Subjectivity

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Citations related to SUBJECTIVITY (works cited listed at bottom):


“Subjects in relation, in process, as open systems are always already inclined to deliberate. Therefore the dread that Juergen Habermas, Nancy Fraser, and other deliberative democrats feel in the face of poststructuralist theories of subjectivity is unwarranted. To the contrary, those interested in the project of deliberative democracy should welcome this theory of subjectivity, just as subjects-in–process can come to welcome the others in their midst.” McAfee, Noelle, Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship. Cornell U. Press. 2000. p. 20.


“We can never come to subjectivity apart from our relations with others. The self always has an ‘intersubjective core.’ For another, we come to subjectivity by participating in language, or more broadly, in communication. It is only in making a normative claim to an unlimited communication community that I finally have self-coincidence as a ‘I.’ Moreover, Habermas recognizes that subjectivity is a contingent affair, that it arises in variable situations in which some potential subject accepts this contingent life it is living as its own and claims for itself an identity.” Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship. Noelle McAfee, Cornell U. Press. 2000. p. 35.


“Insofar as the ego is created by identification with alien images, the sense of unity is purely fictive.” Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship. Noelle McAfee, Cornell U. Press. 2000. p. 64 in describing the Lacanian sense of identity.



“Thus, within the context of scientific materialism, the subjective realm of human perception, reasoning, and language are set in opposition to the objective realm of the physical world, its inexorable laws, and mathematics. While the objective realm has taken the place of the sacred, the subjective realm has taken the place of the profane.” Wallace, B. Alan. The Taboo of Subjectivity: Toward a New Science of Consciousness. Oxford University Press. 2000. p. 35


“Taking into account the role of human subjectivity appears to be equally taboo in both religious and scientistic fundamentalism. According to many schools of religious fundamentalism, the subjective minds of humans are seen as insignificant in relation to the supreme mind of God; and the deeds of humans pale in contrast to the works of the Almighty.” The Taboo of Subjectivity: Toward a New Science of Consciousness. B. Alan Wallace. Oxford University Press. 2000. p. 38


“In this view the subjective and objective poles of the continuum are vacuous. There is no way to justify the assertion that anything posited is purely objective or purely subjective. The world of human experience consists of a fusion of both elements, or better said, a primordial nonduality of those elements. Similarly, the ‘fact that a truth is toward the ‘conventional’ end of the convention-fact continuum does not mean that it is absolutely conventional–a truth by stipulation, free of every element of fact.’ This assertion by no means implies that such dualistic notions as subject and object are useless. On the contrary, they point out a practical distinction that is of great importance; but this distinction is only functional, not ontological as understood by the traditional dualism of scientific materialism.” The Taboo of Subjectivity: Toward a New Science of Consciousness. B. Alan Wallace. Oxford University Press. 2000. p. 64. [subquote is Hilary Putnam, Representation and Reality. MIT Press. 1988. p. 113]


“Like the Copernican shift from a geocentric to a heliocentric view of the solar system, the shift from scientific materialism to radical empiricism entails a shift from a matter-centered concept of reality to a holistic view of mental and physical phenomena as dependently related events.” The Taboo of Subjectivity: Toward a New Science of Consciousness. B. Alan Wallace. Oxford University Press. 2000. p. 75.


“The Ables have created a different but deep connection. It seems to be rooted in a mutual appreciation of the other’s capacity to enter relation as a distinct and whole human being. They each seem to recognize and respect both the other and themselves as complicated persons who bring something important and different, but often complementary, to the relationship.

“As self-possessed persons who share a commitment to sustaining a relationship they treasure, they do not seem surprised by the appearance of differences, nor do they take them as a suspension of their connection, nor expect that the differences will be resolved if one of them simply molds herself or himself to the preferences of the other. Not only does the relationship continue in the face of the difference, but they seem to find their successful, collaborative handling of the differences to be an especially satisfying aspect of the relationship. Both their closeness as a couple and their evaluation of the quality of their decisions are enhanced, rather than troubled, by their difference. Difficult though it may be, they ultimately value the experience of being forced by the other, or by their commitment to the relationship, to take seriously the integrity of the different world view from which the differing preference, opinion, or plan of action arises. Like respectful and enlightened anthropologists, they regularly visit, and deeply appreciate, the other’s ‘culture of mind.’ At their best, they suspend the tendency to evaluate the other’s ‘culture’ through the lens of their own, and seek rather to discover the terms by which the other is shaping meaning or creating value. Not only does each seem to benefit from frequent ‘travel’ to the other’s ‘culture,’ but the one who is ‘being visited’ also seems to appreciate the experience of having the other come in with a nonimperial stance to see how reality is being constructed....”

“... the Bakers’ account reflects a qualitatively different way of constructing conflict and difference. Theirs is also a story of surviving disillusionment, but the truth they have been seeing as an illusion is not the truth of romance, it is the truth of modernism. Long ago, they say they set aside the truth that the source of their closeness lay in their sharing the same identity. The truth they are now in the process of setting aside is that the source of their closeness lies in the respectful cooperation of psychologically whole and distinct selves.”

