Etienne

  • Christopher Boone , who entertains extremely difficult relations with social norms and conventional forms of human interactions, is altogether the meeting point of truth, paradox and irony. He is the figure of the […]

    • I like that you brought up Christopher’s maturity and I propose that it began very early in the novel when he decides to face his fears and discomforts. Christopher, afraid of strangers and talking to people he isn’t familiar with, decides to face these fears in order to get to the bottom of the murder mystery. He says, “So talking to people in our street was brave. But if you are going to do detective work you have to be brave, so I had no choice” (35). I believe this is where Christopher begins his maturation and was continuously glad when he continued to overcome obstacles in order to find the answers he was seeking, no matter which way his path took him.

  • Instead of producing a commentary on the novel, I’d rather move in a paratextual direction that usually contributes to shed light on the main text itself (Frankenstein)

    From the author’s introduction to her nov […]

  •  « The Man who walked away »
    Embodied Empathy and epistemic minimalism
    Casey’s novel abounds in notation about time as a striking indicator of consciousness and awareness. It is no exaggeration to see the doctor […]

    • I really like your discussion on feet and Albert’s delayed awareness. It is interesting that you pointed out his lack of wonder during his wanders (and I love your use of those words!) I also like that you brought up the ambiguity of his age- a measurement of life based on time. His uncertainty of his age parallels the travels his has done and his uncertainty of how long he has travelled. Perhaps there is a connection between Albert’s actual sleeping and his “sleeping” during his wanderings where he is unaware of his thoughts in both circumstances (?) .

  • Scientists and philosophers can hardly come to an agreement on what free will means for a number of reasons:
    a) first of all the history of the concept of free will is mostly a theological and a philosophical affair that mostly feeds on the mind/body dichotomy
    b) Scientific enquiry tends to be positivist in the sense of setting out to establish…[Read more]

  • Unlike digestion, perhaps like money, but much more like dance
    Damasio is a Neuroscientist. He certainly does not see  self , identity and personality as things or objects presenting a certain structure of rigidity, but he shows no reluctance in defining them as “biological processes built within the brain from numerous interactive components, step by step over a period of time”(What is Consciousness?). Alva Noe  is a philosopher working at the intersection of  Neuroscience, art and psychology of perception.  He establishes his epistemological identity as a philosopher of the cognitive science. His work is theoretical.

    I realize now that reading Alva Noe after Damasio is quite logical from the perspective of  the arguments  put forth by the author of  Out of our Heads. Noe  is opposed to the idea of reducing everything to neuronal connections as the basis for the explanation of consciousness: “Consciousness is not something that happens within us. It is something we do or make. Better it is something we achieve. Consciousness is more like dancing than it is like digestion”. This statement is an indictment of the scientific views similar to the one adopted by Damasio. Let us think of it : Out of Our heads ( published in 2006) is posterior to The feeling of What happens (2000). By choosing not to define consciousness in terms of happening , but in terms of something we do, Noe goes squarely against the grain of Damasio’s argument that affirms the possibility of investigating the neurobiology of feelings and emotions, and henceforth consciousness. For Damasio the neurobiology of consciousness is not out of reach, since there seems to be a correlation between the emotional system and the immune system.

    Noe’s approach to consciousness is informed by philosophical concept and nurtured by the epistemological assessment of what the neuroscientist themselves are formulating as a result of their studies. He is as tough towards varieties of Cartesians as he is severe towards those who think they have found “neural correlate of Consciousness”.  In an effort to propose a good metaphor for Consciousness, Noe moves from money to dance. The image of dance seems to be a more fitting representation of Consciousness as involving the dancer, the partner, and the materiality of the dance floor. In terms of verbal action , it is crucial to notice that Noe uses successively three verbs: doing, making , and achieving. Let us be mindful of the idea of goal implicitly present in the use of the verb to achieve.

    In making even a brief comparison between Noe’s-like approach and Damasio-God-like scientific pretense, one can easily discern that the study of Consciousness has become an academic war zone opposing Science and Philosophy-, the later positing itself as more conceptually equipped to tackle complex problems.

  • Unlike digestion, perhaps like money, but much more like dance
    Damasio is a Neuroscientist. He certainly does not see self , identity and personality as things or objects presenting a certain structure of rigidity, but he shows no reluctance in defining them as “biological processes built within the brain from numerous interactive components, s…[Read more]

  • The reader of this blog will be disappointed if he/she expects any definitive statement or thesis. Instead of a clearly defined argument we are throwing ideas and impressions that shall later on be at the core of […]

    • I liked the way your explanation was going, but I do have one comment. When you said that “Mrs. Dalloway emerges from the novel as someone very knowledgeable about people and things, very knowledgeable about both as they relate to each other. Such a social skill is a sure sign of acute consciousness!” I felt a little thrown off. The post starts off, in my mind, by equating conscious to intangibles (“her/self;” as you do not use the term to reference her physical body, but instead in terms of self possession), but this strand quickly gives way with the uses of “things.” Since the novel takes place so much in the ether of thought and only intermittently in the physical world–and even then only as a device to jump backwards–I wonder if it is possible to talk of the knowledge of things and personalities if personalities are subjective in nature and mere ideas themselves. The reason I ask is that your line “The her/self is a forceful and indomitable affirmation of the ego apprehended in first person psychology or in social psychology categories,”–which is a glorious sentence by the way– invited me to dismiss the foundational accessories that color the book–hats, dresses, flowers, etc.– and replace those character markers for the memories which they trigger. They establish ideas that lack physicality (to affirm, the ego) and are further complicated if they are referred to as things.

    • I was intrigued by your comments regarding “social consciousness” and “the self socially situated” in Mrs. Dalloway. This particular terminology highlights the way in which Woolf constructs her character’s profiles, as it were, none of whom escape social branding at their cores. Most specifically, I am reminded of Miss Kilman’s self-reflective passages. She is well aware of her intelligence, for instance, but can’t help rueing her poor class standing; for while she is resigned to her perceived less-than-good looks, she knows that she can never afford to create a proper appearance or attire (forever living up to her surname, Kilman), because she’ll therefore never manage to attract or otherwise have a future (or progeny) with a man. And, seeing that her only hope of love lies with a teenage girl who walks out on her, her fate is most “unhappy”.

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