David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Critical Inquiry 17 (4):838-67 (1991)
Bernice R. broke down so badly, when she turned nineteen, and behaved so much like a retarded child that she was committed to the Ohio State Bureau of Juvenile Research. Its director, Henry Herbert Goddard, a psychologist of some distinction, recognized that she suffered from multiple personality disorder. She underwent a course of treatment lasting nearly five years, after which “the dissociation seems to be overcome and replaced by a complete synthesis. [She] is working regularly a half day and seems reasonably happy in her reactions to her environment.”1 Therapy enabled her core personality and her main alter to make contact with each other, and for her to understand her past and, to some extent, why she had split.Her story prompts questions about evidence, objectivity, historical truth, psychological reality, self-knowledge, and the soul. It involves that powerful intersection of morality and metaphysics: why is it of value to have a self-understanding founded on true beliefs about ourselves and our past, or at any rate on memories that are not strictly false? To what extent is such self=knowledge based on evidence? To what extent is it knowledge at all? Ian Hacking, a philosopher, teaches at the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology in the University of Toronto, and he is the author of Taming Chance . His most recent contribution to Critical Inquiry is “The Making and Molding of Child Abuse”
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