QUOTES VI

Quotations about
CONSCIOUSNESS, PERSONALITY and THE SELF
- i.e. about the main distinctions concerning
the involvement of consciousness in personality and identity

SOME KINDS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL STUDY CAN BE UNDERTAKEN WITHOUT ANY REFERENCE TO WHETHER WHAT IS BEING STUDIED INVOLVES CONSCIOUS EXPERIENCE. FOR EXAMPLE, TEST SCORES CAN BE FACTOR-ANALYSED TO DETECT DIMENSIONS THAT THE INVESTIGATOR MAY TREAT ONLY AS DIMENSIONS OF SELF-REPORTED BEHAVIOURAL PROPENSITY; OR TWINS' SIMILARITIES CAN BE COMPARED TO ASK WHETHER A TRAIT SEEMS HERITABLE. YET AT SOME POINT IT COMES TO SEEM PECULIAR TO TRY TO DO PSYCHOLOGY WITHOUT ASKING WHAT THE SUBJECTS ARE THINKING (COGNITION), FEELING (EMOTION) AND INTENDING (CONATION)-I.E. ABOUT THEIR CONSCIOUSNESS. IN PARTICULAR, IT MAY SEEM UNLIKELY THAT ANY SATISFYING 'MODEL OF PERSONALITY' COULD EVER BE BUILT THAT AVOIDS ALL TALK OF CONSCIOUS PROCESSES. [UNCONSCIOUS PROCESSES ARE CONSIDERED IN QUOTES XVIII.]

T
his Section of Quotes is concerned with distinctions between the various types and levels of mental activity that are commonly envisaged (or, in some cases perhaps, grudgingly admitted) by today's psychologists and allied co-workers. In particular, the Section considers:
(A) a little history;
(B) the nature of consciousness;

(C) the importance of consciousness (as distinct from various types of
subconscious goings on); and
(D) the unity of consciousness (which might seem threatened by the
fashionable, much-on-the-increase phenomenon of 'multiple personality disorder').
Thus the Section is not concerned so much with 'personality differences' as conventionally considered as with the underlying 'psychology' (for want of a better word) to which appeal may have to be made in efforts to understand final 'surface' (including psychometric) manifestations of personality (and personality disorder).
(A) A little history. During the heyday of behaviourism, many academic psychologists abjured reference to consciousness and intentionality. Their idea was to try, as far as possible, to couch explanations of behaviour in largely 'mechanistic' terms. For many behaviourists, as for materialists, consciousness was 'epiphenomenal'-just the escaping steam as iron laws sped the railway engine along its steely path. Moreover, far from meeting united opposition, behaviourist unwillingness to ascribe any major role to consciousness, actually had a parallel in early psychoanalysis. For Freud and Jung and their immediate followers stressed the importance for each of us of deep, unknown and unknowable goings-on that were sometimes outwith, and partly inexplicable in terms of, consciousness. {Quotes XVIII is concerned with psychoanalytic ideas.}
By 1965 or so, however, experimental psychologists were once more working with concepts of 'attention' and '(cortical) arousal' in their tool-kits; and psychoanalysis had softened to admit conscious ego processes at least to equality with the darker, unconscious processes of Freud's id and superego. Mainstream differential psychology followed these two broad trends. Extraversion was repeatedly investigated for possible links to (under-)arousal (as envisaged by Hans Eysenck); and there was more theoretical interest in the essential nature and adaptive importance of intelligence than there had been since the 1920's (see Quotes IX, XI). In particular it became increasingly popular to interpret personality dimensions (as found in questionnaires and ratings) in terms of underlying differences in how attention and cortical arousal were maintained, controlled, modulated and directed (see Introduction to Quotes III). Indeed, a fashionable idea in the study of personality over recent years has been that people do not differ so much in intelligence and abilities ('reason') or in motivations, needs and impulses ('the passions') as they do in the final strategies and styles worked out at the interface of Reason and Passion as ways of expressing, harnessing and integrating these mighty forces in each individual person. (In a dramatic extension of this line of explanation, modern cognitive psychology views virtually all psychological explanation as bound to be of the 'strategic' type.)
(B) The nature of consciousness Today, people are admitted by academic psychologists to differ in whether they 'are aroused', 'like being aroused', 'perform well under arousal' and 'can control their own arousal' (whether directly or via environmental selection). Yet there are still some enormous questions. What are consciousness, self-consciousness, 'arousal', awareness, and alertness? How can I be simultaneously aware of the immediate physical world, of myself in that world, of the presence of other minds, and of material and mental events that are even now taking place at some distance from me? Is consciousness divisible-and indeed divided? - If so, is 'the self' therefore radically divided? - Just in some pathological personalities arising from the grotesqueries of child abuse, or in all of us? Do we need consciousness? - Why? How many different levels and types of consciousness (and 'subconsciousness') should be distinguished?
What relation obtains between conscious and unconscious mental processes (if, indeed, 'unconscious mental processes' are a coherent possibility)?
It should be plain that large questions like these are nothing less than questions about how the human mind 'works'-the question from which psychologists often prefer to seek refuge in the study of psychometry, psychogenetics, the rat, the robot, the brain, the baby, illusions, ideologies and so on. To indicate particular lines of approach to these questions is the business of this section of quotations. But perhaps a few general, prefatory remarks may be helpful.
(C) How important is consciousness? This is clearly one broad issue on which theorists will divide to some extent. As such human functions as perception, movement and chess-playing come to be mimicked by robots, quite practical questions will increasingly arise about whether automata could never succeed at a wide range of human functions unless somehow programmed with consciousness. And what about ourselves? Do we need consciousness-or could we, with a little help from our friends, live out our lives quite contentedly as sleepwalkers? (Of course, some may aver that automata already 'have' consciousness-or should be said to have it-perhaps in the same way that we try to dignify and humanize young children ('I know you wanted to be a good boy'). Yet others may think that some human beings lead lives so unreflective and irresponsible as to be only rather minimally distinguishable from sleep-walkers in any case.)
The issue here can be put in terms of the distinction between 'knowing how' and 'knowing that'. I can 'know how' to ride my bike, type, swim or upset my mother with little conspicuous help from consciousness: many human skills are automatized, whether instinctively or by non-conscious learning and conditioning. By contrast, to 'know that' London is dirtier than Paris or that it is my wife's birthday is to know something that can be mulled over and reasoned about in a fairly articulate way: such knowledge is part of a net of memories which will include information (however general) as to what justification I have for these ideas. 'Knowing how' is typically non-verbal and largely subconscious; by contrast, 'knowing that' is verbal and conscious (or 'preconscious', i.e. readily summoned into consciousness).
Since 'knowing how' can evidently do much useful work for a person, there arises an interesting subsidiary question. If one could 'subconsciously' sleep-walk through life, might one conceivably choose to do it? Could a very anxious or unhappy-but, say, quite successful-person be advised to choose such an option if it were available? Would it be better to sleepwalk for half-a-life than to die and have one's estate disposed of according to one's current will? Perhaps consciousness is quite a small part of me, but which part is it? Is it some keystone or linchpin without which the rest of my mental activity is pointless and even dangerous? Or could I actually manage without it?
Here are some 'models', i.e. analogues of consciousness that may help clarify what would be involved in such choices.
1. Conscious sometimes seems to be the boss-cf. the chief executive of a firm whose members (and their occasional failures to anticipate events) can (i) alert the boss and (ii) find themselves coming occasionally under over-riding conscious control.
2. Consciousness sometimes seems to provide the front page of a mental newspaper-rather than expressing editorial policy or steadily covering long-running stories.
3. Consciousness is sometimes likened to a light that illuminates the environment -in the more or less immediate vicinity. (It may do so more or less selectively; yet it will always reveal something of its own existence-cf. the phenomenon of self- consciousness.)
4. Consciousness has sometimes been compared to a (curved) mirror that can 'contain' an image of itself. (In modern terminology, the conscious mind is sometimes said to be 'a model that contains a model of itself'.)
5. Consciousness may be likened to the radar/radio/telegraph room of an oil tanker: it is the ship's long-distance eyes and ears and is the place in the ship where the world's realities are first sieved from the patterns of incoming signals-for all that it is on the bridge of the ship that the decisions are made, and for all that there is much more to being an oil tanker than having a radar room.
6. Whatever is the best analogy for consciousness in relation to the rest of personality, psychology will long have a place for the idea that consciousness functions in relation to memory as something of a librarian -perhaps in a small Department of a University that serves and responds to students and staff possessing a range of needs, abilities and interests.... The important point of this analogy is that there is a singular link between consciousness and long-term memory for 'knowledge that...' Just as few books find their way on to library shelves without having been processed by the librarian-and if any do, they are hard to locate by normal search procedures-so is my 'memory that [my boyfriend once seemed to like Handel]' dependent on the information having been consciously processed by me in the first place. The librarian can fail to shelve books-as happens in anterograde amnesia (for events occurring in the days after a head injury); or she may spill a recently compiled card index-as seems to happen in retrograde amnesia (for events that occurred before the date of a head-injury); or she can show us a book that has newly arrived and yet is never indexed-as when we hear what a person is currently observing or thinking (in 'short-term memory') but find subsequently they did not themselves keep a copy; but anything successfully found in the library by normal search processes will have been indexed by her {or him}. When we accept that a person 'remembers that [Ireland won 17 - 3]', or that 'Cambridge won in 1986 and 1993' we accept that the person was conscious at the time of first processing ('entering') this information (whether at first- or second-hand).
Not all our learning is conscious in this way. The librarian and her functions seem akin to short-term memory and the library to what Freud first called the pre-conscious mind-to distinguish it from the unconscious. The point made by this analogy is that at any given time we all house, in our ('preconscious') library, information and memories that can be quite easily retrieved as need arises; and, as they are used, the librarian may be aware of the fact. These memories (books) are readily available and leave indications of their use (perhaps by electronic tagging) even if consciousness (the librarian) is not likely to be much concerned with any one of them at any one particular time.
Yet such processes do not exhaust what might happen in libraries. First, a librarian may take over or otherwise find herself in charge of a library in which the catalogue (perhaps a new catalogue, still in the course of preparation) provided far from perfect access to the books. In such a library, books (memories) may be readily available to certain regular library users, but not at all so accessible to the librarian. A book may be in constant use by a reader who (accidentally or deliberately) re-shelves it incorrectly. Occasionally, the book's continued existence may come to seem likely to the librarian. All such processes are the processes of the subconscious-i.e. what goes on in the mind in ways not reliably accessed by consciousness.
To complicate matters further, a library may contain secret documents, or collections of documents that cannot be inspected by everyone because of their age or their titles or authors, or because they are in a special code (cf. microfiche) for compactness of storage. Perhaps collected in a locked room to which the librarian herself has no key, such secrets provide an analogy for the unconscious-viz. those memories that do not surface accidentally and which are protected from both systematic and random search processes. - Like many collections of 'classified' documents, much of such material may be extremely boring. Perhaps the library houses as 'secret' anything written in a foreign language-'just in case', as it were, or so as to reduce the workload on the librarian. Such documents-especially those in microfiche-might be akin to the automatic processes of the cerebellum which maintain our posture and balance without our having any access at all to anything but the gross product of what has been learned; again, we have no conscious access to how we produce grammatical sentences. Some 'secrets', however, may be of considerable importance. Indeed, some may concern how yet other books and documents in the library have been tampered with or withdrawn so as to distort the library's apparent record of the truth-perhaps in ways with which the librarian would concur, yet nevertheless it may be easier for her to function as a librarian (and deny the existence of secrets) if she does not actually know too much about what the secret books contain, or how to access them. At this point we are clearly into the territory not just of deep unconscious material that can virtually never be retrieved, but of positively 'bottom-of-the-harbour' depth material that has been consigned to secrecy by design and in order to mislead. Still, even such hypothetical processes of what amounts to self-deception may not be quite 'dynamic' enough to capture what Freud thought of as the on-going battle of the Freudian unconscious {see Quotes XVIII}: to capture this we maybe need to envisage a fight going on in the storeroom housing secrets-perhaps, as it were, two members of academic staff in the Department in question, the outcome determining whether truth emerges or whether suppression is maintained.
Hopefully enough has been said to indicate some of the broad lines of theoretical division as to how important consciousness may or may not be to the normal functioning of personality. Yet it would not be right to leave the issue without mentioning the centrality of time and temporal awareness to the phenomena of consciousness and its close (and arguably inseparable) relative, self-consciousness. Perhaps the most straightforward type of 'knowledge that....' and 'memory that....' is event-memory in which books in the library are all marked and indexed for the order in which they arrived, allowing an account of the library's own growth and development, and reconstruction of the pressures under which it found itself at any one time, and what 'answers' (cf. new books) were supplied. It is the marking of personal events in time [perhaps by the brain's mammillary bodies] that allows a dimension to experience which seems likely (with the help of linguistic descriptors) to be unique to human beings: in particular, the recorded experience of one's own activities through time arguably opens up a whole new data-set on which human intelligence can work to examine and re-examine the record for what it shows of quite abstract features of the actor and how they have been rewarded through time. Obviously we have access to material that allows rational decision-making about how our own styles and strategies (and indeed personalities) might occasionally profit from re-balancing or reconstruction.
(D) Is consciousness unitary? An interesting feature of a Department library through time is that it retains a lot of continuity despite considerable turnover of both staff and students. Perhaps a person is similar-showing quite a lot of continuity through the different changing demands over time from motivational impulses and from considerations at any one time of what seems a reasonable response. But what about changes of librarian? And what if the staff appoint a new librarian but can't sack the old one? Here we come, via the 'library' analogy to the vexed question of whether 'multiple personality' is:
(i) impossible-merely a novelty invented by therapists eager to write best-sellers;
(ii) a rare clinical condition, yet one that does occur, as when a person faces such enduring horrors as physical and sexual abuse during childhood;
(iii) a common condition in so far as we all have two hemispheres with their own specializations-yet not readily noticeable since the hemispheres are essentially similar, rather like identical twins, each serving chiefly as a back-up to the other in the event of system failure (usually temporary) in one hemisphere;
(iv) a universal condition, in that each of us can be represented as a "society of the mind" with several different competing, yet still evolving stories of what is going on. This might occur rather as different political parties offer their own 'histories' of their own societies, which thus find themselves working in different grooves of historical thinking from time to time, depending on which party is in power.
Quite independently of the distinctions between conscious and subconscious processes, there might be different 'selves' and 'identities', just as a University Department may have different 'sides' and 'factions' and 'groups'-any of which, over some one period of time, may manage to monopolize the attention of the librarian. Alternatively, processes of identity-recreation (as between the hemispheres), versatility of librarianship (consciousness) and clear crystallized rules of procedure (cf. crystallized intelligence) may serve to maintain an essential integrity of largely undivided personhood. {For an account of research by a leading expert, see Putnam (1985) Medical Aspects of Sexuality 19, or Putnam (1986) in J.M.Quen, Split Minds / Split Brains. For consideration of modern 'hemispherology', see Quotes XIX.}