“Unlike the Ables, the Bakers are prouder of the way they suspect rather than honor their sense of their own and each other’s wholeness and distinctness. At least they are suspicious of any sense of wholeness or distinction that is limited to an identification of the self with its favorite way of constructing itself. They are suspicious of their own tendency to feel wholly identified with one side of any opposite and to identify the other with the other side of that opposite.”

“When they take this suspicion to their experience of conflict or difference in their relationship, a quite different picture emerges from that sketched by the Ables. The Ables consider themselves at their best when, in the face of difference, they do not disdain the other but seek to discover how the other’s point of view arises out of a ‘culture of mind’ with its own coherence and integrity. But what is never open to question is that the respectful anthropologist is visiting a foreign culture. In contrast, the Bakers consider themselves at their best when, in the face of difference, they stop to see if they haven’t, in fact, made the error of identifying themselves wholly with the culture of mind that gives rise to their position (which now shows up as a kind of ideology or orthodoxy) and identifying their partner wholly with a foreign culture of mind that gives rise to their partner’s position (which now shows up as an opposing ideology or heterodoxy). Mr. Able comes over to discover the world of Mrs. Able, but in all his respectful discovering he never questions his premise that this is not his world. When Mr. Baker comes over to try on the perspective he has identified with Mrs. Baker, however, he is vulnerable to discovering another world within himself....”

“... For the Bakers, the good working of the self and its recognition by the other begins with a refusal to see oneself or the other as a single system or form. The relationship is a context for a sharing and an interacting in which both are helped to experience their ‘multipleness,’ in which the many forms or systems that each self is are helped to emerge. While the Ables begin with the premise of their own completeness and see conflict as an inevitable by-product of the interaction of two psychologically whole selves, the Bakers begin with the premise of their own tendency to pretend to completeness (while actually being incomplete) and see conflict as the inevitable, but controvertible, by-product of the pretension to completeness.”

“Both the Ables and the Bakers satisfy the demands of the modernist curriculum to construct the self as a system or form. At the heart of the difference between their constructions of conflict are these two related questions about that self: (1) Do we see the self-as-system as complete and whole or do we regard the self-as-system as incomplete, only a partial construction of all that the self is? (2) Do we identify with the self-as-form (which self then interacts with other selves-as-forms) or do we identify with the process of form creation (which brings forms into being and subtends their relationship)? Another way of putting this second question is: Do we take as prior the elements of a relationship (which then enter into relationship) or the relationship itself (which creates its elements)?” Kegan, Robert. In Over Our Heads; the Mental Demands of Modern Life. Harvard University Press. 1994. pps. 310-313.


“She [Kristeva] points to the Freudian notion of the unconscious, saying that the ultimate foreigner is the foreigner within each of us, our own internal strangeness, our unconscious. ‘Strangely, the foreigner lives within us: he is the hidden face of our identity, the space that wrecks our abode, the time in which understanding and affinity founder’ (Kristeva 1991, 1). It is because we have not come to terms with this internal strangeness that we project strangeness onto others. That is why the foreigner is so compelling and still so threatening: he reminds us of our own internal not-as-homeness. The only way to come to terms with the foreigners in our midst is to come to terms with the foreigner within. ‘The foreigner comes in when the consciousness of my difference arises, and he disappears when we all acknowledge ourselves as foreigners, unamenable to bonds and communities.’” Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship. Noelle McAfee, Cornell U. Press. 2000. p. 103-4.


“In other words, if we do not find ways to deal with internal foreignness–if we do not come to be at home with ourselves–we will not be at home with those others in our midst, those with whom we are struggling to share political community. Community itself will be difficult to achieve. It may well be that problems that affect modern political societies, such as problems of racism, nationalism, and xenophobia, are at least in part a result of the psychic maladies affecting subjectivities today.” Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship. Noelle McAfee, Cornell U. Press. 2000. p. 104.


“Yet in the individualistic model of subjectivity, it is a challenge to conceive of why people would choose to come together to build public relationships. The notion of autonomous, unified subjectivity leads to the problem of how people get along in the world; they’re bound to just ‘put up’ with others....”

Alternatively, a theory of relational subjectivity suggests another model of group action, what we might call complementary agency. By this I mean people coming together in order to create new, broader understandings of what is in their interests. They help each other flesh out a more comprehensive picture of the whole.” Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship. Noelle McAfee, Cornell U. Press. 2000. p. 134-5


“Instead of taking relational subjectivity as the end of politics, we should see it as the very possibility of politics.” Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship. Noelle McAfee, Cornell U. Press. 2000. p. 161.


“Apart from others, subjectivity is inconceivable. Accordingly, the borders of selves and of communities are always in flux, never fixed, always open.” Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship. Noelle McAfee, Cornell U. Press. 2000. p. 188.


