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The Books/Reading Thread

Discussion in 'GMD Social Forum' started by Matt, May 16, 2007.

  1. Vimana

    Vimana Member

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    I can't read The Interpretation of Dreams anymore. Freud discards any explanation (even a plausible one) that isn't super complex or self-congratulatory. He also spends ridiculous amounts of text justifying himself instead of just explaining his theory. He is the stupidest smart person I know of.
     
  2. Dak

    Dak mentat

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    Freud was not exactly a fan of Occam's Razor ....
     
  3. Vimana

    Vimana Member

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    I actually wrote a few hours ago that he needed it.

    Freud: 1 + 1 = 2. On second thought, that doesn't sound right. 1 has some kind of sexual conflict in his childhood with his father and is displacing himself into another 1 and in the process of that he becomes 2.
     
  4. Einherjar86

    Einherjar86 Active Member

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    It's too bad that people aren't numbers.
     
  5. Vimana

    Vimana Member

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    The general idea lined up with the conception of dreaming I had from evopsych:

    Dreaming was selected for in mammals because it helped them to sort out memories, learn, and prepare for things in their sleep. Freud's idea that dreams are wish fulfillments aligns here, and I was hoping I could get some more interesting details to shed more light on dreaming, but instead he just wants the most complex explanation.

    It got frustrating when he started talking about distortion of information in dreams. Rather than simply saying it's because our reasoning is not as lucid in our sleep and that we can have conflicting desires (two things he does actually mention), he says there's some kind of "second agency" of consciousness that permits what can be conscious to us in dreams.
     
  6. Einherjar86

    Einherjar86 Active Member

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    Of course, there has to be a second agency. As you say, we have conflicting desires and affective/illogical thought processes that occur in dreams. These cannot be permitted by the conscious primary social agent, the ego, and so these things are relegated to the unconscious, and are so relegated unconsciously (i.e. you don't know when you repress something, otherwise it wouldn't be repression).

    The second agency is merely another form of imagination that permits the subject to visualize his or her repressed associations.
     
  7. Vimana

    Vimana Member

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    But the frontal lobe does both conscious thought and inhibition. That's why I don't think there's a "second agency." The same part of the brain that allows us to consciously analyze things is the same part that inhibits our own desires from becoming conscious or from becoming actions. I don't know if this was understood in his time, though.
     
  8. Zephyrus

    Zephyrus Tyrants and Slaves

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    I enjoyed Civilization and its Discontents. I once wrote a paper on how his model of human psychological development can be mapped onto the rise and fall of human civilizations.
     
  9. Vimana

    Vimana Member

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    I just checked it out and it oddly lines up with my hivemind hypothesis. I think that the humans that excelled in sexual selection in civilization had greater extremes of these characteristics:

    1. Being outgoing (willing to approach unfamiliar people and form friendships).
    2. Desire to please others. I think this is where idolization and immortalization come from.
    3. Abidance to the wishes of others or laws.
    4. Fear of disapproval of the social group.
    5. An extreme, generalized group instinct (which I call the hivemind).
    6. Deriving one's identity and knowledge from their social group rather than their own experiences.

    The Hivemind is the generalized conception of "everyone" that we form. I think everyone develops it to different degrees, but those whose genetic lineage has been in civilization longer are more likely to have it overpower their own desires.
     
  10. Einherjar86

    Einherjar86 Active Member

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    I don't think Freud would equate a subject with the parts of his or her brain; the subject is an emergent phenomenon.

    Freud's schemas in which he attempts to locate the ego, id, etc. shouldn't be read as literal maps of the brain. They operate more figuratively. The frontal lobe might be shown today to control conscious thought and inhibition, but I don't think that precludes the possibility of a "second agency" (itself a figurative term).

    Repression is also not the same as inhibitions; we can recognize and identify the latter, but not the former. Repression, condensation, transference, overdetermination... none of Freud's terms can be located to specific areas of the brain. They're phenomena that emerge out of brain activity.
     
  11. Vimana

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    Oh, I think I get it. I was thinking of it as different functions of a machine, and he was separating the functions into their own "agencies."
     
  12. Einherjar86

    Einherjar86 Active Member

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    I don't think the functions are agencies, but I think the logical consequences of these functions is a multiplicity of agencies that constitute subjectivity (i.e. the subject is always split).
     
  13. Dak

    Dak mentat

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    The most glaring problem with Freud is not necessarily any particular idea, but that his ideas are informed almost exclusively by case studies, which were selected from an extremely limited slice of one particular culture. To be more concise: His methodology was incredibly flawed.
     