Introductory reflections


"Such is the nature of spirit, or that which acts, that it cannot be of itself perceived, but only by the effects which it produceth.... ....besides all [the] endless variety of [our] ideas or objects of knowledge, there is likewise something which knows or perceives them; and exercises diverse operations, [such] as willing, imagining, remembering, about them. This perceiving, active being is what I call MIND, SPIRIT, SOUL or MYSELF."
George BERKELEY, 1710,
A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge.

"Kant emphasized what he called the synthetic unity of apperception. By this he meant that the unity of the self (the self that is gotten by this superimposed awareness) is made, not automatically given. The unity of the self is stitched together out of the series of momentary glimpses of self-awareness, which also explains why the self can become unravelled."
Roy F. BAUMEISTER, 1986, Identity. Oxford Univ. Press.

"....[Gautier's bisexual heroine], Mademoiselle de Maupin had scarcely begun to make her way in the world when the movement she authorized was subjected to an equally powerful attack. Within six years, Soren Kierkegaard published his Either/Or, in which he anatomized 'aesthetic man'. Unlike ethical man, aesthetic man is so caught up with a succession of moods, to each of which he surrenders wholly, that he loses touch with the personality he wished to express. For fear of losing the mood, he cannot afford to reflect, nor can he attempt to be more than what he for that mood-moment is. He moves from sensation to sensation...."
Richard ELLMAN, 1987, Oscar Wilde. London : Hamish Hamilton.

"[Psychologists should use their self-knowledge to recall] some devastating conflict of desires, some moral struggle hardly won, some intense pain, some base temptation, some impulse of profound pity or of tender devotion, of fierce anger or horrible fear. Is there not something radically wrong with a system of thought {i.e. behaviourism} which tells us that these experiences are of no account in the world?"
W.McDOUGALL, 1923, An Outline of Psychology. London : Methuen.

"For a couple of centuries or so, the psychological and neurological sciences have advanced in a fairly satisfactory fashion without undue concern with the nature of consciousness. Although few scientists (or even philosophers) ventured to deny the existence of consciousness (in humans at least), no role for the phenomenon could be found in any causal chain of explanation. The "ghost in the machine" seemed singularly impotent and hence rapidly came to be regarded as an epiphenomenon, associated with the working of the brain but not itself a part of the mechanism. As always, it was William James who phrased the dominant metaphor most perfectly (while himself remaining agnostic as to its validity): "So the melody floats from the harpstring, but neither checks nor quickens its vibrations; so the shadow runs alongside the pedestrian, but in no way influences his steps."
John C. MARSHALL, 1992, Times Literary Supplement, 4 ix.

"It was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to the consciousness." Eugene WIGNER, 1967, Symmetries and Reflections. Bloomington : Indiana University Press.

"At every moment of our lives, when we are conscious, there is a way in which things are for us, a certain way in which things other than ourselves are for ourselves, are presented to us, and in which we ourselves are presented to ourselves. This is one's consciousness, one's total state of consciousness, as it is at that moment. To know what someone's total state of consciousness was at a particular would be to know just what it was like being him at that moment. To be conscious over a given period of time is to live through a series of momentary such states of consciousness. {Thomas Nagel and I have suggested} that an individual is conscious at a certain time if there is an answer to the question what it was like being him, her or it at that time.... on the ordinary assumption that rocks are not sentient, there is nothing at all which is what it is like being a rock...."
The various streams of consciousness that flow on within the total world process are what matters most about the whole affair, either because really they are the whole affair, as idealists maintain, or because they are all that matters.... value can only attach to what occurs as an ingredient within [streams of consciousness].... at the end of time....the total truth about the filling of every stream of consciousness which has occurred will determine the total truth as to how worthwhile the whole thing has been."
T.L.S.SPRIGGE, c. 1981, 'The importance of subjectivity'. Inquiry 25.

"....persons are not, as we mistakenly believe, fundamental.... the content of our experiences provides no evidence whatsoever of a separately existing subject of experiences."
D.PARFIT, 1984, Reasons and Persons. Oxford University Press.

"The West has long been habituated to....analytic dismantling of being. From Plato, through Descartes to Freud, we find a division between appetite, reason and mind; or we hear of the ghost in the machine; or of id, ego, and superego; or of conscious and subconscious; or of conscious, unconscious and preconscious; or of
the cognitive, the conative and the affective, etc. But the dismantling that the Buddha (a century before Plato) proposes is infinitely more refined than the crude divisions into two or three elements imagined by Westerners. Even when Hume says, much as a Buddhist would, that 'the mind is only a bundle or collection of different perceptions' linked by causalities, he only grasps one out of the six skandhas.... Buddhism regards [the integrated personality] as the cause of all ills. In order to remedy it, it shatters the man (the illusion of man in man's eyes) and is only too glad to leave him in pieces.... It is the illusion of the 'I in itself', both based upon and providing the basis for desires and attachments, which Buddhists hold to be the specific cause common to all sufferings. Critical examination of the 'self' enables one to show that an individual contains no entity of this sort."
Serge-Christophe KOLM, 1986, in J.Elster, The Multiple Self.
Cambridge University Press.

"[Handel's spirituality is essentially human, rooted in an experience of the world and linked with an awareness of individuals in relation to one another.... he invites us to look at ourselves as we are, noble and preposterous, dignified and vile, to understand the complexities of our nature and what it is truly capable of."
Jonathan KEATES, 1986, Handel: the Man and his Music.
London : Hamish Hamilton.

"A manifest gap in the Eysenckian school of thought, and one which has sometimes made it distasteful to others, is its lack of concern with those aspects of the psychology of Man-feelings, ideas, motives and other experiential data-which many believe to be the essence of 'personality'."
G.CLARIDGE, 1986, in S. & Celia Modgil, Hans Eysenck:
Consensus and Controversy
. Brighton : Falmer.

"The central concerns of [psychoanalytic] patients nowadays are not so much the conflicts between their instincts and society but the cohesion of their selves."
M.SKINNER, 1987, British Journal of Psychology 78.
{Reviewing K.Yardley & T.Honess, Self and Identity.}

"....although it was not tonight that Violet would kill herself, she was nearer to the edge than Gideon surmised.... She hated all the plump, glittering, giggling people she saw on television. Even solitary drinking, which now occupied more of her time, was not a relief, more like a method of suicide. A sense of the unreality, the sheer artificiality of individual existence had begun to possess her. What was it after all to be 'a person', able to speak, to remember, to have purposes, to inhibit screams? What was this weird, unclean, ever-present body, of which she was always seeing parts? Why did not her 'personality' simply cease to be continuous and disintegrate into a cloud of ghosts, blown about by the wind?"
Iris Murdoch, 1988, The Book and the Brotherhood.
London : Chatto & Windus.

"All too rarely do I find colleagues who will assent to the proposition (which I find irresistible) that the very ground-rules of science, its concern only for public knowledge, preclude its finding an explanation for my consciousness, the one phenomenon of which I am absolutely certain. Mostly they admit indeed that it will be a tough job, but like to believe that in due course the relationship of consciousness to brain activity will be made clear, and the ghost in the machine exorcised."
Sir Brian PIPPARD, 1992, reviewing B.Appleyard, Understanding the
Present: Science and the Soul of Modern Man. Nature 357
, 7 v.





(i) Conscious, Subconscious and Unconscious processes
{See also Quotes XVIII re the Freudian Unconscious}


The problem of consciousness-for psychologists

"Let anyone try to cut a thought across the middle and get a look at its section, and he will see how difficult the introspective observation....is. The rush of the thought is always so headlong that it almost always brings us up at the conclusion before we can arrest it. [Introspective analysis] is in fact like seizing a spinning top to catch its motion, or trying to turn up the gas quickly enough to see how the darkness looks."
William JAMES, 1890, Principles of Psychology. New York : Dover, 1950.

"The subject matter of psychology is the whole manifoldness of qualitative contents presented to our experience."
Wilhelm WUNDT, 1911, Einführung in die Psychologie.
London : Allen & Unwin (translation), 1912.

"The Watsonian type of behaviourism is merely a mechanistically motivated attempt to turn psychology into objectively scientific channels by the simple expedient of eliminating whatever type of subject matter the behaviourists feel themselves incapable of describing. That the phenomenon eliminated chanced to be consciousness is unfortunate for "behaviourism", not for psychology."
William MARSTON, 1928, Emotions of Normal People. London : Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co. (Internat. Library of Psychology, Philosophy and Scientific Method.)

"I conclude that the concept of consciousness in the sense of an irreducible relation of awareness is a concept that we can neither exclude nor exchange if, as psychologists, we are to give an adequate account of life and behaviour."
Sir Cyril BURT, 1962, 'The concept of consciousness'.
British Journal of Psychology 53.

"The demarcation between what is accessible and what is inaccessible to consciousness is related to the difference between knowing that something is the case and knowing how to do something (Ryle, 1949)."
P.N.JOHNSON-LAIRD, 1983, Mental Models. Cambridge University Press.

"....no philosopher and hardly any novelist has ever managed to explain what that weird stuff, human consciousness, is really made of. Body, external objects, darty memories, warm fantasies, other minds, guilt, fear, hesitation, lies, glees, doles, breath-taking pains, a thousand things which words can only fumble at, co-exist, many fused together in a single unit of consciousness. How human responsibility is possible at all could well puzzle an extra- galactic student of this weird method of proceeding through time. How can such a thing be tinkered with and improved, how can one change the quality of consciousness? Around 'will' it flows like water round a stone." 'Bradley Pearson', the narrator in Iris Murdoch's
The Black Prince. London : Chatto & Windus, 1973.