“An unencumbered self, nimble enough to cope with an unpredictable economy and an insecure personal world, is deprived of fundamental sources of nurture. Defining dependence as a sign of weakness, believing that persons find real identity ‘on their own,’ rather than with others with whom they share a life; forming interpersonal ties that do not create a community of fate in which what happens to one is of fundamental importance to others–these experiences necessarily undermine the self.” Swidler, Ann. “Saving the Self: Endowment versus Depletion in American Institutions.” pp. 41-55. Madsen, Richard et al. Meaning and Modernity: Religion Polity and Self. University of California Press. 2002. p. 52.


"Own is a very big word in therapy; you own your life, as if there's a self, an individual, enclosed self, within a skin. That's individualism. That's the philosophy of therapy. I question that. The self could be redefined, given a social definition, a communal definition." Hillman, James Networker, Sept/Oct 1991.


"However, the double bind is not merely a 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' situation. In and of itself, a no-win situation cannot drive someone crazy. The crucial element is not being able to leave the field, or point out the contradiction; and children often find themselves in just such a situation. Thus Laing sums up the double-bind predicament as: 'Rule A: Don't. Rule A.1: Rule A does not exist. Rule A.2: Do not discuss the existence or nonexistence of Rules A, A.1, or A.2.'

"What happens to a child caught in such a situation? Clearly, he will have to falsify his own feelings, convince himself that he really doesn't have a case, in order to maintain the relationship with his mother or father.

"'He was glad to see her [writes Bateson] and impulsively put his arm around her shoulders, whereupon she stiffened. He withdrew his arm and she asked, 'Don't you love me any more?' He then blushed, and she said, 'dear, you must not be so easily embarrassed and afraid of your feelings.' The patient was able to stay with her only a few minutes more and following her departure he assaulted an orderly and was put in the tubs.'" Berman, Morris, The Reenchantment of the World, Bantam, 1981, pps. 226-7.


"At each of these major shifts, infants create a forceful impression that major changes have occurred in their subjective experience of self and other. One is suddenly dealing with an altered person. And what is different about the infant is not simply a new batch of behaviors and abilities; the infant suddenly has an additional 'presence' and a different social 'feel' that is more than the sum of the many newly acquired behaviors and capacities. For instance, there is no question that when, sometime between two and three months, an infant can smile responsively, gaze into the parent's eyes, and coo, a different social feel has been created. But it is not these behaviors alone, or even in combination, that achieve the transformation. It is the altered sense of the infant's subjective experience lying behind these behavioral changes that makes us act differently and think about the infant differently. One could ask, which comes first, an organizational change within the infant or a new attribution on the part of the parent? Does the advent of new infant behaviors such as focal eye contact and smiling make the parent attribute a new persona to the infant whose subjective experience has not as yet changed at all? In fact, any change in the infant may come about partly by virtue of the adult interpreting the infant differently and acting accordingly. (The adult would be working within the infant's proximal zone of development, that is, in an area appropriate to infant capacities not yet present but very soon to emerge.) Most probably, it works both ways. Organizational change from within the infant and its interpretation by the parents are mutually facilitative. The net result is that the infant appears to have a new sense of who he or she is and who you are, as well as a different sense of the kinds of interactions that can now go on." Stern, Daniel, The Interpersonal World of the Infant, Basic Books, New York, 1985, pp. 8-9.


"As the first wonder of my Himalayan discovery began to wear off, I started describing it to myself in some such words as the following.

"Somehow or other I had vaguely thought of myself as inhabiting this house which is my body, and looking out through its two little round windows at the world. Now I find it isn't like that at all. As I gaze into the distance, what is there at this moment to tell me how many eyes I have here--two, or three, or hundreds, or none? In fact, only one window appears on this side of my facade, and that one is wide open and frameless and immense, with nobody looking out of it. It is always the other fellow who has eyes and a face to frame them; never this one.

