Recent work in neuroscience indicates that the subcortical mechanisms that generate motives also generate consciousness. As Mark Solms argues, this enables us to integrate neuroscience with the Freudian Ego and Id. If we take full account of the role of conflict, as described in terms of the superego, we can see that the complex role of aggression in human life ensures that much of our emotional life is unconscious.
Psychoanalysis is supported as an interpretive extension of commonsense psychology that provides the best explanation of a large range of empirical data in accord with Bayesian principles. Suggestion provides no such explanation, and recent work in attachment, developmental psychology, and neuroscience accord with this view.
Psychoanalysis enables us to see mental disorder as rooted in emotional conflicts, particularly concerning aggression, to which our species has a natural liability. These can be traced in development, and seem rooted in both parent-offspring conflict and in-group cooperation for out-group conflict. In light of this we may hope that work in psychoanalysis and neuroscience will converge in indicating the most likely paths to a better neurobiological understanding of mental disorder.
Recent work in neuroscience accords with research in attachment and developmental psychology in enabling us to understand both consciousness and the Freudian unconscious in the context of the Bayesian brain.
Wittgenstein's arguments about rule-following and private language turn both on interpretation and what he called our 'pictures' of the mind. His remarks about these can be understood in terms of the conceptual metaphor of the mind as a container, and enable us to give a better account of physicalism.
The problem of consciousness is taken to concern items which are internal to the mind, and phenomenal, subjective, and private. Understanding the notion of innerness in this enables us to understand the rest in physical terms.
In order to understand both consciousness and the Freudian unconscious we need to understand the notion of innerness that we apply to the mind. We can partly do so via the use of the theory of conceptual metaphor, and this casts light on a number of related topics.
Freud's account of dreams can be understood via interpretive patterns that span language and action, enabling an extension of common sense psychology that is potentially cogent, cumulative, and radical.
In his work on following a rule Wittgenstein discerned principles of interpretation that apply to commonsense psychology and psychoanalysis. We can use these to assess the cogency of psychoanalytic reasoning.
Our commonsense understanding of meaning and motive is realized via the semantic encoding of causal role. Appreciating this together with other features of semantic theories enables us to see that methodological critiques of psychoanalysis, such as those by Popper and Grunbaum, systematically fail to take account of empirical data, and if taken seriously would render commonsense understanding of mind and language void. This is particularly problematic if we consider much of what we regard ourselves as knowing is registered in language, (...) or understood through our use of it, since this includes science itself. (shrink)
Infants apparently start to understand their experience via the linked concepts of numerical identity and spatio-temporally continuous objects during the forth month of life. As described by Piaget and Klein, this development requires them to synthesise their experience in a new ways: in particular they must start to acknowledge that the main target of their anger at frustration and the main target of their gratitude and love are the same person, who is unique and irreplaceable. This seems to have an (...) immediate consequence in the onset of separation distress and stranger anxiety, and apparently has far-reaching psychological consequences later. (shrink)
This is a longer version of the paper published as 'Wittgenstein, Davidson, and Radical Interpretation. In everyday life we understand one another's utterances and actions, and hence interpret one another's linguistic and non-linguistic behaviour, with remarkable certainty, precision, and accuracy; and understanding of this kind seems basic to much else. Our interactions with others are mediated by interpretation of their actions, including speech; and much of what we regard ourselves as knowing is registered in language, or understood through our use (...) of it. In taking ourselves to understand a scientific theory, for example, we also take ourselves to understand, and so to be able to interpret, the linguistic behaviour of those who propound it; and again in describing our thoughts and feelings, we assume that we understand the terms in which we do so, and in such a way as to be answerable to others' interpretation of them. In this epistemic perspective the reach of intepretive understanding seems to approach that of language itself; and there seems nothing we understand better than our own language, and in that sense ourselves. (shrink)