"[Psychology] is not the science of consciousness only, but of behavior in general....of conduct. [Psychology begins] when the organism behaves with regard to external situations and solves problems."
Jean PIAGET, 1980, in J-C.Brinquier, Conversations with Piaget.
Chicago : University of Chicago Press.

"Consciousness is like the Trinity: if it is explained so that you understand it, it hasn't been explained correctly."
R.J.JOYNT, 1981, Behavioural & Brain Sciences 4.

"Anyone who believes that inquisitions went out with the triumph of secularism over religion has not paid attention to the records of foundations, federal research agencies, professional societies, and academic institutes and departments.... Macromutationists in biology, catastrophists in geology, and cognitive theorists in psychology are among those who have known inquisitions in science."
Robert NISBET, 1982, Prejudices. London : Harvard University Press.

"As the software of the computer stands to its hardware, so the mind stands to the brain. Only one major problem remains for this doctrine, but it is unfortunately the most central and the most puzzling of all the phenomena of mental life-consciousness."
P.N.JOHNSON-LAIRD, 1983, Mental Models. Cambridge Univ. Press.

"What reason could a mere materialist have to suppose that the little agitation of the brain called thought (as Hume put it) could get hold of the ruling principle of the universe? A certain pragmatic skill at avoiding fires and precipices might be conceded, but it would surely be very surprising that natural selection could pick out something with an assured route to real knowledge. There is no discoverable theory to explain just why certain wave-lengths...."produce" in us (or bats or dolphins) the experience of "seeing scarlet". Indeed, there seems no link at all between any overt, selectable feature and the existence of subjective consciousness."
S.R.L.CLARKE, 1986, Times Literary Supplement, 26 ix.

"Neglect of the primacy of conscious experience has indeed blighted most attempts to see man in purely material terms. (The materialist position is remotely plausible only when the materialist is talking about people other than himself." D.M.MACKAY, 1986, Nature 323, 23 x.

"[At one time] the very idea of unconscious mentality seemed incomprehensible; now we are losing our grip on the very idea of conscious mentality."
D.DENNETT, 1987, in R.L.Gregory, The Oxford Companion to the Mind. Oxford University Press.

"To all save the direst sceptic, Weiskrantz's positive conclusions about the existence and nature of a 'second visual system' - non- striate and "based on different cells of origin and different terminals, and with a different function" - will seem alive and well. That the system has no (or very limited) access to conscious awareness reminds us (as does the current literature on amnesias) that 'consciousness', anathema to the behaviourists, is not dead and will certainly not lie down."
J.C.MARSHALL, 1987, Nature 325, 12 ii.

"....although I continue to use scientific truth to formulate a higher-resolution picture of the knowable Universe, I still find myself groping at 5,000-year-old untestable models. Instead of Adam and Eve, my creation myth begins in a 'primordial soup' with 'self-replicating molecules'. My struggle with the mystery of human consciousness uses terms such as `mind\brain problem' and `immanence illusion' rather than `soul' or `God'."
A.TRAVIS, 1989, Nature 341 (Correspondence), 7 ix.

"As recently as a few years ago, if one raised the subject of consciousness in cognitive science discussions, it was generally regarded as a form of bad taste, and graduate students, who are always attuned to the social mores of their disciplines, would roll their eyes at the ceiling and assume expressions of mild disgust."
John R. SEARLE, 1990, Behavioral & Brain Sciences 13.

"....there is a sense in which consciousness has to be created afresh every time another conscious subject comes on the scene. Here consciousness differs significantly from matter and life. When a new material object is created there is a continuity of matter linking the new with the old: the causal processes that produce the new object basically involve the rearrangement of prior material. Matter does not have to be created all over again each time a new mountain is formed or a tree grows; it flows from one thing to another. One Big Bang was enough to stock up the universe with all the matter it needed; we do not have to posit lots of Little Bangs to account for freshly minted physical objects. It is much the same with life: new organisms are continuous with earlier ones....
Yet, one wants to insist, consciousness cannot really be miraculous, some kind of divine parlour trick. Its relation to matter must be intelligible, principled, law-governed. Naturalism about consciousness is not merely an option. It is a condition of understanding. It is a condition of existence. The only question is how to set about being a naturalist about consciousness-what form the naturalism should take."
Colin McGINN, 1991, The Problem of Consciousness.
Oxford : Blackwell.

"How does the brain generate conscious experience? Twenty years ago, most scientists thought this a question for the philosophers; and most philosophers regarded it as a symptom of some kind (though what kind never became clear) of deep linguistic confusion....[Today] what is needed is a new theory."
Jeffrey A. GRAY, 1992, 'Consciousness on the scientific agenda'.
Nature 358, 23 viii.



Attempts to understand or 'model' consciousness
{See also Quotes XIII re Cognitive Psychology.}

"We can see that the mind is at every stage a theatre of simultaneous possibilities. Consciousness consists in the comparison of these with each other, the selection of some, and the suppression of others, of the rest, by the reinforcing and inhibiting agency of attention. The highest and most celebrated mental products are filtered from the data chosen by the faculty below that - which mass was in turn sifted from a still larger amount of simpler material, and so on."
William JAMES, 1890.

"....there are ten easily observable objective changes in human behaviour appearing simultaneously with the reported increase of consciousness, namely:
1. Longer period between application of the physical stimulus and appearance of the bodily response.
2. Persistence of bodily responses after the physical stimulus has been removed.
3. Less correspondence between the temporal rhythm or intervals manifest in the reaction, and the time intervals at which the environmental stimulus is received.
4. Less correspondence between the intensity of the final bodily response and the intensity of the stimulus.
5. Increased tendency for several stimuli, each too weak to arouse the response by itself, to add themselves together and jointly evoke the reaction toward which they tend.
6. Greater fatiguability.
7. Greater likelihood that the same reactions will occur, at different times, in response to stimuli of different intensity.
8. Increased tendency to be inhibited by stimuli of comparatively slight intensity.
9. Increased tendency to combine with, or to conflict with, simultaneously imposed responses.
10. Increased susceptibility to the influence of drugs."
William Moulton MARSTON, 1928, Emotions of Normal People.
London : Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co.

"According to the 1929 Encyclopaedia Britannica, one theory of consciousness holds it to be inherent in every atom of the body. Another suggested it was produced by special nerve cells in the brain; a third that it came in units called psychonic impulses, generated when two nerves were in communication." Marek KOHN, 1992, New Statesman & Society, 15 v.
(Reviewing N.Humphrey, A History of Mind.)

"Although most authors mean self-awareness when they write of consciousness, it may be wisest to keep self out of the definition at the start. I believe that the place of self is less fundamental than the problem of simple awareness, which is the problem of how we know and represent reality. [My view is that]....awareness is an almost arbitrary construction of the brain; its role in the work of the brain is as a model....constructed at a particular hierarchical level of the brain's work to "explain" the otherwise overwhelming amount of information in ongoing neural activity.... For each of us the model is reality, the real world of everyday experience, although there has long been a philosophical appreciation that there is a problem in validating our knowledge of reality, a recognition of its constructed nature. Consciousness is thus a description of one level of activity of a very large, hierarchically organized information-processing system."
H.J.JERISON, 1982, 'The evolution of biological intelligence'. In R.J.Sternberg, A Handbook of Human Intelligence. Cambridge Univ. Press.

"A primal form of consciousness may originally have emerged from the web of parallel processors as a way of over-riding deadlocks and other pathological interactions [between processors]."
P.N.JOHNSON-LAIRD, 1983, Mental Models. Cambridge University Press.

"[The first section of P.E.Morris & P.J.Hampson, Imagery and Consciousness] presents Morris's boss-employee model of consciousness.... there are sure to be some experimentalists who will fall gagging to the ground on first encountering the boss- employee model.... My feeling, however, is that there are certain issues....that demand this broad-brush theoretical treatment because the control processes associated with them transcend the narrow limits of laboratory-defined cognitive domains.... To criticise it on the grounds that it is descriptive rather than predictive would be like complaining that a sieve doesn't hold water."
J.T.REASON, 1984, British Journal of Psychology.

"Consciousness is the "front page" of the mind. In this loose analogy, the mind is organized like a newspaper: what is most important that day is on the front page. The most important events are immediate crises, such as a breakdown in transportation, or a battle, or new and unexpected situations that require action, such as a flood or death."
R.E.ORNSTEIN, 1985, Psychology: the Study of Human Experience.
San Diego : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

"....what would it be like to be conscious of something without being aware of this consciousness? It would mean having an experience with no awareness of its occurrence. This would be, precisely, a case of unconscious experience. It appears, then, that being conscious is identical with being self-conscious. Consciousness is self-consciousness.... [Consciousness] is like a source of light which, in addition to illuminating whatever other things fall within its scope, renders itself visible as well."
Harry G. FRANKFURT, 1988, Philosophical Essays. Cambridge Univ. Press.

"It is an open question whether there is such a thing as consciousness." C.A.MALCOLM (Research Fellow in Artificial Intelligence, University of Edinburgh), 1988, addressing the E.U. Department of Psychology.

"....conscious thinking seems-much of it-to be a variety of a particularly efficient and private talking to oneself."
Daniel C. DENNETT, 1988, Times Literary Supplement, 16-22 ix.

"The known functional properties of consciousness are not those of an efficient control system. Rather, the experience of conscious awareness seems to be the subjective concomitant of representational processes, perhaps biologically rooted in the ability to orient towards new and unexpected stimuli, and more strongly related to perception, cognition and memory than to action. Further, there is evidence that consciousness does not have any direct access to the motor apparatus: i.e. we are not consciously aware of what we are doing except through sensory feedback."
O.NEUMANN, 1988, addressing 24th International
Congress of Psychology in Sydney (S202).

"[Philip Johnson-Laird, The Computer and the Mind] identifies consciousness with the mind's central processor. This makes sense since presumably all voluntary decisions are determined by the central processor, and they are taken voluntarily. Nevertheless, it leaves unsolved the problem of the evolution of consciousness: since if, as Johnson-Laird argues, the brain is a computer, presumably the central processor would perform just as well without consciousness."
Stuart SUTHERLAND, 1988, Times Higher Educational Supplement, 22 vii.

"If we take the view that consciousness depends upon the mental models [of reality] being constructed at any one time, [the consciousness of people who have had 'near-to-death' experiences-floating above their own bodies, entering a tunnel towards a light, etc.] has been transformed. Even when they come back to normal and the "real" world resumes its dominance, they cannot forget that for a time other worlds of imagination seemed real; that the body was trivial, and that for some time there was even no self at all. It is a direct peek into the constructed nature of self and the world. They can never seem so solid or important again."
Susan BLACKMORE, 1988, New Scientist 118, 5 v.

"Michael Lockwood (Mind, Brain and Quantum) begins by dismissing the doctrine of functionalism-the idea that conscious states are to be thought of as brain states classified in terms of their causal relations with one another and with the external world.... one could conceive of entities having states with the same functional relationships as those of mental states, but lacking conscious experience, or having conscious experiences totally different from our own. [Lockwood] adopts a form of identity theory-which is that consciousness is the same thing under another guise as certain brain states."
Stuart SUTHERLAND, 1990, Nature 343, 1 ii.

"The heart of Edelman's theory [of consciousness] is a series of arguments concerning how connections among neurons allow neuronal groups to integrate and cross-correlate their processes-what Edelman calls "re-entrant" connections among neuronal groups." E.S.REED, 1990, Nature 343, 15 ii. (Reviewing G.Edelman, The Remembered Present: A Biological Theory of Consciousness.)

"Conjecture: People who discuss consciousness delude themselves in thinking that they know what they are talking about. I don't claim there is nothing they are talking about. Rather, it is not just one thing, but many different things muddled together. That colloquial language uses one noun is no more evidence for a unique reference than the multifarious uses of the word "energy" (intellectual energy, music with energy, high energy explosion, etc.)."
Aaron SLOMAN, 1991, 'Developing concepts of consciousness'.
Behavioral & Brain Sciences 14.