  14. Vimana

    Vimana Member

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    I think the most glaring problem is that he overcomplicates things. Normally in identifying psychological processes, you come up with a model that accounts for a range of different functions. Freud tries to expand different models to different functions or make new ones entirely. There's a case where a patient of his has a husband who likes plump women, her husband decides to stop going to dinner parties so he can lose weight, and the woman has a friend skinnier than her that says she would like to get fatter and that the patient should throw a dinner party. The patient has a dream where she is having a dinner party but does not have enough food and the stores are closed because it is Sunday. Freud's initial explanation is that the woman is subconsciously afraid that the other woman is trying to steal her husband and hopes that she will be unable to have a dinner party. Then he changes his mind and comes up with a whacky, overcomplicated explanation that makes no sense.

    I guess an area I differ from him is that I see this subconscious "second agency" as only a latent, heuristic form of the conscious mind. I think consciousness is only really an extended function of the emotional and logical processes that animal minds normally operate under. In other words, it's a quicker, more lucid, more nuanced form of the subconscious processes.
     
  15. Dak

    Dak mentat

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    If we understand consciousness as an executive program (think CEO), to suggest that the subject is split because the consciousness never has 100% control or awareness of everything is merely a misconstrual for dubious purposes.

    Freud had the hypothesis that sex explained everything - inspired and fed by his culture and cases. He then insisted on mental gymnastics to force this explanation wherever possible. He was simply practicing extremely bad science. If he happens to have intuited some correct idea(s) along the way, this is nothing more than broken clock syndrome.
     
  16. Einherjar86

    Einherjar86 Active Member

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    Well, here's the crux of research. You either do "close readings" and forego a widespread statistical analysis; or you do widespread analysis and forego mitigating details.

    The opposite argument would be that widespread analysis might give you a broad empirical conclusion across large quantities of the population; but the ability to prove that your conclusion supports your claim becomes more difficult because other mitigating factors might be determining the conclusion in your group. That is, the lack of close analysis means that there is more room for a variety of external causes operating on your test group.

    Freud was interested in studying single subjects closely - and among them (i.e. bourgeois upper/upper-middle class) he detected similar phenomena.

    Well, I don't know if I agree with this; but okay then. If anything, I think that consciousness tends to inhibit non-conscious biological processes.

    I also find it funny that you think Freud complicates things. His conclusions are complex, but I think they're necessarily complex.
     
  17. Dak

    Dak mentat

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    He detected similar phenomena based on his bias confirmation within an extremely limited slice of a limited slice.

    His primary source were extremely well off Victorian women who didn't mind going to see a shrink. Given that the Victorian period was supposedly very sexually repressive, I'll just allow that sexual repression was present. But that doesn't mean it can necessarily be connected to anything else, nor can it be extrapolated wider. I'm not discounting intuition as completely useless, but Freud was content to reside entirely within the echo chamber of his own mind. Ironically very similar in this respect to Ayn Rand.
     
  18. Vimana

    Vimana Member

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    Based on what I could read before stopping, he seems to want to make conclusions more complex in order to congratulate himself intellectually. He spends a ridiculous amount of time trying to justify himself, rather than just presenting the data and his theory. When two people present him with dreams that conflict with his idea that dreams are wish fulfillments, rather than inquiring deeper into their lives, he simply asserts that they had the dreams because they wanted him to be wrong. One of those people happened to be a classmate of his, and he said that the classmate could have been harboring jealousy for years for Freud being at the top of the class. He doesn't consider the possibility that there may have not been jealousy in the first place and that even if there was, it could have been dealt with already.

    Edit:
    We're not always conscious of our own conscious or subconscious processes. That doesn't mean it's another process altogether, just the same process without the fact of it happening never getting around to being conscious. For example, when someone experiences a traumatic event, they'll consciously block it out. Afterwards, they won't remember it, but that doesn't mean something other than their ordinary consciousness blocked it out, just that because it was blocked out, they're not aware of it.
     
  19. Einherjar86

    Einherjar86 Active Member

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    First: that's incorrect (and the comparison to Rand is unjustified).

    Second: so what if he did operate within his own mind? He was brilliant.

    I'm not really sure I follow. Freud is, in fact, one of the few writers I've ever read who reconsiders his earlier work and admits when he was wrong. He does this in Beyond the Pleasure Principle and other texts. He's one of the most self-consciously skeptical writers.

    And I disagree that traumatic experiences are "consciously" blocked out.
     
  20. Dak

    Dak mentat

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    What is incorrect? And how is a comparison to Rand unjustified? They both created personal echo chambers to support their problematic theories and viciously attacked anyone who graced their circle who refused to toe the line entirely.
     

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