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Tuesday, January 04, 2011

On Freud, valid forms of Critique and valid types of Data

"The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority. The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking." - A. A. Milne

***

[Ed: This post is (kind of) a followup to On Reason and Freud]

Someone: i think most ppl accept [Freud and Lacan], use them, as ways of thinking about, and critiquing realms of culture
not least politics

Me: unfortunately

the thing is things dont work
yet people press on

using freud to critique corprophilia is nonsense, for example

because the fact is most people hate shit
despite what freud claims

Someone: i think one can generate interesting things to say about this strange hatred

why hatred
besides asserting, point blank, the fact, why can't we say someth useful

and, the way we talk about shit is not just in the toilet, but in relation to broader notions of disgust
when ppl associate shit, disgust, with say ppl/social groups they despise
or behaviour they find disgusting

say, walking around naked in public

toilet training, according to freud, is an essential part of our socialisation into civilisation

yeah, pointing out the obvious
but he relates it to other essentials of our training/socialisation from the "polymorphously perverse" state of infancy

he has an account of how the infant is disciplined into behaving appropriately wrt shit, urine, food, genital stimulation
in a sense, he was prob the first to say it in a very suggestive and productive way

Me: yes but infants do not delight in shit

Someone: how do you know

it could be claimed (i don't know) by queer theorists for instance, that gays retain this memory of the pleasure of anal retention

and, if you argue against this (ab)use of freud, because you (say as a queer theorist) see unacceptable/dangerous long term implications of such discourse being legitimized---i think is a much stronger rebuttal, with force, of Freud, than simply criticizing psychoanalysis as tautological (self-confirming belief)

Me: err no
gays like anal sex because they have a prostate
but women do not

I argue against it because it is nonsense
long term implications are just fuel on the fire

Someone: you /decide/ it is nonsense.

Me: sigh
I'm not going to go into this

suffice it to say that if no one can decide what is nonsense
no one can decide whether the idea that no one can decide what is nonsense is nonsense or not
so it's self-defeating

Someone: note, i didn't say no one can decide what is nonsense.
evidently you could.

Me: your implication is that there is no objectivity about my evaluation

Someone: i was implying your approach sounds rather tautological, in the very moment you accuse it of tautology

if LHL had such good control of his mind/thoughts, why did he make a slip of the tongue in saying he wanted to "fix" the opposition?
lacan's 'reinterpretation' of freud's concept of the unconscious is a fruitful way to discuss how ppl unwittingly reveal their beliefs/ideologies/anxieties (esp racism and sexism) in these slips of the tongue, and much else..

why certain films, novels, plays, areas of discourse, uses certain terms
why a fixation upon some things and not others--why a 'repression'

science (biology, neuroscience, medicine) prob has the last say at the molecular level of how the world really is
but when it comes to the psyche, with its blurred borders with the sociocultural/political--things are much more complex

Me: yes when it comes to the psyche things are more complex
but you still must look at data
rather than talking cock

Someone: who said I?we?ppl? don't look at data?
why are novels, films, paintings not data?

besides the firing of neurons, why aren't cultural products not data outputs?

why do you fixate on using terms like talking cock?
nonsense

Me: novels, films and paintings are data about their creators
even if you looked at a large sample, your dataset would be valid only for writers, movie makers and painters

what terms should I use instead

Someone: "dataset would be valid only for writers, movie makers and painters"--> you assume they have no clue and never express anything beyond what is in their mind

you assume what they create is not what others think too

Me: it's their interpretations of the world

Someone: now you are more relativist than i am

Me: ???
it's what they think about the world

I am trying to access the world with fewer filters
not more

Someone: their interpretations belongonly to them--isn't that relativism?

Me: no it's not

relativism says that everyone is right
different

Someone: yeah, every writer/artist/filmmaker is right because they each have a unique interpretation

no one has an interpretation that can be shared or is common with others
is that true??

why do ppl "like" the same FB statuses, or buy into the same ideologies etc.
at some level, there can be common interpretations

Me: I didn't say they were all equally right
it depends on whether you are talking about opinions or facts
for facts you must look at data

Someone: are not some creators more representative of certain ways of thinking?

are not their data very relevant and key to understanding certain cultural entities/structures?

do not leading artists/filmmakers/novelsts set the way/model for others to follow?

ppl imitiate and copy leading intellectuals or ways of thinking
they dont always create from nothing what they think

Me: some of them are
but people do not imitate everything

why not look at what people really
instead of something people *might* copy parts of

you're purposely choosing the difficult, more imperfect way

Someone: no, i'm not choosing this more tortuous way over 'simpler' more efficient methods of analysis

i think there are methods of analysis that fail at certain levels
e.g. freudain slips and unconscious

we always claim to be who we are, that we never slip up
but then we know that after some time, getting to know someone/a culture, there are inconsistencies

certain obsessions, things blanked out
'repressed'

Me: now you're going off in another direction

the question is how do you know those inconsistencies come about because of repression

as the saying goes never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity

Someone: yes, but the question of stupidity (not least malice) remains unexplained

why are ppl stupid
well, stupid is as stupid is, but why?

Me: that's another question
and you keep spinning into new threads

Someone: why can't they be consistent, and be themselves
be who they ought to be

yes, "theory" prob has no bounds
but that's why we keep doing things, keep critiquing abuse of power, critiquing bigotry etc.

Me: har

Someone: basically you have nothing much interesting to say
amusing observations and quips

Me: har?

Someone: "the question is how do you know those inconsistencies come about because of repression"--> homophobes are often closet homosexuals
they repress what they fear might be true about themselves (that they desire men)

Me: that is seductive but you need evidence for that
instead of just boldly asserting it

*critique of the gay porn-homophobe-penile turgidity experiment*

and that [experiment] is an example of data
rather than sitting in your armchair and asserting your speculations as if they were reality

Someone: most academic research reports are written at a desk, with a computer, by someone at an office chair, not exactly relaxed in an armchair by the hearth

Me: ...

Someone: but i have no objections at all to the way newton 'collected' his data from astronomical observations made by others that were written down
if newton read them in an armchair, and conceived of universal gravitation in it, all power to him!

Me: knowledge is justified true belief

if you believe something that is true
but don't know why it is true, or don't have a good reason for believing it is true, then it is not knowledge

as I've previously said even a broken clock is right twice a day

Someone: before copernicus, most ppl could justify their belief in the geocentric universe as true. they had good reason for this belief. impeccable reason. is it knowledge?
ditto aristarchus and flat earth--ppl know it's true because of the evidence of their senses, among other things.

Me: no
as I said 1) justified 2) true 3) belief

Someone: too often, perhaps inevitably, we find ourselves debating what X means, instead of what conclusions can we draw from X really is
i.e. debate over ontology, what X (any entity) /is/ is the thing itself in question.
thus...Heidegger asking us to begin to think about Being, to remind ourselves that we don't know what Being is, to question again the meaning of saying "X is ..."

we have to assume/restrict the meaning of X. to define it for purposes of productive debate.

wch MSN chat is quite a futile format in wch to do so.
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