"The dissection of human experience into reflex arcs-as opposed to circles or spirals - ipso facto murders consciousness.... human experience is a continuous stream, not a concatenation of distinct reflex arcs."
J.S.REZNICK & P.D.ZELAZO, 1991, Behavioral & Brain Sciences 14.

"Shallice (1972, Psychol. Review 79)....identified the functions of consciousness as setting and storing goals and selecting from amongst competing action patterns (usually to achieve the goal). I would add that consciousness is a representational 'workshop' that supports activities such as decision making, imagination, planning, problem solving, hypothesis testing, the novel use of habitual routines, and writing this commentary."
Raymond KLEIN, 1991, commenting on M.Velmans,
'Consciousness'. Behavioral & Brain Sciences 14.

"Consciousness sets the goals. This assumption is implicit in current motor control thinking; and, if we carry it one step further, then consciousness is the boss. The relationship between consciousness and the C.N.S. is analogous to that between a king and his subjects. Although the king is ignorant of, and indeed inept at the detailed operation of his realm, he sets the policies societies have found an expression of their unity.... The stumbling block for science is the nature of the physical link between consciousness and the neuronal processors. I believe that Penrose (1989, The Emperor's New Mind) is right to insist that physical theory is currently inadequate for the job. A fundamental addition to the pantheon of physical forces or properties of matter is essential to an understanding of the relationship between living cells and conscious phenomena."
William A. MACKAY (Dept. Physiology; Univ. Toronto), 1991,
Behavioral & Brain Sciences 14.

"....the unique function of consciousness as pure subjective awareness may be to fix a particular experience in terms of its psychological quality.... childhood amnesia may be understood as the result of an unstable and slowly maturing capacity for consciousness to perform this quality-fixing function."
H.SHEVRIN, 1991, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 14.

"We have proposed that awareness is associated with phase-locked, oscillatory firing behavior in the 35-65-Hz frequency range as observed by Gray et al. (1989, Nature) in the visual cortex of the cat."
Christof KOCH & Francis CRICK, 1991, Behav. & Brain Sciences 14.

"[According to Daniel Dennett's 'multiple drafts theory', in his Consciousness Explained, Allen Lane, 1992] the illusion of a single "stream of consciousness" is created by the 'virtual machine' run by the parallel processor that is our brain. Our consciousness, our mind, is, as it were, a virtual "Joycean" machine. Note, the "Joycean" stream of consciousness is virtual, it is not actual. There is no single stream of consciousness; there are, as can be seen from the neuroscientific evidence, many streams of consciousness."
Ray MONK, 1992, 'The philosophers' mind'. The Independent, 3 iv.

"For N.K.Humphrey (1992, A History of the Mind), "consciousness is uniquely the having of sensations".... in "higher animals", "sensory reverberating feedback loops" [emerge] within the brain. It is only in this last stage [of evolution] that consciousness arises. Humphrey's account is phrased with such an alarming lack of precision and detail that it is impossible to assess whether it constitutes a "theory" of anything, let alone consciousness.... G.Edelman's (1992) Bright Air, Brilliant Fire takes a similar approach....[speculating] that primary consciousness arises from "re-entrant loops" that interconnect "perceptual categorization" and "value-laden" memory. Such loops no doubt exist, but why they should give rise to conscious experience remains as opaque as ever. The claim that "primary consciousness helps to abstract and organise complex changes in an environment involving multiple parallel signals" is pure hand-waving."
John C. MARSHALL, 1992, Times Literary Supplement, 4 ix.

"The heart of [Daniel Dennett's new view of mind and consciousness] is the systematic exploitation of emergent properties, so that a disunified ongoing assembly of subagents that coalesce around a center of narrative can give rise to a "me" and thus cover the entire ground from animal sensorimotor behavior to humanlike mental experience.... [Dennett's 'self'] is much like the British Empire, not compressible into a single dot is space-time, yet capable of engendering behavior as a discernible agent."
F.J.VARELA, 1993, American Journal of Psychology 106, reviewing D.Dennett, Consciousness Explained, Boston, Little Brown.

"An awake brain reacts most strongly to a series of clicks if they are at the rate of 40 per second whereas an anaesthetised brain responds most strongly to a slower rate of clicks."
Aisling IRWIN, 1994, Times Higher Educational Supplement, 7 x.

"Why do I say that our present scientific picture is not adequate to accommodate the phenomenon of human (or animal) consciousness?.... My argument has three strands: the first comes from mathematics {viz. Gödel's theorem}.... ....there is more to neurons than their behaving just as switches. They are complicated cells having substructures of immense sophistication. An important part of this substructure is the cell's network of microtubules, which strongly influences the interconnections of neurons.... [microtubules] appear to act a bit like computers, sending complicated messages along the tubes.... Although we are still far from knowing the physical and biological framework responsible for our consciousness and consequent intelligence, we should not be deterred from continuing to search for one."
Roger PENROSE, 1994, Times Higher Educational Supplement, 14 x.

"....seven core properties of consciousness are singled out by Paul Churchland (1995, The Engine of Reason, MIT): short term memory, independence of sensory input, steerable attention, alternative interpretations of capability, absence of sleep, presence in dreaming and unity of experience."
S.HARNAD, 1995, Nature 378, 30 xi.







"....[Michael Arbib] acknowledges that his brain science cannot explain why some things look red and other things look blue, let alone why there are conscious experiences at all; but he seems to regard these matters as trivial [problems for a theory claiming mind/brain identity]. A more reasonable conclusion would be that if Arbib's brain science cannot explain why experience is the way it is or why we have experiences at all, there is a lot more to the mind that Arbib's brain science can explain, even if he does not wish to explain it."
R.SWINBURNE, 1987, Philosophy 62.









Altered states of consciousness

"[I theorized] that persons known to be addicted to different substances and activities....experience, while indulging, a common dissociative-like state (i.e. a state of altered identity) that differentiates them from non-addicts [partaking] in the same activities or substances.... Items held to reflect dissociative- like experiences were:
feeling like you were in a trance;
feeling like you had taken on another identity;
feeling like you were outside yourself-watching yourself; and
having a memory blackout.
Each of the addict groups (compulsive gamblers, alcoholics and compulsive overeaters) reported significantly higher frequencies (p<.01) for having these reactions."
D.F.JACOBS, 1988, to 24th International Congress
of Psychology, in Sydney (F 272).




Findings from hypnosis


"[E.Hilgard, 1979] hypnotized subjects so that they would report pain only through writing. The writing was automatized so that it would not require conscious attention, and the subject was given a suggestion of analgesia, making him unaware of any pain. The subject's hand was then immersed in cold water to produce pain. At the conscious level, the analgesia was effective: highly hypnotizable subjects reported no pain. The interesting finding was that the automatic writing estimates of the magnitude of pain outside of the subject's awareness steadily increased as the hand remained immersed, which is precisely the pattern that occurs without hypnotic analgesia.... while conscious experience of pain may be eliminated with hypnosis, unconscious affect can persist."
Drew WESTEN, 1985, Self and Society. Cambridge University Press.

"In one study, Hilgard hypnotized a man and gave him the suggestion that he would become completely deaf at the count of three. He then banged two wooden blocks next to the man's ear. The man did not react to the sound. Hilgard said to the man, "Although you are hypnotically deaf, perhaps some part of you is hearing my voice and processing this information. If there is, I should like the index finger of your right hand to rise as a sign that this is the case." To Hilgard's amazement, the finger rose!"
R.E.ORNSTEIN, 1985, Psychology. San Diego : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

"In the case reported here [of amnesia in a 27-year-old white male of normal intelligence], the patient was confronted with a severe traumatic experience. [He had been the victim of anal rape at gun point while under the influence of marijuana.] [This] produced intense psychological pain and conflict.... During the initial hypnosis session, he was able to recall various past memories, as well as his first name and nickname. He was unable, however, to link the memories together, view them from the context of his identity, or recognize recalled "scenes" as being within his own past experience. Rather, memories were like photographs of events.... [This] case illustrates how personally relevant information, such as knowledge of one's name, occupation, or family members, can serve as a "control element" (D.L.Schacter et al., 1982, Neuropsychologia) of episodic memory. [Once the patient was inveigled into recalling his own name under hypnosis, his episodic memory - including for his being raped - came flooding back.]"
A.W.KASZNIAK et al., 1988, Journal of Abnormal Psychology 97.



"....hypnotic procedures were associated with increased confidence in memory reports; in particular, high-hypnotizable subjects, tested in the hypnotic condition, displayed the most confident errors."
K.M.M.CONKEY & S.KINOSHITA, 1988, Journal of Abnormal Psychology 97.





(ii) The limits of consciousness


"Our mind is so fortunately equipped that it brings us the most important bases for our thoughts without our having the least knowledge of this work of elaboration. Only the results of it become conscious. This unconscious mind is for us like an unknown being who creates and produces for us, and finally throws the ripe fruits in our lap."
Wilhelm WUNDT, quoted by Hans Eysenck, The Decline and Fall
of the Freudian Empire
. Washington : Scott Townsend.

"....thinking is merely a relation of ....drives [desires, passions] to each other...."
NIETZSCHE, 1866, Beyond Good and Evil.

"I never think, and yet when I begin to talk I say the things I have found out in my mind without thinking."
'Federico' in Ernest Hemingway's (1929) A Call to Arms.

"....this is what always happens when I am in the early stages of work on a problem. Until the problem has gone a long way towards being solved, I do not know what it is; all I am conscious of is the vague perturbation of mind, this sense of being worried about I cannot say what."
R.G.COLLINGWOOD, 1931, An Autobiography. Oxford University Press.

"In attempting to answer the question, 'Why do we have to be conscious?' it surely cannot be claimed as self-evident that consciousness is a necessary requisite for such performances as logical argument or reasoning, or even for initiative and creative activities."
John ECCLES, 1964, in J.Eccles Brain and Conscious Experience.
Berlin & New York : Springer.

"....we are often capable of describing intermediate results of a series of mental operations in such a way as to promote the feeling that we are describing the operations themselves.... ....the only mystery is why people are so poor at telling the difference between private facts that can be known with near certainty and mental processes to which there may be no access at all."
R.E.NISBETT & T.D.WILSON, 1977, Psychological Review 84.

"There are many phenomena that suggest that certain lower-level processors retain considerable autonomy [from consciousness]. Love, hate, laughter and tears, for instance, may be consciously feigned, but they cannot be genuinely invoked by a deliberate decision."
P.N.JOHNSON-LAIRD, 1983, Mental Models. Cambridge Univ. Press.

"When a person asks me where I would like to go for dinner tonight, I do not consciously run through a list of every restaurant in town and experience an affect related to it.... An extraordinary number of stimuli (including thoughts as well as perceptions) impinge upon the individual every second, far exceeding the capacity of conscious processing. Does it take too great a leap of imagination to suggest, given the affective implications of many of these stimuli, that affective processing-which may influence behaviour-can occur outside of consciousness as well?"
Drew WESTEN, 1985, Self and Society. Cambridge University Press.

"Human everyday information-processing involves the constant use of complex and totally non-conscious cognitive algorithms. This is true not only with regard to elementary processes like meaning analysis or pattern recognition.... It also applies to complex processes such as creative thinking or problem solving." P.LEWIKI, 1986, Non-conscious Social Information Processing. London : Academic Press.

"....the evolutionary liabilities of self-consciousness are probably more obvious than its advantages. The main price of consciousness is the certainty of death, which is of no conceivable adaptive value. Indeed, it constitutes such a crippling psychic burden that many of our cultural superstructures are devoted to the denial of death."
Pierre L. van den BERGHE, 1987.

"Conscious volition is an island in a sea of non-conscious determinants of behaviour."
L.J.KIRMAYER, 1987, Behavioural & Brain Sciences 10.

"[L.R.Squire, Memory and Brain] documents well the surprising dissociations between failure of explicit recall and the preservation of skill learning and tacit memory that are such a striking feature of amnesia. The basic mystery is that these patients behave as if they have learnt from experience yet have no conscious recollection of the experience from which they have veritably learnt...."
J.C.MARSHALL, 1987, Nature 328, 20 viii.

