This paper explores the work of Nicolas Rashevsky, a Russian émigré theoretical physicist who developed a program in "mathematical biophysics" at the University of Chicago during the 1930s. Stressing the complexity of many biological phenomena, Rashevsky argued that the methods of theoretical physics -- namely mathematics -- were needed to "simplify" complex biological processes such as cell division and nerve conduction. A maverick of sorts, Rashevsky was a conspicuous figure in the biological community during the 1930s and early 1940s: (...) he participated in several Cold Spring Harbor symposia and received several years of funding from the Rockefeller Foundation. However, in contrast to many other physicists who moved into biology, Rashevsky's work was almost entirely theoretical, and he eventually faced resistance to his mathematical methods. Through an examination of the conceptual, institutional, and scientific context of Rashevsky's work, this paper seeks to understand some of the reasons behind this resistance. (shrink)
The belief that the spirits of the dead can return to haunt the living exists either as a tenet or as a marginal conviction in all civilizations, whether ancient or modern. More often than not, the dead do not return to reunite the living with their loved ones but rather to lead them into some dreadful snare, entrapping them with disastrous consequences. To be sure, all the departed may return, but some are predestined to haunt: the dead who have been (...) shamed during their lifetime or those who took unspeakable secrets to the grave. From the brucolacs, the errant sprits of outcasts in ancient Greece, to the ghost of Hamlet’s vengeful father, and on down to the rapping spirits of modern times, the theme of the dead—who, having suffered repression by their family or society, cannot enjoy, even in death, a state of authenticity—appears to be omnipresent on the fringes of religions and, failing that, in rational systems. It is a fact that the “phantom,” whatever its form, is nothing but an invention of the living. Yes, an invention in the sense that the phantom is meant to objectify, even if under the guise of individual or collective hallucinations, the gap that the concealment of some part of a loved one’s life produced in us. The phantom is, therefore, also a metapsychological fact. Consequently, what haunts are not the dead, but the gaps left within us by the secrets of others.Because the phantom is not related to the loss of a loved one, it cannot be considered the effect of unsuccessful mourning, as is the case of melancholics or of all those who carry a tomb within themselves. It is the children’s or descendants’ lot to objectify these buried tombs through diverse species of ghosts. What comes back to haunt are the tombs of others. The phantoms of folklore merely objectify a metaphor active within the unconscious: the burial of an unspeakable fact within the loved one.Here we are in the midst of clinical psychoanalysis and still shrouded in obscurity, an obscurity, however, that the nocturnal being of phantoms can, paradoxically, be called upon to clarify. The most recently published book of essays by NicolasAbraham is Rythmes de l’oeuvre, de la traduction et de la psychanalyse . “Notes on the Phantom” is the preliminary statement of his theory of transgenerational haunting. Nicholas Rand, assistant professor of French at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, is the English-language editor of Abraham’s works. (shrink)
All disciplines have their histories in addition to their theories. In general, the history of a set of problems is treated separately from the nature of the problems themselves. The axioms of a given discipline may be the object of external inquiry but are not usually subject to historical examination. In this way, psychoanalysis has been investigated, even challenged, by a variety of other disciplines: biology, linguistics, history, philosophy, literature, and so forth. One may ask whether psychoanalysis can also become (...) its own object, effectively distancing itself from itself. Will historical scrutiny provide criticism from within and thereby alter the nature of psychoanalysis?It has been our observation that the history of the creation of psychoanalysis and of the psychoanalytic movement suggests deficiencies and omissions within psychoanalytic theory. This implies something far beyond the simple idea that no serious examination of theoretical problems can occur without an understanding of their history. Not only the past but