"There exist, then, two sorts--widely different species--of human being. The first, of which I note countless specimens, evidently carries a head on its shoulders (and by "head" I mean an opaque and coloured and hairy eight-inch ball with various holes in it) while the second, of which I note only one specimen, evidently carries no such thing on its shoulders. And until now I had overlooked this considerable difference! Victim of a prolonged fit of madness, of a lifelong hallucination (and by 'hallucination' I mean what my dictionary says: apparent perception of an object not actually present), I had invariably seen myself as pretty much like other people, and certainly never as a decapitated but still living biped. I had been blind to the one thing that is always present, and without which I am blind indeed--to this marvelous substitute-for-a-head, this unbounded clarity, this luminous and absolutely pure void, which nevertheless is--rather than contains--all that's on offer. For, however carefully I attend, I fail to find here even so much as a blank screen on which these mountains and sun and sky are projected, or a clear mirror in which they are reflected, or a transparent lens or aperture through which they are viewed--still less a person to whom they are presented, or a viewer (however shadowy) who is distinguishable from the view. Nothing whatever intervenes, not even that baffling and elusive obstacle called "distance": the visibly boundless blue sky, the pink-edged whiteness of the snows, the sparkling green of the grass--how can these be remote, when there's nothing to be remote from? The headless void here refuses all definition and location: it is not round, or small, or big, or even here as distinct from there. (And even if there were a head here to measure outwards from, the measuring-rod stretching from it to that mountain peak would, when read end-on--and there's no other way for me to read it--reduce to a point, to nothing.) In fact, these coloured shapes present themselves in all simplicity, without any such complications as near or far, this or that, mine or not mine, seen-by-me or merely given. All twoness--all duality of subject and object--has vanished: it is no longer read into a situation which has no room for it....
"My first objection was: my head may be missing, but not its nose. Here it is, visibly preceding me wherever I go. And my answer was: if this fuzzy, pinkish, yet perfectly transparent cloud suspended on my right, and this other similar cloud suspended on my left, are noses, then I count two of them and not one; and the perfectly opaque single protuberance which I observe so clearly in the middle of your face is not a nose: only a hopelessly dishonest or confused observer would deliberately use the same name for such utterly different things. I prefer to go by my dictionary and common usage, which oblige me to say that, whereas nearly all human beings have a nose apiece, I have none.

"All the same, if some misguided sceptic, over-anxious to make his point, were to strike out in this direction, aiming mid-way between these two pink clouds, the result would surely be as unpleasant as if I owned the most solid and punchable of noses. Again, what about this complex of subtle tensions, movements, pressures, itches, tickles, aches, warmths, and throbbings, never entirely absent from this central region? Above all, what about these touch-feelings which arise when I explore here with my hand? Surely these findings add up to massive evidence for the existence of my head right here and now after all?

"I find they do nothing of the sort. No doubt a great variety of sensations are plainly given here and cannot be ignored, but they don't amount to a head, or anything like one. The only way to make a head out of them would be to throw in all sorts of ingredients that are plainly missing here--in particular, all manner of coloured shapes in three dimensions. What sort of head is it that, though containing innumerable sensations, is observed to lack eyes, ears, mouth, hair, and indeed all the bodily equipment which other heads are observed to contain? The plain fact is that this place must be kept clear of all such obstructions, of the slightest mistiness or colouring which could cloud my universe.

"In any case, when I start groping around for my lost head, instead of finding it here I only lose my exploring hand as well: it, too, is swallowed up in the abyss at the centre of my being. Apparently this yawning cavern, this unoccupied base of all my operations, this nearest but virtually unknown region, this magical locality where I thought I kept my head, is in fact more like a beacon-fire so fierce that all things approaching it are instantly and utterly consumed, in order that its world-illuminating brilliance and clarity shall never for a moment be obscured. As for these lurking aches and tickles and so on, they can no more quench or shade this central brightness than these mountains and clouds and sky can do so. Quite the contrary: they all exist in its shining, and through them it is seen to shine. Present experience, whatever sense is employed, occurs only in an empty and absent head. For here and now my world and my head are incompatibles: they won't mix. There is no room for both at once on these shoulders, and fortunately it is my head with all its anatomy that has to go. This is not a matter of argument, or of philosophical acumen, or of working oneself up into a state, but of simple sight--of LOOK-WHO'S-HERE, instead of IMAGINE-WHO'S-HERE, instead of TAKE-EVERYBODY-ELSE'S-WORD-FOR-WHO'S-HERE. If I fail to see what I am (and especially what I am not) it's because I'm too busily imaginative, too 'spiritual', too adult and knowing, too credulous, too intimidated by society and language, too frightened of the obvious to accept the situation exactly as I find it at this moment. Only I am in a position to report on what's here. A kind of alert naivety is what I need. It takes an innocent eye and an empty head (not to mention a stout heart) to admit their own perfect emptiness." Harding, D.E., On Having No Head, Arkana (Penguin Books), 1961, pp. 5-9.


“Thus our very identity, Kristeva writes, is ‘on trial.’ And our subjectivity, being heterogeneous, is constantly being reformed and remade. So there are at least two sources of heterogeneity and openness: the chora as the wellspring of desires and energy movements, which is manifest in the semiotic elements of signification, and the vulnerability of the subject as a system open to other systems. The subject-in-process is always a subject-in-relation, internally and externally. He or she is never constituted once and for all, but is always a provisional, tenuous, open system, hence alive in the fullest sense.” Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship. Noelle McAfee, Cornell U. Press. 2000. p. 71.


