychological treatment, there are completely different attachments to these objects in experience and mythology as if they are different stars, and it's fine that they have different properties in our stories or, to phrase it more pejoratively to a logic-type, in our imaginations.

    Today we might word it in terms of formal truth vs. emotional truth, and emotional truth is something logic-types wanted to kick out of any scientific treatment of logic. Of course these days, people increasingly want to logically model emotional truth too. You want AI to be able to understand what people are talking about when they're talking about spiritual or emotional things. But do they need all the psychological apparatuses of humans to do that? It's bringing back the whole debate in through the back door.
    Yeah, now I got it.
    Yet, I have a strange feeling that the more I read here the lesser I understand, in general. No! How MUCH I dont understand! That sounds better. Maybe I am not a person who know a lot of things, but there are certainly not so many people on the planet who dont know as much things as I do.
    And what is surprising to me here – I like this feeling so far. Quite strange.



    Subjectivity, German idealism, Frege, formal/psychological, 'Platonism of meaning', phenomenology, 'embodied epistemology'. Just a note in the margins. Impressive how far we are from the first topic already. Maybe that's the whole point of the discourse? To escape. To break the consistency? But we are still somewhere nearby.

  17. #17
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2023
    Location: Ireland (mostly)
    Quote Originally Posted by Kamlorn View Post
    Subjectivity, German idealism, Frege, formal/psychological, 'Platonism of meaning', phenomenology, 'embodied epistemology'. Just a note in the margins. Impressive how far we are from the first topic already. Maybe that's the whole point of the discourse? To escape. To break the consistency? But we are still somewhere nearby.
    I'll try to summarize and add some additional information on how I see it fitting together.
    1. The original context was discussing Freud and therapy. My view is that 'subjectivity' is misused in the English language, leading to missing the point of the 'continental rationalists' (i.e. Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz). The significance of 'subjectivity' is found in Einstein (see his comparison of Leibniz and Newton), and in Bohr (see the interpretation of Bohr as a Kantian/transcendental idealist). However, this sophisticated view of subjectivity has failed to filter into therapy, and also into English language science more generally (leading to stagnation in my view).
    2. German idealism is a continuation of the rationalist tradition of philosophy (Leibniz -> Christian Wolff -> Kant). This means the Cartesian concern with 'clear and distinct ideas' is the impetus of German idealism. As a result German idealism is concerned with 'transcendental subjectivity' or the universal preconditions of knowledge, more commonly know as the 'a priori'.
    3. In the century following Kant, there are competing interpretations of his 'critical philosophy', but according to Hans Sluga, Frege is the one to develop what is distinctive in Kant, i.e. 'transcendental subjectivity' as distinct from psychology. (This is probably the most controversial point I'm making).
    4. Frege's criticism of Husserl's psychologism leads Husserl to develop 'embedded Platonism'. Leo Strauss takes up a political interpretation of this in his criticism of historicism via Jacob Klein.
    5. Further down the line, Hubert Dreyfus criticises cognitive science via a reading Heidegger. However, Dieter Münch suggests that one can reach the same conclusions via Husserl rather than Heidegger. This is compelling from my perspective because Heidegger is in a state of contradiction, using Platonism while trying to argue for historicism.
    6. In my view, the question of when we 'know that we know', or the learning process has epistemological significance. So while we can reach a very sophisticated level in the abstract, until epistemology is connected with how we actually know, it is incomplete. At this point psychology has to be raised into philosophy, as the mind isn't just any other phenomenon, but the thing through which we know all phenomenon.

  18. #18
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2020
    Location: Russia
    Quote Originally Posted by Fire Arrow View Post
    (I'm actually trying not to think so much about philosophy at the moment, as I had a mental breakdown not that long ago from thinking about all this)
    Let's stop right now. I am starting to understand you and it scares me.

  19. #19
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2023
    Location: Ireland (mostly)
    Quote Originally Posted by Kamlorn View Post
    Let's stop right now. I am starting to understand you and it scares me.
    I'm sorry, I shouldn't have info dumped. If it's any consolation, now I care more about my connection to my family and friends than about knowledge. Also it's lead me to reappraise religion. I've concluded love and friendship is more important than knowledge. If the problem still bothers you as it did me, I'm happy to offer advice based off of my experience.
    But I won't add any more information, I'm here to create fan missions; not to discuss philosophy.