"Freud claimed that his theories and clinical observations gave him the authority to overrule the sincere denials of his patients about what was going on in their minds. Similarly, the cognitive psychologist marshals experimental evidence, models and theories to show that people are engaged in surprisingly sophisticated reasoning processes of which they can give no introspective account at all."
Daniel C. DENNETT, 1987, 'Consciousness'. In R.Gregory, The
Oxford Companion to the Mind
. Oxford University Press.

"....Larry Weiskrantz....has shown that certain lesions render people blind-that is, they have no conscious awareness of seeing-but they can still unconsciously use vision to perform certain tasks."
Stuart SUTHERLAND, 1988, Times Higher Educational Supplement, 15 iv.

"It is only recently that the distinction has been recognised between a capacity and a subject's commentary upon it. However, there are now a number of examples of disabling cases of brain damage in which there is, nevertheless, good evidence of residual function, but the subject appears to have no awareness of the capacity. [Relevant evidence] comes from] lesions of the visual cortex ('blindsight') and from implicit memory processing in the amnesic syndrome."
L.WEISKRANTZ, 1988, to 24th Internat. Congress Psychol. (S498).

"Even when you're asleep you're in tune with your submarine."
Royal Navy submarine captain, on the experience of being
'on patrol' for ten weeks. BBC IV UK, 2 xii 1988.

"Consciousness is a pitiful hostage of its flesh-envelope, whose surges, circuits, and secret murmurings it cannot stay or speed."
Camille PAGLIA, 1990, Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson. Yale University Press.

"[Goodale et al.'s young female visually agnosic patient, 'D.F.'] when asked to reach out for objects that she could neither identify nor tell apart, adjusted her hand position appropriately for accurate grasping.... [She] demonstrates that not all complex computations involved in the neural representation of shape, size and orientation are accessible to conscious judgments of these object qualities. It is as if conscious awareness operated on a need-to-know basis, and that many neural events, such as those governing prehension, can occur without awareness in parallel with others of a similar nature that lead to conscious awareness."
Alan COWEY, 1991, 'Grasping the essentials', Nature 349.

"Viewed from a third-person perspective, consciousness does not enhance adaptive functioning."
Max VELMANS, 1991, Behavioural & Brain Sciences 14.

"Sooner or later psychology is going to admit that Gilbert Ryle got a thing or two right. One of those things is that "consciousness" is a botched concept.... Basically, Velmans [arguably an epiphenomenalist] seems to want to send the defendant ["consciousness"] to a psychiatric institution where he can live a confined but parallel life away from the rest of society; I, however, am opting in favour of the death penalty.... automaticity theory once posited that the properties of resource use, obligatory versus optional execution, speed, and unconscious awareness would all hang together. However, these components, most notably "conscious awareness", have not converged in any theoretically coherent way."
Keith E. STANOVICH, 1991, Behavioural & Brain Sciences 14.

"Post-traumatic stress disorders and the "hidden observer" in hypnosis suggest that one can have sensations without being reflexively aware of having such sensations."
M.VELMANS, 1992, The Psychologist 5, vii.





Reassertions of the importance of consciousness

"Your subconscious is like a computer-more complex a computer than men can build-and its main function is the integration of your ideas. Who programs it? Your conscious mind. If you default, if you don't reach any firm convictions, your subconscious is programmed by chance-and you deliver yourself into the power of ideas you do not know you have accepted. But, one way or the other, your computer gives you print-outs, daily and hourly, in the form of emotions-which are lightning-like estimates of the things around you, calculated according to your values. If you programmed your computer by conscious thinking, you know the nature of your values and emotions. If you didn't, you don't."
Ayn RAND, 1974, Philosophy: Who Needs It. New York : Macmillan.

"In [Velmans' (1991, Behav. & Brain Sci.) section on "preconscious analysis of complex messages"] the most "complex" and "novel" non- conscious message to be considered is a single sentence:
"The forest ranger did not permit us to enter the reserve
without a permit."
This is not exactly Proust.... If Velmans wants to show that conscious processing is really just non-conscious processing in disguising, then he must look much more carefully at the cognitive role that consciousness appears to play at the upper end of the spectrum."
Bruce MANGAN, 1991, commenting on M.Velmans, 'Consciousness'.
Behavioural & Brain Sciences 14.

"The entire nervous system is designed to eliminate predictability from consideration. Consciousness itself might be considered as that organ which specializes in the analysis of unpredictable events."
Jordan B. PETERSON, 1994, Ph.D. Thesis : Harvard Dept. Psychology.






(iii) Individual differences in the workings of consciousness?


"Rather than delegate input (and feedback) to sub-systems, the (stable) introvert seems all too easily imploded with information: the results are distractibility, discomfiture at high levels of stimulation, inflexibility of response to rewards for specialised behaviour, and understandable attempts to reduce stimulation to manageable proportions.
In contrast, the problem for the anxious, (high-n) subject is that the 'boss' insists on being executively involved in every activity that is undertaken-with the result that stop-go policies are pursued, that there is much pressure on and interference with sub- routines, and that it is hard for such a person to do two things at the same time. While the introvert is merely bureaucratic-trying to keep good records at the expense of involvement and activity-the neurotic is positively dirigiste and insists that every activity should reflect the firm's plan and use the firm's resources."
C.R.BRAND, 1983, Behaviour Research & Therapy 21.
(Reviewing H.J.Eysenck (ed.), A Model for Personality.)

"....'the hidden observer' [which {remarkably} responds to consciously unexperienced pain, inflicted under hypnosis] is typically obtained in only about 50% of the subjects tested, despite the fact that they have all been pre-selected on the basis of their very high level of response to other hypnotic suggestions.... The surprise of many subjects on discovering that they had [their own] hidden observer, and the disappointment of others when they failed to find one, are inconsistent with an account based solely on strategic social compliance."
J.F.KIHLSTROM, 1984, in K.S.Bowers & D.Meichenbaum,
The Unconscious Reconsidered. New York : Wiley DePublisher.




(iv) Consciousness in animals


"We have demonstrated that a pigeon can use a mirror to locate an object on its body which it cannot see directly. We should not attribute this, however, to a pigeon's "self-awareness" or claim that the pigeon has a "self-concept". We believe that such constructs impede the search for the controlling variables of the behaviour they are said to produce."
R.EPSTEIN, R.P.LANZA & B.F.SKINNER, 1981, Science 212.

"The idea of awareness or consciousness becomes necessary when sequences of dots or other fairly elementary events (edges, lines, surfaces) are organized to become "objects" in "space" and "time". To the extent that "squeaks" and their "echoes" become "insects in flight" or "edibles in motion" for bats, these small mammals are aware, or conscious, in our terms (Griffin, 1976)."
H.J.JERISON, 1982, 'The evolution of biological intelligence'. In R.J.Sternberg, A Handbook of Human Intelligence. Cambridge Univ. Press.

"There are....three main levels in the phylogeny of automata. At the first level, there are the Cartesian machines, which make no use of symbolism either internally or externally. They act without awareness. At the second level, there are the Craikian automata, which construct symbolic models of the world in real time. They are aware in the way in which young babies and other animals are aware. They may also communicate using a semantics that relates external symbolic responses to their models of the world. Finally, at the third level, there are devices that have the recursive ability to embed models within models, that possess a model of their own operating system, and that can apply the one to the other. They are self-reflective automata that can act and communicate intentionally. They are indeed autonomous though they contain no entelechy or mysterious teleological force.... Whether such conditions suffice for consciousness remains an open question, if only because the term is a pre-theoretical one that at present has no clear meaning."
P.N.JOHNSON-LAIRD, 1983, Mental Models. Cambridge University Press.

"[Karen Pryor and colleagues in Hawaii] trained a captive rough-toothed dolphin named Hou to perform a wide variety of complicated manoeuvres in his tank to obtain a reward of food. First, the animal was fed only after performing one particular type of display, such as an aerial backflip ("walking" partly out of the water by vigorous co-ordinated motions of its tail) or slapping its tail while swimming at the surface on its back. Then food was withheld unless the dolphin did something new, something different from any of the tricks he had displayed before. It took Hou some time to realize what was expected of him, but after several weeks he began to invent some new form of aquatic or aerial gymnastics each day to get his food. Hou had evidently formed the concept of "newness" or "something I've not done before"."
Donald R. GRIFFIN, 1984, Animal Thinking. Harvard Univ. Press.

"....the following is one of the longer utterances reported for the gorilla Koko: "Please milk please me like drink apple bottle"; and from Nim, "Give orange me give eat orange give me eat orange give me you". But grammatical or not, there is no doubt what Koko and Nim were asking for. To quote Descartes and Chomsky...., "The word is the sole sign and certain mark of the presence of thought." Grammar adds economy, refinement, and scope to human language, but words are basic. Words without grammar are adequate though limited, but there is no grammar without words. And it is clear that Washoe and her successors use the equivalent of words to convey simple thoughts."
Donald R. GRIFFIN, 1984, Animal Thinking. Harvard Univ. Press.
|
"A whole sentence never came from half a man."
Karl KRAUS.

"Are barnacles self-aware?.... A serious argument has been made that they are."
Sarah E. HAMPSON, 1988, Personality & Individual Differences 9.

"[Daniel Dennett] talks of a "tower" of increasingly impressive brain design. At the lowest level are "Darwinian creatures with no choice in their course of action...." [But] "thinking" is not a pre-requisite for consciousness to be at full throttle."
Susan GREENFIELD, 1996, 'Towering inference.'
Times Higher, 11 x.







"Human consciousness involves an integration of time, an awareness not merely of the present but of the past and the future, a grasp of enduring features that lie behind the passing moment. This is what even intelligent animals like chimpanzees appear to lack...."
L.S.HEARNSHAW, 1987, The Shaping of Modern Psychology.
London : Routledge & Kegan Paul.





(v) Multiple selves?
{See also Quotes XIX, re 'hemispherology'.}


Some relatively sympathetic accounts

"Two souls, alas, do dwell within his breast;
The one is ever parting from the other."
GOETHE, Faust, Part I.
|
"Faust complained that he had two souls in his breast. I have a whole squabbling crowd. It goes on as in a republic."
BISMARCK.

"Arthur Wigan, whose Duality of Mind was published in 1844....suffered (like George Eliot) in his earlier years from the experience of an inner voice arguing with himself. This, and the experience of being "in two minds" about things, suggested to him that the healthy mind was an amalgam of two independent minds, whose individual identities are only revealed occasionally, as with hallucinations, ideas of possession, double personality and [his] obsessional experience."
J.PRICE, 1988, Biology & Society 5.

"On January 17th, 1887, [the Reverend Ansel] Bourne withdrew 551 dollars from his bank in Providence, Rhode Island, boarded a Pawtucket horse-car, and disappeared. On the morning of March 14th, in Norristown, Pennsylvania, a man named A.J.Brown, who a few weeks earlier had opened a small general store there, woke up in a fright, calling out to know where he was. He knew that he was Ansel Bourne, and had no memory of being 'Brown' or indeed of anything since the events of 17th January. Under hypnosis [William] James [whose subsequent write-up brought 'fugue states' to public attention] recovered the Brown personality, who in turn recalled all the events of that period, but nothing pertaining to Bourne."
John RADFORD, 1988, Psychology News 2, No. 5.

"I am certain that I have had three separate and distinct souls....
The wise contradict themselves."
Oscar WILDE, cited by R.Ellman, 1987,
Oscar Wilde. London : Hamish Hamilton.

"A man has as many social selves as there are individuals who recognize him."
William JAMES, 1892.

"Like many people possessed of great self-control, {Alfred Whitehead} suffered from impulses which were scarcely sane."
Bertrand RUSSELL, writing of his philosophical colleague,
1967, Autobiography: 1872-1914. London : Allen & Unwin.

