This paper describes the semiotic process by which parents, as attachment figures, enable infants to learn to make meaning. It also applies these ideas to psychotherapy, with the therapist functioning as transitional attachment figures to patients where therapy attempts to change semiotic processes that have led to maladaptive behavior. Three types of semiotic processes are described in attachment terminology and these are offered as possible precursors of a neuro-behavioral nosology tying mental illness to adaptation. Non-conscious biosemiotic processes in infant-parent attachment (...) are the basis for early adaptation as well as adaptation or maladaptation in adulthood. Mother-infant interaction can be described as a series of signs, each interpreted so as to dispose the behavior of the other interactant towards the goal of protecting the infant from danger and distress. Regulating arousal, scaffolding infants’ behavior in the infants’ zone of proximal development, and repairing ruptures in the interaction are crucial to infants’ development and adaptation. In semiotic terms, each person activates multiple interpretants to make meaning of sensory stimulation. Non-verbal semiotic synchrony establishes the relationship whereas shared repair of ruptures promotes change. Attachment strategies, as learned adaptations to threat, are neuro-psychological strategies for making meaning of sensory information so as to dispose protective behavior. Type A privileges cognitive-temporal information, Type C affective information, Type B has no bias. Type A and C limit semiotic freedom by using ‘short-cuts’ in processing that produce quick protective behavior in the short-term. Type B includes more representations, and thus more semiotic freedom, resulting in slower responses and long-term flexibility. Attachment strategies function as meta-interpretants for applying one semiotic process to most incoming information about danger. A, B, and C case examples are analyzed in semiotic terms. Psychotherapy can be considered a helping process embedded in a transitional attachment relationship. For psychotherapy to be successful, both somatic stabilization and a therapeutic relationship are needed. Treatment that uses scaffolded semiotic processes in each patient’s ZPD to repair moment-to-moment ruptures holds the potential to reorganize attachment strategies and transfer that potential to reflective language and relationships outside the therapy. The outcome should be greater semiotic freedom such that the individual can trust their own mental processes and use them to establish safe relationships. Language can speed the process, but premature reliance on verbal transformations of non-conscious information can carry misattributions into a second layer of misconstrued meaning and maladaptive behavior. Even when dangerous family relationships and external danger cannot be changed, patients can come to know their own minds and use information to regulate their behavior. The goal of psychotherapy is to free patients from their past by enabling them to be secure about the functioning of their own minds, so that they can both avoid eliciting harm and also establish supportive relationships. (shrink)
Sartre’s memoir Words turns on his mid-life realisation that, although he had abandoned belief in God, he had hitherto based his work on a religious model. From this point God no longer appears as a primary reference in his writings. This is in sharp contrast with the pervasive presence of God in earlier works, especially in his ontology and related reflections on ethics. In ontology Sartre was particularly concerned with the Cartesian idea of the creator God as ens causa sui. (...) Adapting this to his own system, he uses the idea of causa sui to mark the absolute (but non-substantial) existence of for-itself being (consciousness) as separate from the uncreated plenitude of in-itself being. He then argues that the idea of God as a consciousness that founds its own being is an impossible synthesis of the for-itself and the in-itself. The idea nonetheless remains fundamental for consciousness, for desire, which arises in response to lack, ultimately the lack of in-itself being, reflects an original choice that leads to constant striving towards the impossible goal of being God. This theme haunts the ontology from beginning to end. Sartre offers a system to rival Descartes or Leibniz, but adopts a quasi-religious framework of salvation in which, apart from the promise of a possible escape from ontological destiny, human beings are condemned to futility. In ethics he explores the idea of conversion from original choice to an authentic choice of freedom, but fails to break out of the closed framework set by the ontology. (shrink)
Charles Taylor in A Secular Age describes the modern secular age as one in which ‘the eclipse of all goals beyond human flourishing … falls within the range of an imaginable life for masses of people’. This article reflects on his historico-analytic investigation of the emergence of modern secularity and his account of how it shapes the current conditions of belief. Taylor challenges the widespread presumption against belief mainly on ethical considerations, especially what counts as human fulfilment. The article argues (...) that he fails to deal adequately with epistemic considerations bearing on belief and unbelief. Furthermore, his argument is weakened by a surprising absence of attention to the primary account of human fulfilment in Greek philosophy as a central element in the Christian tradition. (shrink)
Paul Crittenden sets out to recover the past philosophical practice of treating developmental questions as an important part of ethical inquiry and to bring moral development, moral education, and moral philosophy back together again. The first part of this extremely thorough work is concerned with the main contemporary accounts of how children come to be moral beings. Against this background, the second part consists of historical studies of major accounts of morality in a developmental context. Crittenden stresses the necessity of (...) community for moral development and also address a number of conceptual questions, including the relationship between morality and religion. (shrink)
Book Information Nietzsche's Middle Period. Nietzsche's Middle Period Ruth Abbey New York Oxford University Press 2000 xvii + 208 Hardback £33.50 By Ruth Abbey. Oxford University Press. New York. Pp. xvii + 208. Hardback:£33.50.
Book Information On Virtue Ethics. On Virtue Ethics Rosalind Hursthouse Oxford Oxford University Press 1999 ix + 275 Hardback 25 By Rosalind Hursthouse. Oxford University Press. Oxford. Pp. ix + 275. Hardback: 25.