the future of psychoanalysis, both as a theory and as a clinical practice, may well depend on the conscious assessment and assimilation of its own history. “The Secret of Psychoanalysis: History Reads Theory” is intended in part as an introduction to NicolasAbraham’s “Notes on the Phantom” which will, in turn, illuminate the theoretical and practical scope of this essay.A history of Freudian psychoanalysis could be written based on the voices of dissenting insiders, without including schismatics such as Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Wilhelm Stekel, and others who eventually developed independent systems of thought. The detailed interpretation of such firsts is already a consecrated approach to psychoanalytic history. But much remains to be learned from the internal criticism of those who have participated in Freud’s movement or have sought sympathetically to understand the birth and progress of Freudian psychoanalysis. Most of the disagreements concern theoretical and clinical issues or the clocked access to documents that are essential to the history assessment of psychoanalysis. This is Ludwig Marcuse’s case as he writes to Ernest Jones on 10 October 1957.1 1. Ludwig Marcuse is the author of Freud und sein Bild vom Menschen [Freud and his image of man] . Nicholas Rand, assistant professor of French at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, is completing a book on the notion of hiding in literature, philosophy, and psychoanalysis. Maria Torok is the author of The Wolf Man’s Magic Word , recently published in translation. “The Secret of Psychoanalysis” is part of a book-length study Rand and Torok are writing on Freud and psychoanalytic theory. (shrink)
This review article of Mey's When Voices Clash rethinks the links drawn by cognitive poetics between thought-representation and language in relation to the category of rhythm and metre as symptoms, in Plato's Republic and in the psychoanalytic theory of Freud, Lacan, and in particular in NicolasAbraham's Rhythms. Utilizing Abraham's idea of rhythmizing consciousness as a non-linear psychic unfolding coeval with the Freudian unconscious, an unfolding in constant tension and interaction with cognitive consciousness's periodicity, linearity, and tendency (...) to produce semblants of verifiability, I argue that cognitive poetics' focus on conscious cognition involves a repression of unconscious processes imperative to the thinking of thought-representation. But in Jacques Lacan's terms, repression is not foreclosure , but the preservative and protective putting into operation of what Lacan theorizes as the bar. Cognitive poetics' functioning as bar with regard to metrics symptomatizing unconscious states hence creates just the comdition for the preservation and hence mediation and circulation of unconscious material whereof it refuses to speak. I hence propose a “metronymic analysis“ of sound, rhythm, and metre, not sense, as a way of reading which might enrich literary pragmatics, alowing it to hear, beyond patronymics, echoes of the matronymic archaic. (shrink)
God demands that Abraham sacrifice his son Isaac. Why? Kierkegaard tells us that God requires of Abraham a "teleological suspension of the ethical." In this essay I explore the meanings of the Ethical, God, and Faith in an effort to make sense of this phrase, and, more broadly, of the biblical story itself.
Archetypal psychology suggests the possibility of a leadership archetype representing the unconscious preferences of human beings as a species about the appropriate relationships between leaders and followers. Mythological analysis compared God’s leadership in the Abraham myth with modern visionary, ethical and situational leadership to find similarities reflecting continuities in human thinking about leadership over as long as 3600 years. God’s leadership behavior is very modern except that God is generally more relationship oriented. The leadership archetype that emerges is of (...) a leader that develops his/her follower by reliably maintaining a vision, behaving according to firm ethical values even when it weakens the leader’s authority, accepting suffering when the follower is unreliable, and always forgiving even when the follower behaves with hubris in an attempt to overthrow the leader. If God’s leadership principles were mandatory in management, many dysfunctional leaders would be disqualified and many of the negative consequences of poor leadership might be averted. (shrink)