"....philosophers such as Pascal, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Wittgenstein tend to write in aphorisms, notes, or fragments, as if the effort to express themselves coherently cannot withstand their powerful contrary impulses, but comes to more natural expression in spasmodic writing that resembles a dialogue of perpetually warring selves....
[At around age ten, Jean-Paul Sartre] talked to himself a great deal and felt that he had two voices, one of which, hardly belonging to him, dictated to the other what to say. He decided he was double and was annoyed and frightened, though his mother was not alarmed when he said to her, 'It talks in my head.'"
B-A.SCHARFSTEIN, 1980, The Philosophers. Oxford : Blackwell.

"[R.J.Lifton, The Nazi Doctors, examines] traits or mental processes common to all of the Nazi doctors, and names two: "doubling" and "numbing". These imply that the typical Nazi doctor appeared as a normal, warm-hearted person with his family, children and friends, but that he had numbed feelings towards Jews in the camp and had a valueless, scientific and technological view of the realities of Auschwitz."
B.MULLER-HILL, 1986, Nature 323, 23 x.

"Two personalities jostled for primacy within [Anthony Eden, UK Prime Minister c. 1956], the measured diplomat and the "bloody prima donna". The result was [often] paralysis.... [But at the time of the Suez crisis] it was his [own] decision to switch from near-diplomatic settlement with Egypt on 14th October to the fatal collusion with Mollet and Ben Gurion the next day."
K.O.MORGAN, 1987, New Society 82, p.31.

"I cannot remember a time when I did not take it as understood that everybody has at least two, if not twenty-two, sides to him."
'Dunstan Ramsay', the central character in Robertson Davies'
Fifth Business. Toronto : Macmillan, 1970.

"There is a momentum to violent revolution. I came to a conclusion after my experiences that a human being is very complicated, with many unpleasant hidden things. When the circumstances are right, they come out. In the Cultural Revolution, there was a state of hysteria. Nice people became animals."
Mme Nien Ching (who was imprisoned in the People's Republic
of China, in solitary confinement, 1966-1973). Interviewed
by Caroline Moorehead, The Times, 24 vii 1986.

"[Hirst, Spelke and Neisser, 1978, Human Nature 1] enlisted two students....as subjects to see if people could read and write simultaneously. They read short stories while copying down a list of words that was rapidly being dictated to them.... after six weeks of training, they could perform both tasks easily and well.... These studies indicate that division in consciousness may be greater than we have assumed.... Probably all of us experience some splits in consciousness at one time or another. Have you never felt "out of it" and just snapped back, with no recollection of time, as if you had just lost a half hour? When such splits become extreme or a permanent condition, a multiple personality may result." R.E.ORNSTEIN, 1985, Psychology: the Study of Human Experience. San Diego : Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich.

"Persons are like nations, not Cartesian egos."
D.PARFIT, 1984, Reasons and Persons. Oxford Univ. Press.

"[Doctor Jekyll] was partly right: we are each not only one but also many.... We spend a lot of time and ingenuity on developing ways of organizing the inner crowd, securing consent among it, and arranging for it to act as a whole. Literature shows that the condition is not rare. Others, of course, obviously do not feel like this at all, hear such descriptions with amazement, and are inclined to regard those who give them as dotty."
Mary MIDGLEY, 1984, Wickedness: A Philosophical Essay. London : Ark.

"The existence of multiple personality disorder suggests that metaconscious self-determination can influence the development of personality and I.Q.... Meta-programming is very difficult."
Hilary ROBERTS, 1984, 'Grow your own personalities'. New Scientist, No. 1395.

"[Changing the Subject: Psychology, Social Regulation and Subjectivity can be a most important book for many fields of psychology. At the centre lies the contribution to the theorization of subjectivity. This challenges us with its elaboration of a subject who is multiple, not purely rational, and potentially contradictory. The unitary subject is deconstructed and replaced by a relation of interiority between subject and social practice."
P.STRINGER, 1985, British Journal of Psychology 76.

"We've all got composite personalities."
Auberon Waugh, 1985, interviewed by M.Murphy, Sunday Tribune, 27 x.

"When I'm on stage, I become a different personality. Even if you're feeling depressed, you have seven minutes when you can forget your troubles and be someone else. If I'm in an erotic mood, I do a very erotic number.... Sometimes, though, your own personality reappears and you get a fright. Once, in the finale, when I was just wearing a few ruffles, my real personality returned for some reason and I thought, 'God, all these people are watching and I haven't got anything on.' It was a terrific shock. I just blanked out. That's what happens." 'Linda' (described as one of Britain's top 'tease maids'), interviewed in News of the World, 3 viii 1986.

"It was the bad in me, it was the animal in me that wanted to kill her."
Statement attributed by the prosecution to a medical
practitioner of British nationality, charged with murdering
his first wife and with attempting to murder his second.
The Times, 10 xii 1986.

"Mind is a bad idea."
R.ORNSTEIN, 1986, in a lecture to Edinburgh University
Psychology Department, entitled 'Multimind'.

"[R.Swinburne, The Evolution of the Soul] would "explain" the problem generated by the behaviour of "split-brain" patients as "the problem of discovering the number of souls connected to a given brain."
D.M.MACKAY, 1986, Nature 323, 23 x.

"In developing his ideas, J.Redfern [1986, Myself, My Many Selves] adopts the term sub-personalities' to describe parts of the self as manifested in images or patterns of behaviour. These may be split off or repressed parts, i.e. complexes, or plastic and adaptive parts resulting from the introjection of 'good' parental figures. They may be collective and archetypal, or personal and individual.... Any of the sub-personalities can take over from the 'I' as being in control of the personality. Sub-personalities are not restricted, furthermore, to personifications of the psyche, but can be inanimate objects. Redfearn also asserts his own belief that sub-personalities can actually materialize outside the psyche in such forms as poltergeists or even in the invention of the jet engine."
Louis ZINKIN, 1987, Journal of Analytical Psychology 32.

"[My husband, Kenneth Tynan] was full of contradictions. There isn't one thing you could say about him without saying the opposite."
Mrs Kathleen Tynan, 1987, BBC Radio IV (UK), 19 ix.

"Sylvia Fraser [in her book My Father's House]....describes how, at the age of seven, the unendurable guilt and revulsion of incest caused her to split into two personalities. "Another little girl" was created to do the shameful things for which her father threatened and bribed her, while her outwardly normal self forgot all previous and subsequent sexual abuse."
Jane O'GRADY, 1989, Sunday Times (Books), 26 ii.

"'The crow of Villeau' has been silenced.... a 62-year-old Sunday school teacher sits in Orleans prison awaiting trial on charges of 'premeditated violence'. [She] is charged with waging an eight- year poison pen campaign in Villeau which set neighbour against neighbour, driving some into depression and others to the point of divorce. [She confessed when arrested, but] there are those who refuse to believe that such a "kindly woman" could have given vent to such venom. Among them is Father Rimé, who claims the letters were "the work of the devil". That will be up to a court to decide."
Christine TOOMEY, 1989, Sunday Times, 11 vi.

"John Cannan [sentenced to life imprisonment for a series of "monstrous crimes" against women, including murder and rape] wore two different faces for the string of women who, either willingly or in mortal dread, entered his life. The first was that of the charmer, a self-proclaimed romantic who went courting with champagne, chocolates and a winning smile. In the fifteen months before the murder of Mrs Shirley Banks, he boasted to police, he had "a hundred one-night stands".
His other face was evil: that of a violent, unpredictable man only too ready to use terrified victims to satisfy his perverted sexual appetite. [The trial judge said Cannan was highly intelligent but had an obsession with having sex by force.]
[While previously imprisoned for rape, he met a married woman,] a local solicitor with whom he was to have a lengthy affair. Cannan described [the woman], who is married to a barrister...., as "the biggest thing to happen in my life". However, he did not allow it to hamper his other sexual activities."
David SAPSTED, 1989, The Times, 29 iv.

"Multiple personality disorder (M.P.D.) [was] diagnosed with increasing frequency in the 1980's: according to one estimate, 6,000 cases have now been diagnosed in North America.... One of the most common presenting features consists of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts.... Our results show that 72% of the patients attempted suicide.... [Such parasuicidal M.P.D. patients] have experienced more physical abuse and rape than those who have not attempted suicide [and 86% of the 167 parasuicidal M.P.D. patients had been sexually abused].... [these] patients may hear voices arguing more often because these represent arguments between 'protector' and 'persecutor' personalities about whether to attempt suicide. The arguments are overheard by the host personality and experienced as a Schneiderian symptom."
C.A.ROSS & R.NORTON, 1989, Psychiatry 52.

"The patient, I.C., is a 24-year-old White woman who was brought to the emergency room of a general hospital....after exhibiting behaviour that was deemed to be dangerous to herself. She is an attractive woman, married, with a three-year-old daughter.... There is evidence of molestation by her father, [beginning] in adolescence. Various [of her] personalities have been identified, including:
"Heather", an adolescent who is attempting to destroy I.C.;
"Joan", a sexually active lesbian;
"Gloria", a drug abuser; and
"Alpha", a bodilesss personality who appears to be in executive control.
Although various personalities are aware of each other and aware of I.C., I.C. is aware only of the time lapses that occur when she dissociates.... What makes the I.C. case unique is that when she is functioning normally she is a world-class performer [in her chosen field] and has participated effectively on the international circuit. Her natural abilities are such that, even during extended hospitalizations, she has been able to remain among the best in her field.... I.C. was unable to recall a single episode from prior to ten years of age."
D.L.SCHACTER et al., 1989, Journal of Abnormal Psychology 98.

"The Hearing Voices Network, a group affiliated to the mental health charity Mind, has just held its fourth annual conference in Manchester.... Richie, an Irish Catholic, started by hearing laughing voices at the age of twelve. After two years, the laughing voices began to sound demonic. A doctor put him on lorazepam [a tranquillizer, but unsuccessfully].... "I started drinking heavily to drown out [the] voices" [which told him to slash his wrists].... Richie....discovered, after reading a book about male rape, that he had been sexually abused as a child.... With counselling and support, he came to terms with his voices.... Richie now works in the mental health movement, and is a member of the Brent Users' Group in London.... "I just tell [the voices] to fuck off now.""
Tim LINEHAN, 1993, 'Hearing is believing'. New Statesman, 26 iii.

"[Pakistan's political leader, Zulfi Bhutto] has many Bhuttos all wrestling inside him.....often projecting one persona and hiding another....he had no 'one-unit' psyche."
Stanley WOLPERT, 1993, Zulfi Bhutto of Pakistan: His Life and Times.
Oxford University Press.

"It was not sexual. One moment I was walking in her room and the next I was attacking her. I hit her with a knife. I don't know how many times. It was like I wasn't there. It was like someone else was doing it. I did to her what I should have been doing to myself. It got all tangled up. I do feel sorry for her and her family. Taking another human being's life is disgusting." Robin Pask, in court, admitting the manslaughter of an Open University lecturer. The Times, 20 vii 1993. {Pask was dealt with as unfit to plead by reason of insanity.}

"James Carlson has at least fifteen personalities, only one of which, he claims, is guilty of a series of rapes and burglaries in Arizona during 1990 and 1991..... His mental problems stem from his childhood when he was kidnapped and sexually assaulted, his lawyer said."
The Times, 6 i 1994, p.11.

"[An interesting feature of Moira Walker's Surviving Secrets: The Experience of Abuse for the Child, the Adult and the Helper] is the chapter on Multiple Personality Disorder which provides evocative interviews with individuals with MPD. It will be difficult to discount the disorder as a diagnostic category after reading these descriptions."
Janet FEIGENBAUM, 1995, Behaviour Research & Therapy 33.





Parallel (quite similar, even basically 'identical') 'selves'?
{See also Quotes XIX re the functions of the cerebral hemispheres.}

"[Brain asymmetry between the hemispheres] is especially appropriate if behaviour is to be internally generated [rather than] stimulus-bound."
M.C.CORBALLIS, 1980, American Psychologist 35l.

"The existence of a right hemisphere self-awareness system, albeit under suppression in intact brains, is....indicated by the fact that surgical removal of the dominant hemisphere, even in adults, produces remarkably little intellectual impairment. Although it may be accompanied by personality changes, it leaves the patient still able to give introspective reports of his everyday experiences and past history, as well as being able to comprehend language. The ability to produce speech, however, is limited."
D.A.OAKLEY and L.C.EAMES, 1985,
in D.A.Oakley, Brain and Mind. London : Methuen.