  20. #20
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    Quote Originally Posted by Fire Arrow View Post
    I think part of the problem is that in the English language, subjectivity is usually taken to mean arbitrary or random. So for example when someone says "taste is subjective" it's misleading, because although it varies from person to person, it has certain conditions of possibility. If you look at how subjectivity is treated in German language philosophy, you may be refreshed by how they think about it.
    Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh.

    Kant is worthwhile, but introduces more terminology than anyone has the time for. Heidegger is Nazi bullshit. Hegel is proto-Nazi bullshit. Schopenhauer is bullshit, but at least it isn't Nazi bullshit. Nietzsche's good, at least... provided you ignore "The Will to Power," which his sister and her awful husband assembled into Nazi, you guessed it, bullshit.

    Also, I think the innovations in physics after Newton (i.e. relativity and quantum mechanics) were possible precisely because the Germans took subjectivity seriously (I know Bohr was Danish though). English language philosophy and science, while it has its achievements, has an irrational neglect of the subject.
    Right. You're talking to some with a doctorate in physics and half a bachelor's degree in philosophy. Time for a lesson.

    The theory of "early quantum mechanics," as it used to be called, was developed by Planck, Einstein (yes, really) and Bohr. The latter two were English. Edit: Bohr was Danish.

    Quantum mechanics developed in Germany not because its physicists had some advantage in philosophy, but because de Broglie, a German, had the key insight, and his advisor Schopenhauer was able to give that insight a foundation. De Broglie and Schopenhauer were German, but like all the best physicists fled the country. I'm not going to credit Germany with anything conducive to the study of physics when its best physicists fled. (Heisenberg, the sole Nazi of the bunch, had a version of quantum mechanics strictly inferior to Schopenhauer's, and indeed one of the early advances in quantum mechanics was when Schopenhauer proved that his wave mechanics encompassed Heisenberg's matrix mechanics.)

    The single greatest physicist of the era was Enrico Fermi, Italian. He was both a great theoretician and a great experimentalist, a fact which is true of only a half-dozen physicists throughout history. And unlike them, he was also a great engineer, from which follows most of the best Fermi stories. Meanwhile, among the advances of the next generation of physicists, on the theory side the two most important were the Dirac equation and Feynman's path integral formalism. They were English and American, respectively.

    English language philosophy, which in this era is to say analytic philosophy, should be disregarded in its grandiose overarching theories, but is immensely valuable in its particulars. Like psychoanalysis. Russell was both a great mathematician and a great philosopher, and his emphasis on how disregarding quantification (in the logic sense) leads to error is invaluable... and he's about a sixth of analytic philosophy all by himself. Wittgenstein is another sixth, and he was an English immigrant. Austin, though neglected for decades, was another English sixth of analytic philosophy. (Carnap and his school, Austrian, were a sixth, and the final third were Quine and the Americans. I'm not weighing in latecomers like Kripke and Putnam.) Austin, in particular, does not neglect subjectivity.

    Not to go onto too much of a rant but in my experience, mental health professionals are usually more interested in showing that they've followed procedure than actually understanding and alleviating the problem.
    That's going too far. There are good ones. It's rather that they, like most hospital MDs, are overburdened. In a mental hospital, each MD is expected to evaluate and diagnose dozens of different people weekly, relying on reports from staff. It's not a reasonable burden.

    That sounds rough, you have my sympathy.
    Have you come across the term "epistemic justice" before? Might be useful for framing part of the problem.
    No, what does it mean?

    Hope you enjoy them! I tend to be more interested in reading philosophy than about therapy, so I can only really recommend things which are tangential. I've found Alasdair MacIntyre's After Virtue somewhat "therapeutic", but he might be too Aristotelian for people who don't come from a Catholic background. I always recommend After Virtue to everyone though; it's one of my favourite books!
    The title raises my hackles, since my ethical system is a virtue one. (It's the Ultima influence.)

    Definitely CBT has its uses. Though for me psychodynamic therapy feels like it gets at the heart of the matter, but unfortunately I haven't been able to find a psychodynamic therapist anywhere near where I live, so I'm stuck finding substitutes.
    What's psychodynamics, then?
    Last edited by Anarchic Fox; 15th Jan 2024 at 06:53.