“Cartesian dualists reify both objective physical processes and subjective mental processes–taking both types of phenomena as inherently existing, independent substances–and they have never provided a satisfactory explanation for how these two different types of substances can interact. Philosophical idealists who reify the mind by asserting it as an inherently existing, independent entity--while maintaining that objective phenomena are mere epiphenomena of the mind–have never provided a satisfactory explanation for how physical epiphenomena can influence the mind. Philosophical materialists who reify matter by asserting it to be an inherently existing, independent substance–while maintaining that subjective mental processes are mere epiphenomena of matter–have never provided a satisfactory explanation of how mental epiphenomena can influence the body. The common error in all three of these philosophical positions is reification, which makes it impossible to construct compelling theories accounting for interrelationships among reified entities of any kind.” The Taboo of Subjectivity: Toward a New Science of Consciousness. B. Alan Wallace. Oxford University Press. 2000. p. 82.


“The more I struggle to fathom this critical moment, the more complex it becomes. Eventually, I am driven to conclude that I am–the I is–a moment of complexity. The networks in which nodular subjects form create binds and double-binds that cannot be undone. Turning back on myself to look at myself looking at myself, I realize thought is never my own, and thus thinking can never come full circle. As I try to think about, speak about, write about what seems to be happening, I discover that words are not mine but are merely borrowed for a brief moment.” Taylor, Mark C. The Moment of Complexity: Emerging Network Culture. University of Chicago. 2001. p. 232.


“To be open, for a human being, is to be alive. ‘The psyche is one open system connected to another, and only under those conditions is it renewable,’ writes Kristeva. ‘If it lives, your psyche is in love. If it is not in love, it is dead.” Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship. Noelle McAfee, Cornell U. Press. 2000. p. 69.


“Compare our times to the medieval era, for example. The sociologist Sorokin, in his exhaustive study of the cycles of cultures, defined an ‘ideal’ type, such as occurred in the Middle Ages in which a unitary structure of faith and ethics, and of hierarchical political and religious institutions, prevailed. In contrast to such a consensus that gave the spiritual dimension the highest value, our modern era since the Renaissance has granted the highest honor to the achievement of individualism and to an outlook that establishes materialism as the framework of our philosophy of ‘the good.’ In this type of culture, called by Sorokin ‘sensate,’ the ‘abundant life,’ which used to convey the implications of spiritual enrichment, has come to signify the acquisition of things.

“In this trend from unity to diversity we find truth becoming increasingly relative. We live by differing truths. Does this imply that truth is illusory and futile to seek? A difficult point for many to grasp is that it is the task of each and all of us to find our own truth, even though consensus may not make its appearance to reassure us.

“To be creative is to be original, and to achieve one’s unique individuality is a creative work. As we grow into self-fulfillment we become increasingly idiosyncratic. An accomplished individual becomes in some degree an anomaly!” Perry, John Weir. Trials of the Visionary Mind: Spiritual Emergency and the Renewal Process. State University of New York Press. 1999. P. 15.


“It’s my conviction that slight shifts in imagination have more impact on living than major efforts at change.” Moore, Thomas. Soul Mates: Honoring the Mysteries of Love and Relationship. Harper. 1994. P. viii.


“But a Darwinian interpretation of neural information processing offers two general reasons to suspect that we genuinely are self-determining and intentional creatures: one, because the operations are not prespecified; and two, because there is no clear dividing line between neural signal processing and neural architecture in a system where the circuits are created by patterns of signal processing. Evolution is the one kind of process able to produce something out of nothing, or, more accurately, able to create adaptive structural information where none previously existed. And the raw materials are the ubiquitous noise and context of the process. So an evolutionary process is an origination process–perhaps, as Richard Dawkins once remarked, the only known mechanism capable of being one. Evolution is the author of its spontaneous creations. In this regard, we do not need to explain away the subjective experience. We are what we experience ourselves to be. Our self-experience of intentions and ‘will’ are not epiphenomenal illusions. They are what we should expect an evolution like process to feel like!” Deacon, Terrence. The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain. W.W. Norton. 1997. P458.


“Our central and ongoing task in life, from the point of view of a field/phenomenological or experiential model, is the mapping and manipulating of the full field of experience into an integrated whole or gestalt which combines enough elements of inner needs and outer conditions to support our living and growing and generally moving on. We call this ‘generally moving on’ process development. Again, this is a process and a point of view that bring evolutionary thinking, psychological process, and what we call ‘meaning-making’ together into a coherent perspective.” Wheeler, Gordon. “The Developing Field: Toward a Gestalt Developmental Model.” From The Heart of Development; Gestalt Approaches to Working with Children, Adolescents and Their Worlds. Edited by Gordon Wheeler & Mark McConville, Gestalt Press, 2002. Pps. 37-82. P. 60.