Most readings of Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling take its account of the Abraham and Isaac story to imply fairly obviously that duty towards God is absolutely distinct from, and therefore capable of superseding, duty towards neighbor or son. This paper will argue, however, that the Akedah, or ‘binding’ of Isaac, as Kierkegaard’s pseudonym, Johannes de Silentio, depicts it, binds Abraham to Isaac in a revitalized neighbor relation that is not at all subordinate, in any simple way, to (...) class='Hi'>Abraham’s God-relation. The two relations are defined by an intimate mutual tension, a dynamic of passionate inwardness that responds to the immediate demands of the neighbor as fully as the ethics that Levinas notoriously accuses Kierkegaard of having ignored. It is also the dynamic of time consciousness, which for Levinas is fundamentally ethical. I show that Kierkegaardian faith can be viewed as the dynamic of time-consciousness transformed by passionate inwardness into one’s God-relation—that is, converted into a certain religious mode of life. The ethics corresponding to this—an ethics of neighbor love superseding the ‘social morality’ that Silentio, following Hegel, calls the ‘ethical’—would then be the same dynamic of time-consciousness transformed by passionate inwardness into one’s neighbor-relation. The key to the argument is seeing the need to substitute for the spatial dichotomy ‘interior/exterior,’ which results in so much trouble when comparing Levinas and Kierkegaard, the temporal contraries ‘giving up’ and ‘getting back.’. (shrink)
The aim of this article is to analyze how Niccolò Machiavelli conceptualizes the people in the Discorsi sopra prima deca di Tito Livio. For this purpose, in first place, we will sequentially restore the mentions on people that are linked to the passions. In second place, we will focus on the treatment of the different passions. Finally, we will illuminate what kind of people are at stake and how the people intervene in the construction of the political bond.
The article analizes the several times of Proclus‘s reception by Nicholas of Cusa’s thought. The direct reading of Proclus can be established because Expositio in Parmenidem Platonis –Cod.Cus. 186– and Elementatio theological –Cod.Cus.195– (Moerbeke’s translation) and De theologia Platonis Libri VI –Cod.Cus.185– (Petrus Balbus’s translation) are in his Library in Bernkastel-Kues with his marginalia. The assimilation of doctrines can be considered assuming that the implicits and explicits references to Plato’s Diadochus, especially in the last works.
In 1964, the American Medical Association invited liberal theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel to address its annual meeting in a program entitled “The Patient as a Person” . Unsurprisingly, in light of Heschel’s reputation for outspokenness, he launched a jeremiad against physicians, claiming: “The admiration for medical science is increasing, the respect for its practitioners is decreasing. The depreciation of the image of the doctor is bound to disseminate disenchantment and to affect the state of medicine itself” [1, p. 35]. (...) Heschel’s reference to “disenchantment” suggests that he may have been familiar with the work, or at least the outlook, of sociologist Max Weber, whose 1917 address “Science as a Vocation” portrays the modern world as disenchanted by the progress of rationalism. Heschel’s life’s vocation had been to uncover the inner meaning of religious faith and to translate that faith into principled action. Heschel saw disenchantment not as an inescapable aspect of modern life but rather as the byproduct of physicians’ conscious choices to seek worldly success and material comfort. Yet, because of their privileged position as witnesses to human vulnerability, physicians possess an obligation to develop their own personhood, to re-enchant medicine, and through medicine to spark a positive transformation in all of modern life. As Heschel says, “The doctor must realize the supreme nobility of his vocation, to cultivate a taste for the pleasures of the soul. … The doctor is a major source of moral energy affecting the spiritual texture and substance of the entire society” [1, pp. 34, 38]. While Heschel’s conception of the physician’s role is romanticized and idealized, changes in the organization and practice of medicine have validated his concerns. (shrink)
A review of Nicolas Bommarito's book, "Inner Virtue", which argues persuasively that our "inner states" - emotions, pleasures, attentional habits - can be virtuous if they manifest what he calls our "moral concerns".