  21. #21
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2023
    Location: Ireland (mostly)
    I wrote a big high-effort reply which just got blanked when I tried to post it. I'll try writing it again, but it might not be as high effort.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anarchic Fox View Post
    Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh.
    Kant is worthwhile, but introduces more terminology than anyone has the time for. Heidegger is Nazi bullshit. Hegel is proto-Nazi bullshit. Schopenhauer is bullshit, but at least it isn't Nazi bullshit. Nietzsche's good, at least... provided you ignore "The Will to Power," which his sister and her awful husband assembled into Nazi, you guessed it, bullshit.
    I think this may be an area where we have differences of opinion. I don't think there's much connection between Nazism and Heidegger's actual philosophy; I think he was more of an opportunist, as exemplified by his behaviour after the Second World War. He insinuated that Sartre's interpretation of Being and Time was wrong, as a way of getting back into public life. Arguably worse, from a certain perspective.
    Hegel wasn't an anti-Semite, but I'm pretty sure Schopenhauer was an anti-Semite. Also the actual Nazi Carl Schmitt had a very negative view of Hegel. I think the attribution of totalitarianism to Hegel is more accurately applied to Fichte (if you read "Hegel's Ethical Thought" by Wood, this becomes clear).
    I've gone back and forth on Nietzsche's relationship to Nazism. I came to the conclusion that although he wasn't an anti-Semite, his positive view of cruelty and negative view of Socrates, makes his attitude a precursor.

    Right. You're talking to some with a doctorate in physics and half a bachelor's degree in philosophy. Time for a lesson.

    The theory of "early quantum mechanics," as it used to be called, was developed by Planck, Einstein (yes, really) and Bohr. The latter two were English. Edit: Bohr was Danish.

    Quantum mechanics developed in Germany not because its physicists had some advantage in philosophy, but because de Broglie, a German, had the key insight, and his advisor Schopenhauer was able to give that insight a foundation. De Broglie and Schopenhauer were German, but like all the best physicists fled the country. I'm not going to credit Germany with anything conducive to the study of physics when its best physicists fled. (Heisenberg, the sole Nazi of the bunch, had a version of quantum mechanics strictly inferior to Schopenhauer's, and indeed one of the early advances in quantum mechanics was when Schopenhauer proved that his wave mechanics encompassed Heisenberg's matrix mechanics.)

    The single greatest physicist of the era was Enrico Fermi, Italian. He was both a great theoretician and a great experimentalist, a fact which is true of only a half-dozen physicists throughout history. And unlike them, he was also a great engineer, from which follows most of the best Fermi stories. Meanwhile, among the advances of the next generation of physicists, on the theory side the two most important were the Dirac equation and Feynman's path integral formalism. They were English and American, respectively.
    Fair enough. I'll readily concede you know better than me. Further, I'll actually say its a relief to have my perspective challenged, I was getting a bit overwhelmed by it, so thank you.

    English language philosophy, which in this era is to say analytic philosophy, should be disregarded in its grandiose overarching theories, but is immensely valuable in its particulars. Like psychoanalysis. Russell was both a great mathematician and a great philosopher, and his emphasis on how disregarding quantification (in the logic sense) leads to error is invaluable... and he's about a sixth of analytic philosophy all by himself. Wittgenstein is another sixth, and he was an English immigrant. Austin, though neglected for decades, was another English sixth of analytic philosophy. (Carnap and his school, Austrian, were a sixth, and the final third were Quine and the Americans. I'm not weighing in latecomers like Kripke and Putnam.) Austin, in particular, does not neglect subjectivity.
    Didn't know that about Austin. I've heard good things about Putnam and Roderick Chisholm.
    I oscillate between German and English philosophy. The main thing I worry about is that if we don't use mutually intelligible terms, we may end up reinventing the wheel.

    That's going too far. There are good ones. It's rather that they, like most hospital MDs, are overburdened. In a mental hospital, each MD is expected to evaluate and diagnose dozens of different people weekly, relying on reports from staff. It's not a reasonable burden.
    That's cutting public spending for you (though I don't want to get into a heated economic debate in this forum so soon).

    No, what does it mean?
    Epistemic justice is the vein of normative epistemology (in my opinion), like there are correct and incorrect ways of 'knowing' just as ethics could be said to be concerned with correct and incorrect ways of 'acting'. 'Normative epistemology' is generally called 'virtue epistemology' (I only used the term 'normative' to give a better sense of the concept). Epistemic justice more specifically is concerned with whether ideas are given a fair trial. So for example, in Aristotle's Biology there was an account of a cephalopod that changed colour, and for centuries scientists thought it was just a tall tale from antiquity; it turned out that it did exist.
    I don't know if other people put 'virtue epistemology' and 'epistemic justice' into the same column, like I do.