“The self that acts creatively to unify the field into wholes of meaning and action, the self that is itself a developmental achievement, integrating all the other developmental field lines and themes we have been discussing in these new terms, is itself a narrative self, a story-maker and a story, by its very Gestalt nature. In this way, finally, development can be viewed as the narrative therapies view it: as the development of a coherent, meaningful, contextualized self-and-life-story. One that has clear boundaries, clear relatedness, meaningful inter- and intraconnections and articulations, one that leads somewhere, has energy for both presence and carrying forward in time and space into more inclusive and cohesively meaningful wholes of understanding. ‘Here and now and next,’ was Goodman’s phrase for it...” Wheeler, Gordon. “The Developing Field: Toward a Gestalt Developmental Model.” From The Heart of Development; Gestalt Approaches to Working with Children, Adolescents and Their Worlds. Edited by Gordon Wheeler & Mark McConville, Gestalt Press, 2002. Pps. 37-82. P. 76.


“In this way, self-process is the engine of its own growth by virtue of our inherent drive to organize the field. This is development; and this means, in turn, that the field in and out of which development takes place is itself a developing field.” Wheeler, Gordon. “The Developing Field: Toward a Gestalt Developmental Model.” From The Heart of Development; Gestalt Approaches to Working with Children, Adolescents and Their Worlds. Edited by Gordon Wheeler & Mark McConville, Gestalt Press, 2002. Pps. 37-82. P. 77.


"To often we are resigned to what happens in the blink of an eye. It doesn't seem like we have much control over whatever bubbles to the surface from our unconscious. But we do, and if we can control the environment in which rapid cognition takes place, then we can control rapid cognition. We can prevent the people fighting wars or staffing emergency rooms or policing the streets from making mistakes. Gladwell, Malcolm. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. 2005. Little, Brown and Co. Pp. 252-3.


“The given and the made are a dialectic, neither ever excluding the other and both constituting every meaning and moment. Without the opportunity to change previously structured experience, and without that previous structure to feel and think against, new experience would be impossible. We would be trapped in an evanescent subjectivism. But, on the other hand, without our capacity for an imagination that goes beyond experiential regularities, without the animation of spontaneous expression and the continuous reworking that represents our ceaseless effort to understand, we would never be able to redeem our experience from the stasis of dead convention. It is reflection that saves the unconscious from being nothing more than a set of strictures, and makes it a precious resource instead; and it is the unconscious that offers reflection the fecund and ever-changing materials with which to carry out its life-giving mission.” Stern, Donnel. 1997. Unformulated Experience: From Dissociation to Imagination in Psychoanalysis. Analytic Press. P. 30.


“Our conflicts over whether to know are contextualized in every instance; knowing is a function of the interpersonal field. Each moment of the field is defined by all levels of the interplay between the various conscious and unconscious influences we and our interactive partner(s) bring to the meeting. The interpersonal field structures the possibilities of knowing–the potential for what we can say and think and what we cannot. The field is the source of that continuous succession of personal ‘horizons’ or ‘clearings’ within which each of us exists. And yet its role is invisible and unsuspected. We seldom have any awareness that the fields we are always in the process of constructing with other people set the limits on what portion of our own prereflective experience we will be able to engage and formulate in words, and on the particular selection of interpretive formulations of that experience that will be available to us. Actually, we should go even further: we seldom have any awareness of participating in the construction of a field at all, whatever its function.

“We do have varying degrees of freedom about whether to know the fields we have already made, however. It is sometimes possible, if we take on risk and bear uncertainty, to reflect on the interpersonal constraints we so easily fall into.” Stern, Donnel. 1997. Unformulated Experience: From Dissociation to Imagination in Psychoanalysis. Analytic Press. P. 31.


“Thus contrary to what has been until recently the accepted view, the analyst’s observational powers in the consulting room cannot be so simply directed at an unknown presumed to have been already present ‘in’ the patient, independent of any structure contributed by the analyst. Because it cannot be assumed that there is a single truth, it cannot even be claimed that the patient could see it if his eyes were not blinkered by convention. What the patient does not yet know should no longer be portrayed only as substantive unconscious content, but instead also must be understood as unformulated, partially indeterminate, and actually absent. Its possibilities are the possibilities of language, and its formulation is an event that will be participated in by both patient and analyst. The unconscious should be conceived as something more than a container. It is more consistent with current practice to say, in line with Heidegger and those who followed him, that for something to be unconscious is for it to be so much present that we live in it instead of seeing it. To describe something as unconscious is to say that it is outside the range of explicit reflection.

“In modern hermeneutic views of understanding, interest is directed at what is already known, with the intention of stating explicitly the implicit assumptions underlying its construction. Once these assumptions have been specified, gaps in the material become evident, and phenomena that have fallen through the cracks of the implicit interpretive scheme may become visible. The analyst pursues an awareness of absence by focusing the most detailed attention on what is present. The emphasis shifts from imposing yet another interpretation to specifying the schemes according to which the material has already been interpreted.” Stern, Donnel. 1997. Unformulated Experience: From Dissociation to Imagination in Psychoanalysis. Analytic Press. P. 240.