"[E.L.Bliss, Multiple Personality, Allied Disorders and Hypnosis, O.U.P.] puts forward an argument for the conceptualization of multiple personality as a form of self-hypnosis.... [used by patients] to cope with traumatic events by the assumption of a different persona, with amnesia for their normal persona."
O.HILL, 1986, British Journal of Psychiatry 149.

"Three tasks were presented to the personalities [of a 28-year-old woman suffering multiple personality and an apparent history of gross child abuse culminating in parasuicide]. The memory task and the perceptuo-motor task indicated that the three personalities shared information and that learning extended from one personality to the next. The attention task indicated that the three personalities were differentially processing the stimuli that were presented to them, as measured by the event- related potentials [which indicated different levels of 'positivity' and 'arousal' in the different personalities]."
Margaret DICK-BARNES et al., 1987,
Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry 18.





Reservations about 'multiple personality'

"....we agree....that it is not helpful to talk about the agent's different 'selves'; and with {the Scottish philosopher} Thomas Reid's blunt statement that 'A part of a person is a manifest absurdity.'.... It....seems best to refer to multiplicity with such terms as facets or aspects of the person, or the 'differing sides' of our nature, or even to refer to the agent considering a choice 'from different points of view', or making different partial judgments."
Ian STEEDMAN and Ulrich KRAUSE, 1986, in J.Elster,
The Multiple Self. Cambridge University Press.

"Much attention has been given to the phenomena of multiple personality, and the famous case of Sally Beauchamp, described by Morton Prince (1854-1929), has been succeeded by other well- publicized examples. There is reason to think that the subject's suggestibility and the amount of attention focused on the alleged change of personality to some extent perpetuate and elaborate the phenomena."
F.A.WHITLOCK, 1987, 'Hysteria'. In R.L.Gregory, The
Oxford Companion to the Mind
. Oxford University Press.

"[In C.Blakemore & Susan Greenfield, Mindwaves] Donald Mackay discusses the behaviour of people who have undergone surgical section of the brain (so-called "split-brain" patients). He concedes that the operation isolates two independent
(hemi-)spheres of mental activity, but none the less concludes that "the continued unity of the conscious person" remains intact. By contrast, Derek Parfit believes that such "unity" is suspect even prior to neurosurgical intervention. According to Parfit, each of us was never an ego in the first place. On this Buddhist account of the mind, "I" am just a bundle of mental events tied together by a brain, a body, and a language that has a first- person singular pronoun. Philosophical cognoscenti will recognize this idea as having more than a passing resemblance to Friedrich Nietzsche's view of God (before He died): something has to fill the subject position in such utterances as " -- created the universe." Of such observations is philosophy made."
John MARSHALL, 1987, Times Higher Educational Supplement, No. 784.

"In what sense does 'multiple personality' exist? [There is a] virtual absence of such patients anywhere except in the USA, and even there it is a relatively small group of psychologists and psychiatrists who report the alleged 'epidemic' of cases. 'Multiple personality syndrome' may be viewed as:
frank malingering,
an iatrogenic {treatment-caused} behaviour pattern,
a symptom of psychiatric disorder,
a self-handicapping strategy, or
a variant of culture-bound hysterical psychosis
occurring in highly suggestible individuals.
This author favours the latter alternative."
Ray ALDRIDGE-MORRIS, 1989,
Personality & Individual Differences 10 (Conference Abstract).

"We will not know whether the self is eternal or indivisible in our lifetimes, [and] split-brain symptoms provide no clear indication either way. If, as such eminences as Sir Karl Popper and the Nobel Laureate, Sir John Eccles, argue in The Self and Its Brain, our minds direct our brains from some yet-to-be-accounted- for source - by analogy, our brain is a TV set, the mind providing the programmes - these symptoms [involving the emergence of more than one 'personality'] may simply be an indication that the set, rather than the self, is malfunctioning."
Brian INGLIS, 1990, Irish Independent, 17 iii.
(Reviewing D.Zohar, The Quantum Self.)

"It is likely that Multiple Personality Disorder never occurs as a spontaneous, persistent, natural event in adults. The [score of] cases examined here have not shown any original conditions which are more autonomous than a fugue or a second identity promoted by overt fantasies or conscious awareness. The most that can be expected without iatrogenesis is that an overt inclination for another role could cause the adoption of different conscious patterns of life....Without reinforcement, such secondary changes would ordinarily be expected to vanish."
H.MERSKEY, 1992, 'The manufacture of personalities: the production of multiple personality disorder.' British Journal of Psychiatry 160, 327-340.

"Since the 19th century....the number of personalities per [MPD] patient has jumped from 2 or 3 to often more than 20 and sometimes into the hundreds. Early cases were marked by transitional periods of sleep and convulsions, which are uncommon today.... Changes of these kinds are difficult to deal with from a perspective that explains identity enactments as symptoms caused by past traumas rather than as expectancy-guided displays that change with new information concerning role demands."
N.P.SPANOS, 1994, 'Multiple identity enactments and multiple personality disorder: a socio-cognitive perspective.' Psychological Bulletin 116.

"The capacity for dissociation evidently develops in childhood as a normal process intrinsically associated with fantasy and imaginative ability (Putnam, 1991). Thus, young children commonly exhibit intense absorption in an activity, rapid attentional shifts, forgetfulness, and a capacity to take on another identity during play. Dissociative experiences in adolescence, however, tend to be transient and their incidence declines markedly between early adolescence and early adulthood.... ....[In adults enrolled in an off-campus introductory psychology course, median age 36, there were....] three predictors of [self-reported] dissociation, namely familial loss in childhood, intrafamilial sexual abuse, and extrafamilial sexual abuse.... ....The implications of the present results should not be overstated. The combination of all childhood trauma surveyed in the study still accounts for a minor proportion of the variance in dissociation scores."
H.J.IRWIN, 1994, Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases 182.

"The current growth industries engaged in the pathologising of human behaviour have diagnosed an alarming range of previously unknown syndromes: hyperkinesis, minimum brain dysfunction, attention deficit disorder, Münchhausen syndrome by proxy, recovered memory, multiple personality disorder (MPD), dissociative identity disorder (DID)...the list seems endless. ....recovered memories extend to allegations about networks of satanic cults and child murders. In opposition, the parents who stand so accused in turn pathologise their accuser, said to be suffering from false memory syndrome."
Steven ROSE, 1995, Times Higher Educational Supplement, 20 x.
(Reviewing I.Hacking, Rewriting the Soul.)



(vi) Identity, consistency, deception, oppositionality and the self


"Conscious systems exercise a considerable control over the contents of self-awareness. If our subjective existence is delimited by the contents of our self-awareness systems, 'we' do not fully control the direction of our attention or of our thoughts. In some instances, 'we' may be denied access to whole classes of sensory data, which nevertheless continue to be fully processed in consciousness systems and [which] may influence our actions.... 'We', in other words, experience what our consciousness systems decide to re-represent in self-awareness. The vested interest which consciousness systems have in our survival normally ensures that the information which is passed on to self-awareness is compatible with a realistic and unified view of the world and of ourselves. It is this need which conceals from us the plurality of processing that exists within consciousness."
D.A.OAKLEY & L.C.EAMES, 1985, in D.A.Oakley,
Brain and Mind. Oxford : Blackwell.

"Like the question 'Do creatures reproduce themselves by way of genes, or do genes reproduce themselves by way of creatures?': Do I navigate my way through life with the help of my mind, or does my mind navigate its way through life with the help of me? I'm not sure who's in charge."
Thomas SCHELLING, 1986, in J.Elster, The Multiple Self.
Cambridge University Press.

"Dr Tambling [Dante and Difference] rejects any attempt to identify a fundamental unity of thought in [The Divine Comedy], and stresses instead the importance of opposition and divergence."
Publisher's announcement. Cambridge University Press, 1989.

"Henri Beyle, known as Stendhal, was obsessed with the problem of the self. His obsessions can be summed up in four maxims.... They are: 'know yourself', 'be yourself', 'shape yourself' and 'hide yourself'."
Jon ELSTER, 1986, in J.Elster, The Multiple Self.
Cambridge University Press.

"The many contradictions in [Wagner's] exceedingly complex personality are explored [by R.Sabor, The Real Wagner]. One feels that the title should really end with a question mark."
Sunday Times (Books), 11 vi 1989.

"Hugh MacDiarmid, a "gentle and pugnacious Scot",.... was, to quote his biographer [A.Bold, MacDiarmid], "a Scottish nationalist with a poor opinion of the nation he lived in; a Communist who scorned the low intellectual level of the proletariat.... He was both positivist and irrationalist, realist and romantic, isolationist and internationalist." 'No! I do not believe in consistency,' the young C.M.Grieve told....his schoolmaster."
David WRIGHT, 1989, The Spectator, 1 iv.

"In the dream plays of Strindberg the individual is dissolving in mist and mysticism. Here, instead of personalities, there are memories, bits of experience, cross references, images, names, momentary encounters. In Pirandello's plays of around 1920, the nonexistence of the individual is proclaimed [and he] projects the state of soul of....the disoriented, the metaphysically as well as neurotically lost men of the twentieth century. [The plays of Brecht display the paradox that] the Independent Individual of the age of individualism....was formed by that age and belonged utterly to that society."
Eric BENTLEY, 1981, The Brecht Commentaries. New York : Grove Press.

"People can be relied on if their boundaries are definite and fixed; you know where to put them; you know they will stay put. Above all, they can be held responsible. A society made up of persons of this sort....can be conveniently managed from above."
Gardner MURPHY, 1947, Personality : A Biological Approach to
Origins and Structure.
New York : Harper & Brothers.

"Every element in [UK Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan] seemed to have its counterpoise; every uttered view its antithesis. Friend and foe alike dubbed him the "actor-manager", and they often wondered which was the actor and which the manager; which the mask and which the real man. Perhaps even Macmillan himself was not always quite clear about his own identity; perhaps it was all a game to tease and baffle."
Alistair HORNE, 1989, Macmillan 1957 - 1986: Volume II
of the Official Biography. Basingstoke : Macmillan.

"Life is a story I tell myself."
Jean Paul SARTRE.

"....mind is no sort of entity, but a system of beliefs structured by a cluster of grammatical models."
Rom HARRÉ, 1983, Personal Being.

"The [President] Reagan who became dewy-eyed over a television advert soliciting donations for an African leper colony was as authentic as the Reagan who preached fire and brimstone against the depredations of the "Evil Empire" - and then proceeded to establish a promising rapport with a new generation of Russian leaders.... What transformed Reagan into an effective President, at least during his first term {for his wife Nancy seems to have taken over later}, was an assembly of advisers who were able to harness his best qualities, while keeping them in balance."
Mark HOSENBALL, 1989, Sunday Times (Magazine), 15 i.

"As many ethologists have argued, deception is fundamental to animal communication.... the best deception is a self-deception, since it precludes involuntary tell-tale signs that might give the deceiver away. To deceive oneself, however, presupposes that one part of the mind is inaccessible to another. Self-deception is made possible by the division of the mind into a conscious operating system and an unconscious battery of parallel processors. A capacity for self-deception is accordingly a suggestive sign of a conscious organism. It shows itself in repression, perceptual defence and hysterical illness."
P.N.JOHNSON-LAIRD, 1983, Mental Models. Cambridge Univ. Press.

"Behaviour and the 'self' are emergents of self-activating cognitive processes; cognitive styles are surface emergents of interactions of large-scale clusters of such cognitive structures."
R.W.LAWLER, 1985, Computer Experience and Cognitive
Development
. Chichester : Horwood.

"Ulster Protestants, Dr Bruce argues, cling to their religion because it provides their only secure identity."
J.WHYTE, 1987, Times Higher Educational Supplement, 30 i.

"....it does seem that we are all virtuoso novelists, who find ourselves engaged in all sorts of behaviour, and we always try to put the best "faces" on if we can. We try to make all of our material cohere into a single good story. And that story is our autobiography. The chief fictional character at the centre of that autobiography is one's self." Daniel C. DENNETT (philosopher / cognitive scientist),
1988, Times Literary Supplement, 16-22 ix.