    The title raises my hackles, since my ethical system is a virtue one. (It's the Ultima influence.)
    Never heard that expression before, had to look it up.
    After Virtue is more to do with the failure of other ethical systems to take hold after Thomism. MacIntyre is contrasting more modern ethical systems such as Kant's and Mill's, with Aristotle and Aquinas, finding the modern theories inadequate. He's actually one of main modern writers on virtue ethics.
    How does Ultima relate to virtue ethics? Sounds interesting...

    What's psychodynamics, then?
    Emperor's new clothes psychoanalysis! No, although it has it's roots in Freud, it's more evidence/practice-based than 'scholastic'. I think I probably wrote about it somewhere before, but I can't remember. It's one of those things I talk about over and over again, if I'm not careful.
    Basically, it's like the inverse of CBT, emotions precede thought rather than thought preceding emotions.

    Edit: And here I am talking about philosophy even though the last post I wrote I said I wasn't here to discuss philosophy. Sorry about that.
    Last edited by Fire Arrow; 15th Jan 2024 at 14:50. Reason: Irony

  22. #22
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2020
    Location: Russia
    Quote Originally Posted by Fire Arrow View Post

    Basically, it's like the inverse of CBT, emotions precede thought rather than thought preceding emotions.
    Sorry for interrupting, but the same idea crossed my mind one day. Remember! It was a question to me, something like 'why are you even worried about this so much'? He started to explain something to me, probably to calm me down, but I did't listen to what he said. I was really worried! And other one (now I understand he was the smart one), just told me to sit down and handed me a glass of water. It calmed down.

    And it dawned on me! EMOTIONS DONT THINK! It's pointless to persuade your feelings! Welp, maybe not so pointless: Dostoevsky, in my opinion, is a wonderful example of such persuading of emotions, which always ends in failure. But it's useless. So the second one, who just gave me a glass of water, knew something. Emotions and thoughts belongs to completly different domains. It's so obvious yet so many people dont understand it.

  23. #23
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2023
    Location: Ireland (mostly)
    Quote Originally Posted by Kamlorn View Post
    Sorry for interrupting, but the same idea crossed my mind one day. Remember! It was a question to me, something like 'why are you even worried about this so much'? He started to explain something to me, probably to calm me down, but I did't listen to what he said. I was really worried! And other one (now I understand he was the smart one), just told me to sit down and handed me a glass of water. It calmed down.
    Very true. This the dynamic I have with my father, he always tells me my concerns aren't worth taking seriously and it has never calmed me down once. It's more important to be be around people who share your experiences. (Like Alcoholics Anonymous; what use would the advice of a life-long teetotaller be?)

    And it dawned on me! EMOTIONS DONT THINK! It's pointless to persuade your feelings! Welp, maybe not so pointless: Dostoevsky, in my opinion, is a wonderful example of such persuading of emotions, which always ends in failure. But it's useless. So the second one, who just gave me a glass of water, knew something. Emotions and thoughts belongs to completly different domains. It's so obvious yet so many people dont understand it.
    I listened to a radio play of Crime and Punishment once, probably one of the most profound things I've ever come across. I have a lot of admiration and respect for Dostoevsky. Also, when I was having my mental breakdown, I took to watching film adaptations of "The Idiot"; very moving, I think it helped me a lot.

  24. #24
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    Quote Originally Posted by Fire Arrow View Post
    How does Ultima relate to virtue ethics? Sounds interesting...
    I'll respond with more substance later. First, go post this question on General Gaming. It's all but guaranteed to spark a fun conversation!

  25. #25
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2023
    Location: Ireland (mostly)
    Quote Originally Posted by Anarchic Fox View Post
    I'll respond with more substance later. First, go post this question on General Gaming. It's all but guaranteed to spark a fun conversation!
    Will post the question.
    I was thinking actually that I've been a bit too off-topic. This is meant to be a thread about reading, after all. I was thinking it might be a good idea to create a separate thread or something, so as not to interrupt people who aren't interested the topics we're discussing. That is if people are interested, and if I could think of a good heading for it (so it has some direction).

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