Why do we admire Abraham1 so much? The standard answer is that Abraham’s faith in God is very great. Now in the context of Genesis, “faith in God” does not mean “belief in God’s existence.” Polytheism, not atheism, is the adversary in Genesis. Nor does “faith in God” mean “believing in order that we may come to understand God”2 or “believing because we cannot fully understand God”3 or “believing despite what we understand about God.”4 To minimize anachronism and controversy (...) I shall work with a minimalist reading of “faith in God,” a meaning shared by all interpretations. On every plausible conception of faith, if Abraham has faith in God, then he trusts God’s word. In Genesis “faith in God” means at least, “trusting that God will keep His promises.”5 But Abraham does not display this sort of faith. I shall argue that Abraham actually displays a lack of trust in God throughout his whole life. To show this I shall review the events of Abraham’s life, assessing his level of faith in God at each point. (shrink)
In this paper, I will compare Kant’s and Kierkegaard’s reflections on faith as they are articulated in the particular analyses of Abraham’s sacrifice. Kant’s prosecution of Abraham, which commences from the idea of “natural religion”, rests on two interrelated lines of attack, an epistemological one and ethical one, which deem Abraham’s action to be morally reprehensible. For Kant, the primacy of the practical reason leaves no special room for divine duties that are not ethical at the same (...) time. On the other hand, Kierkegaard’s defence of the sacrifice is orbiting around the possibility of a teleological suspension of the ethical. If such a suspension is possible, then faith is a paradox according to which the single individual is higher than the universal. As such, an absolute duty to god is possible, but such a duty is not rationally justifiable or publicly communicable. My paper ends with to some considerations about the protestant inheritance of both, Kant and Kierkegaard. (shrink)
The explicit topic of Fear and Trembling's third Problema (the longest single section, accounting for a third of the book's total length), the theme of Abraham's silence stands not far in the background in every other section, and its importance is flagged by the pseudonym—Johannes de silentio—under which Kierkegaard had the book published. Here I aim to defend an interpretation of the meaning of the third Problema's central claim—that Abraham cannot explain himself, 'cannot speak'—and to argue on its (...) basis for an interpretation of the work as a whole. (shrink)
Humphry Osmond wrote to Aldous Huxley in 1956 proposing the term “psychedelic,” coined from two Greek words to mean “mind manifesting.” The scholars, one a psychiatrist and the other a celebrated novelist and philosopher, were exuberant about the potential of drugs for accessing the mind. Huxley favored a phrase from William Blake: -/- If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. -/- He postulated that psychedelics disturbed the “cerebral reducing valve” (1954), and (...) that this was in fact the shared mechanism for regular drug trips, as well as schizophrenic and mystical experiences. If it were the case, the drugs could offer a chemical shortcut to the divine, and a reasonable way to scientifically study mental illness. -/- With such ideas in vogue, the 1950s were heady years, at least for research on psychedelic drugs. More than 750 articles were published on LSD alone. Some studies made use of the drug experience to model schizophrenia, others to develop treatments for alcoholism. And as Nicolas Langlitz explains in Neuropsychedelia: The Revival of Hallucinogen Research Since the Decade of the Brain, the brain as filter – the idea of gates or doors (which, yes, also gave name to the band) – would go on to serve as a significant shared conceptual matrix for psychopharmacologic research, from experimental psychosis to experimental mysticism (10). (shrink)
This paper recasts the normative shape of Fear and Trembling by presenting an ‘ethical reading’ based on an ethic of care. It will be argued that Abraham's response represents a commitment to sustain and deepen his fundamental relationship with God, to make absolute his relation to the Absolute. Since most readers tend to focus myopically on ‘the trial’ itself, apart from the context and history of the God-relationship, the proffered interpretations tend inevitably to distort the nature and significance of (...)Abraham's form of life. By remembering the pattern of attachment between God and Abraham, I think that a different normative picture will emerge, one which can be expressed in the grammar of care. (shrink)
This chapter addresses the greatest fear about divine commands – that God may command something evil – focusing on a modernized version of Genesis 22, in which Abraham finds it difficult to reject any of the following jointly incompatible beliefs: whatever God commands is not morally wrong to do, God commands me to kill my son as a sacrifice, such human sacrifice is morally wrong. It argues that divine command theorists should not reject but that in any cultural and (...) religious context in which the dilemma can be taken seriously, is the belief to reject. (shrink)