[lit-ideas] Re: Violence as Destruction of Doubt
- From: John McCreery <mccreery@xxxxxxx>
- To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Fri, 16 Sep 2005 15:31:06 +0900
On 2005/09/16, at 15:01, Eric Yost wrote:
There you go. Another theory. Doesn't require the unconscious. Plus
it has some empirical backing.
Good point. I wonder, though, if we shouldn't introduce a bit more
rigor into the way we use terms like "the unconscious."
In, for example, The New Essays on Human Understanding, Leibniz
observes, contra Locke, that perception cannot be entirely a matter
of conscious awareness. He cites, for example, being wakened from
sleep. The perception of the stimulus that wakes us begins before we
become conscious of it; else, we would not wake at all.
This view has now, I believe, become quite widely accepted by
cognitive scientists and neurophysiologists who point to the huge
amount of information processing that goes on in simple acts like
walking across a room of which we are rarely if ever aware.
As I understand it, there is in Freudian thought a distinction
between two types of unconscious, the preconscious (below the level
of active awareness, the sort of thing that Leibniz and the cognitive
scientists seem to be pointing) and the subconscious, conceived of in
psychoanalytic theory as a body of material actively suppressed
because it conflicts with the normative demands of the Superego, the
embodiment of social norms learned through parental example and
instruction. In strictly Freudian psychoanalysis there is the further
idea that subconscious materials largely have to do with sex and
aggression. Jung goes off in another direction, envisioning the
subconscious as composed of the Archetypes that make up the
I am not advocating any of these specifically psychoanalytic notions
or theories that build on them to "explain" religion. I am, however,
suggesting that casually tossing around the word "unconscious" does
little to advance understanding of religion or anything else.
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