“At these times experience and expectation are indistinguishable. When nothing is learned, when things just happen, when experience passes by without being noted, it is because there is no space between what is (unconsciously) anticipated and what is (consciously) experienced. There is no gap between them. As long as that is so, experience disappears as fast as it takes place. It is invisible, not because it makes no impression on one’s mind, but because the impression it makes coincides exactly with expectations one does not even know one has. One cannot spell it out because one has no reason to. It is taken for granted. There is no memory of it because whatever did happen had happened before in such a way that events will now be noticed only if they deviate. Generally, as Schachtel, and Bartlett before him, taught, the mere existence of expectations tends to preserve the status quo. Paradoxically, though the perception of deviations from expectation is the source of new experience, such perceptions are unlikely precisely to the extent that expectations have gelled. Once in place, anticipations influence the future to conform to their shape. We see what we expect to see–and we actually construct, too, what we expect to see.” Stern, Donnel. 1997. Unformulated Experience: From Dissociation to Imagination in Psychoanalysis. Analytic Press. P. 242.


“Learning, in the form of an unbidden perception, is what happens when a space appears between experience and expectation. This is true, separately, for analyst and patient. New experience does not arise de novo–it emerges from what has come before, it becomes visible as a contrast to what is already known, against the background of the familiar. Gadamer, for whom this is central, says it succinctly: ‘Only the support of familiar and common understanding makes possible the venture into the alien, the lifting up of something out of the alien, and thus the broadening and enrichment of our own experience of the world.’ It is from this vast fund of familiar and common understanding that unconscious expectations are drawn, and it is the articulation of these unformulated expectations that makes it possible to broaden and enrich our experience of the world. Learning is impossible precisely to the extent that expectations cannot be brought into language.

“The identification and explicit description of expectations is the major task of the analysis. Analyst and patient find their way to speaking the familiar, and then they find, in what has been spoken, other gaps that can be worded, so that the description of experience moves always toward a greater degree of precision and subtlety. New experience emerges naturally and inevitably in the form of alternatives to the familiar.” Stern, Donnel. 1997. Unformulated Experience: From Dissociation to Imagination in Psychoanalysis. Analytic Press. P. 243. [Subquote is Gadamer, H. 1966. “The Universality of the Hermeneutical Problem.” Philosophical Hermeneutics. Translated by Linge. University of California Press, 1976. P. 15.]
 

“Central to this emerging conception of personality is the idea that mental representations of the psychological meaning of situations, representations of self, others, possible future events, goals, affects, beliefs, expectations, as well as behavioral alternatives are not isolated, but are interconnected. We proposed that for a given individual the likelihood that thought A leads to thought B and emotion C is guided by a network of associations among cognitions and affects available to that individual. Through this network, for example, thinking about a person can activate the memory of the thoughts and feelings associated with a particular event in the past, which in turn may lead to other memories and thoughts that may make us smile or cry. Individuals differ stably in this network of inter-connections or associations, and such differences constitute a major aspect of personality.

“Furthermore, each unit is potentially connected to every other unit in the network, and each pair of units is characterized by a distinct and stable strength of association between them. Called recurrent networks, one of the most notable properties of such networks is that they settle into a set of activation patterns to satisfy multiple simultaneous constraints represented by the patterns and strengths of connections among the units in the network. The use of a recurrent, or parallel constraint satisfaction, network is consistent with models of human information processing in the broader cognitive sciences, including analogical reasoning, attitude change, explanatory coherence, dissonance reduction, and impression formation and dispositional inference.” Shoda, Yuichi & Scott Tiernan. “Personality as a Dynamical System: Emergence of Stability and Distinctiveness from Intra- and Interpersonal Interactions.” Personality and Social Psychology Review. 2002, Vol 6, No. 4, pp. 316-325. P. 317.


“That self-consciousness should turn out to be a vital, perhaps the vital, variable, should not surprise us. Western culture has been confronting a crisis of self-consciousness ever since the Renaissance, doubly so since Darwin, and triply so since the invention of the new cultural notation, the new literacy, created by the digital expressive field. Coming to terms with self-consciousness means coming to terms with the kind of being we are.” Lanham, Richard. The Economics of Attention: Style and Substance in the Age of Information. 2006. University of Chicago Press. P. 180.


“In terms of personal identity, objects assist the credible, effective performance of an identity – they are integral parts of an effective social performance whereby objects fuse with their possessors in order to offer a convincing social performance.” Woodward, Ian. Understanding Material Culture. 2007. Sage Publications. P. 137.


“Winnicott says that engagements with objects occur within ‘potential spaces’, which are a type of intermediate space somewhere between subject and object – not the individual subject, nor the external object environment, but the spaces of creativity and play that are created when both meet.” Woodward, Ian. Understanding Material Culture. 2007. Sage Publications. P. 140.


