apolliana: (Default)
When I tell people the topic of my dissertation, I frequently get responses such as, "Oh, I have no idea what my mental states are!" And I have to say, I'm baffled.

Usually, but not always, these people are extraverts. This leads me to suspect that perhaps this results from unstable or profuse identifications (in the Harry Frankfurt sense, wherein one 'identifies' oneself and one's standing volitions with those of others). Flakiness arises from the instability of such profuse or changing identifications, perhaps.

Then the questions as to what one ought to {do, love, want} will seem more relevant than they will seem to someone with fewer identifications yielding competing information about those things.

Of course, a person can have conflicting desires without being influenced by chaotic identifications. It's understandable to have desires pulling in two different directions. But sometimes there seems genuinely to be no fact of the matter; as when choosing ice cream: outside of a couple of broad parameters, there seems to be no preexisting preference there. In the no-fact-of-the-matter cases, what seems to be called for is not introspection, but some sort of commitment; or, if commitment sounds too detached, creation. I am hesitant to recommend this; but people do sometimes get stuck in an endless introspection loop, so that one begins to suspect that isn't the answer; whatever it is the person is looking for is not to be found antecedently existing. What's required is, rather, a leap.

This is to affirm the appeal of Moran's recommendations (from Authority and Estrangement to cases in which the introspection process (to the extent that naming one's desires is a process) fails to produce results of any kind. My overwhelming inclination is to say to these people, "You're looking in the wrong place." Though I do rather wonder why the process failed.

For the least self-estranging results, it would be best for the executive decision to be made in accord with one's identifications; though if conflict between those exists, another endless loop might be triggered. Additionally, if, in the case of no antecedent preference, in which a decision must be made based upon one's identifications, a subject might have a strong motivation to avoid any identifications. This would lead back to the endless unproductive introspection loop as well.
apolliana: (Mum)
Photobucket

An illustration from Craig, B. (2009). "How do you feel--now? The anterior insula and human awareness." Nature reviews. Neuroscience, 10(1), 59-70. The caption reads: "When salient moments occur rapidly, the number of global emotional moments increase during that time and, as a consequence, subjective time dilates."

I have apparently stumbled upon the Next Big Thing in "Consciousness" Studies innocently looking for material on interoception (awareness of bodily sensations)--which, it seems, lives in the insula. The author of this paper makes a grand case for the role of the insula in "awareness" generally. Occasionally these neuroscience papers contain unexpectedly neat turns of phrase or illustrations--albeit with none of the supporting conceptual argument I expect as a philosopher: e.g. "music (viewed as a rhythmic temporal progression of emotionally laden moments)" (same paper: 62), or the anxiety theory term "looming vulnerability."

This particular image captures my favorite thing in life--moments when time stops. Or the way I, anyway, seem to dwell in those moments long after they've passed; indeed, to live there, to find them my home. Because, perhaps, there is (are?) more of me in them.

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