"Mike Tyson (the World Heavyweight Boxing Champion), who is only 22, is a complex character according to the boxing press and his own friends. He is indisputably brutal (and known for family disputes and street fights). He is also a sensitive young man, almost a shrinking violet, his friends say, who wishes only to be loved by his wife...."
'New Analysis', Sunday Telegraph, 11 ix 1988.
|
"One reason Tyson is so dangerous is that he fights to protect a sweetness inside him. According to intimates, he has a nasty temper and sometimes gets quite angry, banging walls or furniture; but more often he's kind, gentle and playful. He speaks with a slight lisp, is sensitive, intelligent and emotionally complex. None of this did him any good while he was growing up in a Brooklyn slum, so he learned to hide it behind a fierce warrior's mask, going about his muggings and robberies with a wild, untroubled glee."
Bill BARICH, 1989, Sunday Times (Magazine), 8 i.
|
{In 1992 Tyson was given a prison sentence for rape.}

"To be fully human is to be able to hold two apparently contradictory ideas in the head at the same time."
P.J.KAVANAGH, 1989, The Spectator, 11 iii.

"In Plural Psyche, Andrew Samuels eloquently proposes the case for pluralism in approaching key issues in depth psychology. Emphasizing the role of metaphor in elucidating psychological processes, he sets out a pluralistic model of personality development. Through a discussion of the meanings of parental imagery brought to analysis, this leads to a focus on the father's role in the formation of gender identity, seen as crucial to the evolution of psychological pluralism in individual and culture alike. In the concluding chapters, the author returns to the larger subject to discuss the hidden pluralism of moral process and the political resonances of depth psychology."
Publisher's announcement, 1989, London : Routledge & Kegan Paul.

"When the notion of a unitary self is put into question, the construction of fragments of subjectivity in different, contradictory discourses can be studied. A crucial contribution of new social psychology has been, in Harré's (1979) work, the resurrection of the notion of a multiplicity of social selves clustered around any single biological individual.... For Foucault (1972), 'we are difference.... our selves the difference of masks'."
Ian PARKER, 1989, in J.Shotter & K.J.Gergen,
Texts of Identity. London : Sage.

"The ego as master in its own household, seeking to integrate the competing demands it faces, and being successful to the extent that it achieves a unified wholeness, has its parallels in theories of governance and of authority within the Western world. The alternative....view [following Jacques Derrida, e.g. 1978, Writing and Difference] would give us a subject who is multidimensional and without centre or hierarchical integration.... the very concept of personhood that exists in the Western world, based on the requirement for either/or identity, [may be] one that threatens the very persons in whose name it is offered. This Western concept forces contrastive opposition where the mutual recognition of the other-in-self and the self-in-other is essential. The Derridean subject can never be set apart from the multiple others who are its very essence."
E.E.SAMPSON, 1989, in J.Shotter & K.J.Gergen,
Texts of Identity. London : Sage.

"[Having set in motion the 'diddleclass' ritual of receiving her visitors' coats] Phyllis was smirking at me, amused by my reluctance to part with my jacket.
'What's up Patton?' she asked. 'Scared they'll start World War Three without you?' This was a stray bullet from an old battle between us. Phyllis ridiculed me whenever the opportunity presented itself. 'A walking contradiction,' she'd called me to my face. As someone who proclaimed pacifism yet wore a CND button on a Yankee combat jacket, I suppose she had a point. If only I'd thought to quote old Walt Whitman's gentle put-down: 'Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself.'" 'Tommy Clay' in Jeff Torrington's Swing Hammer Swing! London : Secker & Warburg, 1992.

"It would be wrong to conclude [from A.Milner & M.D.Rugg, The Neuropsychology of Consciousness) that the apparently integrated nature of ordinary experience is an illusion (any more than the modular structure of language revealed by the aphasias detracts from the integrated nature of unimpaired language processing). However, as the forms of dissociation multiply {in modern researches} the mechanisms by which that integration is achieved seem to be increasingly mysterious."
M.VELMANS, 1994, British Journal of Psychology 85.





Preferences for unitariness and cohesion

"....he [the doubter] is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does."
James iv 8.

"....the biblical view of persons sees them as unitary (not fragmented), relational (not purely individual), and capable of responsible dominion within the limits imposed by their finitude and sinfulness.... The Christian can, I believe, agree with Rome Harré and Paul Secord that one of the significant features of human personhood is 'the capacity to monitor control of one's own actions'.... The person is not only an agent, but a watcher, commentator and critic as well."
Mary S. VAN LEEUWEN, 1985, The Person in Psychology.
Leicester : Inter-Varsity Press.


"There is a fair behaviour in thee, Captain;
And though that nature with a beauteous wall
Doth oft close in pollution, yet of thee
I will believe, thou has a mind that suits
With this thy fair and outward character."
'Viola' in Twelfth Night, Act I, Scene ii.


"The main significance of [the positive correlations between experimental performances in children, yielding a general intelligence factor] is, as it appears to me, that we are led to infer that all the functions of the human mind, the simplest and most complicated alike, are probably processes within a single system."
Cyril BURT, 1909/10, British Journal of Psychology 3.

"Precisely to the extent that a person can empathize with, and acquire the interests of the various members of society, to that extent he will be divided. On the other hand, the capacities that help overcome the internal divisions of a genuinely social and empathetic person, the capacities of strong, critical and often unswerving autonomy are also clearly necessary."
Amelie Oksenberg RORTY, 1986, 'Self-deception, akrasia and irrationality'.
In J.Elster, The Multiple Self. Cambridge University Press.

"....according to Parfit's Reductionist View, a person's identity over time just consists in "psychological connectedness and/or psychological continuity".... The latter notion [continuity] is explained in terms of the former [connectedness].... But Parfit has to contend with the objection that psychological continuity, as defined, presupposes personal identity.... I can remember only my past experiences. Therefore, one cannot say that what makes me the same person as a person who had certain experiences is partly that I remember those experiences."
Lloyd FIELDS, 1987, 'Parfit on personal identity and desert'.
The Philosophical Quarterly 37.


"The romantic [philosopher suggests] that the human personality is constantly and inevitably in danger of extinction through incoherence: he is suggesting in effect, that each of us is really several people making a fragile pretence to be one person. This is the sense in which philosophical romanticism [e.g. Plato, Kant] is deeply pessimistic about the human predicament.
Philosophical classicism [e.g. Aristotle, Aquinas, Locke], by contrast, is profoundly optimistic. It argues that reason need not constantly be in the process of fending off extinction through incoherence. Philosophical classicism maintains that a resolution can be achieved: a single, coherent structure can be created throughout all the activities of a given person, throughout a person's pursuit of moral as well as non-moral standards, and throughout attitudes disclosed by passion as well as by business- like activity.... where the romantic postulates disjunction, the classicist postulates ultimate congruence." Oliver LETWIN, 1987,
Ethics, Emotion and the Unity of the Self. London : Sage.

"Parfit's Reductionism appears to provide a handy middle ground between the [Realist] view that persons are extra [to the existence of brains and bodies and of life histories] and the Eliminativist view that they don't exist at all. [However] Parfit has neglected to consider the difference between heaps and structures: one feature of a heap is that there are no causal relations between the entities which make it up. Remove one grain of sand and the rest remain; pull one hair from my head and the others are unaffected. Contrast a heap of bricks with a building made of bricks. Here the bricks support each other. The loss of a single brick can turn a building into a non-building.... Parfit's argument depends upon the assumption that people are heaps of psychological continuities....
Further, the Reductionist cannot account for the rationality of our feelings of regret and remorse for our past misdeeds. If I say that I feel remorse because I murdered my brother, you would be right to be puzzled. For all this comes to is that I happen to stand in certain causal relations to the man who killed my brother - and no one else does; an why feel remorse over that?"
J.STONE, 1988, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 48.

"[According to D.Parfit, 1984, Reasons and Persons] there is psychological connectedness when a person remembers doing or experiencing something that someone earlier did or experienced, or when a person's intention to do something lends to its later being done, or when psychological states, such as beliefs and desires, persist over time. There is psychological continuity when there is a sufficiently strong overlapping chain of psychological connectedness. What matters in survival is not personal identity, but rather psychological connectedness and/or continuity.... [Yet] some may value their bodies solely because they believe their bodies are essential to preserving their identities. Many will value their bodies because their bodies have been and are the vehicle for virtually all that has been significant in their lives. Thus physical continuity can matter, and for perfectly acceptable reasons, even if it is not necessary for identity - so Parfit is mistaken."
R.MARTIN, 1988, Philosophical Studies 53.

"There is no evidence [from my study] to suggest that the highly aggressive boys, the bullies, are anxious, sensitive and insecure under the surface. The available data , obtained with a number of reliable and valid methods [from self-reports, mothers' ratings and endocrinological measurement of stress response], clearly point in the opposite direction [counter to common belief]."
D.OLWEUS, 1988, in W.Buikhuisen & S.A.Mednick,
Explaining Criminal Behaviour. Leiden : E.J.Brill.

"If there were no self, then there would be no self-creation.... Self-creation would be in danger of self-destruction." J.BROACKES, 1988, New Society, 29 iv. (Reviewing J.Glover, The Philosophy and Psychology of Personal Identity.)

"A theorization of the human subject as non-unitary and non-rational has implications for method at all levels, the most basic of which is that informants' responses or accounts (whether codified as numbers or words) cannot be taken at face value, subject only to considerations of 'bias'."
Wendy HOLLOWAY, 1995, British Journal of Psychology 86.

"M.Burleigh (1995, Death and Deliverance: Euthanasia in Germany, 1900-1945, CUP) rejects the notion of Robert Jay Lifton (The Nazi Doctors) that the camp doctors lived double lives-killers at work and nice family men at home; rather, he argues that the doctors brought their families into the workplace. The notorious Professor Werner Hyde, for example, brought his wife and daughter to see selections at Dachau."
Kristie MACRAKIS, 1995, Nature 378, 14 xii.




"Henri Beyle, known as Stendhal, was obsessed with the problem of the self. His obsessions can be summed up in four maxims.... They are: 'know yourself', 'be yourself', 'shape yourself' and 'hide yourself'."
Jon ELSTER, 1986, in J.Elster, The Multiple Self.
Cambridge University Press.
{The proposals are those, respectively, of Socrates, Spencer,
Shaw and modern sociobiology.}




Epilogue



"Both Descartes and Samuel Johnson are quoted by The Times [in an editorial critical of Francis Crick's The Astonishing Hypothesis, New York, Scribner] as sources of the belief that conscious thought (no to mention the soul) has no material correlates. The newspaper says that "only when the details are worked out can we be sure that the reductionists are right" and, a little wistfully, that "proving it may turn out to be a long and difficult task." Many no doubt hope that the prediction is correct."
Editorial in Nature 369, 12 v 1994.

"What is distinctive of the mental? Galen Strawson (1995, Mental Reality) challenges neobehaviourist accounts of the mental and argues that the answer is not intelligence, sapience, representational content or intentionality, but conscious experience."
Publisher's announcement, Times Higher Educational Supplement, 3 ii 1995.
|
""Experience is real; materialism is true; nothing in current physics covers experiential properties of the world." If this is right, then vast tracts of contemporary thought about the mind-from Wittgensteinians to functionalists-are simply wrong about the nature of mental phenomena."
C.McGINN, 1995, review G.Strawson's Mental Reality, Nature 373, 2 ii.

"Binocular rivalry....may shed light on the baffling problem of visual awareness, a visual form of consciousness. In very simple terms, the visual input is relatively constant {to the two separate eyes}, yet the percept changes radically with each alteration {when the subject 'sees' what is being presented to one eye or the other}.... Logothetis (1996, Nature 379) now reports that all the neurons modulated by the percept were at deeper layers [of the visual cortex, in monkeys].... This hints that special types of neurons may be involved [in visual awareness].... [This work marks the beginning of] a concerted attack on the baffling problem of consciousness.... We first need {as here} to discover the neural correlates of consciousness (often called NCCs)."
Francis CRICK, 1996, Nature 379, 8 ii.

FINIS

(Compiled by Chris Brand, Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh.)





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