“Psychological research backs up James’ theories about where people believe their ‘self’ begins and ends. It suggests objects and things are very much a part of people’s sense of self. Belk reports Prelinger’s research on limits to selfhood that shows people tend to understand themselves first and foremost as embodied, though objects also rank highly in significance. In order of ranked importance, people imagine their self as: specific body parts (eyes, face, legs), psychological processes of their mind (like a person’s beliefs, values or their conscience), their personal identifying attributes (age, occupation), their possessions (watch, computer, CDs), abstract ideas (one’s moral viewpoints), other people (partners, parents), objects within one’s close physical environment (pens, lamps, books), followed finally by objects within distant environments (where one has travelled, one’s workplace). Interestingly, note how the possessions category ranks more highly than other people in imagining the self, suggesting the strong importance of objects. A potential factor at work in this ranking is the degree of personal control people perceive they have over things, which influences their perceptions of the relative closeness of these components of self.” Woodward, Ian. Understanding Material Culture. 2007. Sage Publications. P. 145. [Reference: Russell Belk. “Possessions and the extended self.” The Journal of Consumer Research. 1988. 15:139-65.]


“A human being for Descartes is a thinking thing (res cogitans). A thinking thing, however, is a representing, constructing thing, and is especially always a self-representing or self-positing thing. The Cartesian human being is thus at its core a self-positing, self-grounding being. Man in this way ceases to be considered the rational animal and instead is conceived as the willing being. Both humanism and the Reformation, as we have seen, similarly located man’s humanity in the will rather than the reason. Descartes is indebted to both but also moves beyond them. In contrast to humanism, his subject is abstracted from the historical world, and has no personality, no virtues or vices, no concern with immortal fame. The willing subject, however, is thus not constrained by the finitude of this world and consequently can imagine becoming its absolute master. Similarly, the subject’s will is not subordinate to or in conflict with the will of God. The problem that we saw at the heart of Luther’s thought and in the debate between Erasmus and Luther thus seems at least on the surface to be resolved.

“This subject’s rethinking of thinking as willing is the ground of Descartes’ attempt to construct a citadel of reason for human beings against the potentially malevolent omnipotence of God. This is particularly apparent in his formulation of his fundamental principle. The fundamental principle arises at the end of the path of doubt. In Descartes’ later accounts of thinking, doubt is classified as a form of the will, but it occupies an unusual place, since all other forms of the will are paired opposites (affirming and denying, desiring and holding in aversion). Doubting in one sense seems to stand between affirming and denying, but in another sense it looks as if it should be paired with faith or belief, which is perhaps suppressed in Descartes’ account because of its controversial place in Reformation debates. In fact, for Descartes the concealed opposite of doubt is not belief or faith but certainty. Certainty and natural science thereby replace faith and theology for Descartes.” Gillespie, Michael Allen. The Theological Origins of Modernity. 2008. University of Chicago Press. P. 199.

 

“An analysis of an incident occurring between a schizophrenic patient and his mother illustrates the double bind situation. A young man who had fairly well recovered from an acute schizophrenic episode was visited in the hospital by his mother. He was glad to see her and impulsively put his arm around her shoulders, whereupon she stiffened. He withdrew his arm and she asked, ‘Don’t you love me any more?’ He then blushed, and she said, ‘Dear, you must not be so easily embarrassed and afraid of your feelings.’ The patient was able to stay with her only a few minutes more and following her departure he assaulted an aide and was put in the tubs.

“Obviously, this result could have been avoided if the young man had been able to say, ‘Mother, it is obvious that you become uncomfortable when I put my arm around you, and that you have difficulty accepting a gesture of affection from me.’ However, the schizophrenic patient doesn’t have this possibility open to him. His intense dependency and training prevents him from commenting upon his mother’s communicative behavior, though she comments on his and forces him to accept and to attempt to deal with the complicated sequence.” Bateson, Gregory. 1972. Steps to an Ecology of Mind. Ballantine. P. 217.


Authors & Works cited in this section:

Bateson, Gregory. Steps to an Ecology of Mind
Berman, Morris, The Reenchantment of the World
Deacon, Terrence. The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language
Gillespie, Michael Allen. The Theological Origins of Modernity
Gladwell, Malcolm. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
Harding, D.E., On Having No Head
Hillman, James Networker
Kegan, Robert. In Over Our Heads; the Mental Demands of Modern Life
Lanham, Richard. The Economics of Attention: Style and Substance in the Age of Information
Madsen, Richard et al. Meaning and Modernity: Religion Polity
McAfee, Noelle, Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship
Moore, Thomas. SoulMates: Honoring the Mysteries of Love and
Perry, John Weir. Trials of the Visionary Mind: Spiritual Emergency
Shoda, Yuichi & S. Tiernan. Personality as a Dynamical System: Emergence of Stability and Distinctiveness
Stern, Daniel, The Interpersonal World of the Infant
Stern, Donnel. Unformulated Experience: From Dissociation to Imagination
Taylor, Mark C. The Moment of Complexity: Emerging Network Culture
Wallace, B. Alan. The Taboo of Subjectivity: Toward a New Science
Wheeler, Gordon. “The Developing Field: Toward a Gestalt Development
Woodward, Ian. Understanding Material Culture

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