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Mental Duality and Schopenhauer

Posted: Thu Aug 16, 2012 2:22 pm
by ignosympathnoramus
I just finishing reading Schopenhauer's magnum opus for the second time and was incredibly delighted to find that Schopenhauer was aware of the debates going on in France in the very early 1800's about hemispheric specialization and that his entire work can be considered an exploration of the duality of the human mind way back in 1818! As far as I know this would make him the worlds first "dual-mind" theorist, before A. L. Wigan came along in 1844. Schopenhauer writes (p131 of WWR V1):

"On the other hand, in the human species every individual has to be studied and fathomed by himself, and this is of the greatest difficulties, if we wish to determine beforehand with some degree of certainty his course of action, on account of the possibility of dissimulation which makes its first appearance with the faculty of reason. It is probably connected with this difference between the human species and all others, that the furrows and convolutions of the brain, entirely wanting in birds and still very weakly marked in rodents, are even in the higher animals far more symmetrical on both sides, and more constantly the same in each individual, than they are in man."

He very clearly emphasizes that there are two minds, Reason and The Understanding; two forms of knowledge, conceptual and intuitive. When he refers to the human "Intellect" he is referring to both functions working together, sometimes in harmony, sometimes in disharmony. One of his main themes is the overemphasis in his day on rational knowledge versus intuitive, and how all of our concepts really have percepts or intuitive knowledge/experience as their "content." He is an "empiricist" insofar as he is constantly giving warnings about theorizing by only rearranging your concepts without touching base with the intuitive mind.

I highlighted a number of sections that may be very relevant to Jaynes and would happily add them to this thread if there is any interest out there.

Re: Mental Duality and Schopenhauer

Posted: Tue Aug 28, 2012 10:09 pm
by Moderator
Please do...

Have you read Medicine, Mind, and the Double Brain by Anne Harrington? It's a very thorough discussion of history of the topic of mental duality and the double brain.

Re: Mental Duality and Schopenhauer

Posted: Wed Sep 05, 2012 7:01 pm
by ignosympathnoramus
No, I haven't read that book yet...the reviews seem to indicate that she is only discussing this issue post 1840's. Is that the case?

After looking through my notes I realize that there are not so many individual quotes related to Jaynes as I thought...instead, I have tons of quotes that would demonstrate that Schopenhauer preempted the core ideas of Darwin, Einstein, Lakoff and Johnson, but especially Nietzsche and Ernest Becker. While there are not so many individual quotes I could include here, this is simply because the whole book should be considered an explication of the dual mind and relevant to Jaynes in that respect. However, with that being said, here are some quotes to get things started...highly suggestive of Levi-Bruhl's views:

Volume 1 p. 250-251: "the identity of the subject of knowing with the subject of willing can be called the miracle par excellence, so that the poetical effect of the song really rests ultimately on the truth of that principle. In the course of life, these two subjects, or in popular language head and heart, grow more and more apart; men are always separating more and more their subjective feeling from their objective knowledge. In the child the two are still fully blended; it hardly knows how to distinguish itself from its surroundings; it is merged into them. In the youth all perception in the first place affects feeling and mood, and even mingles with these, as is very beautifully expressed by Byron: 'I live not in myself, but I become portion of that around me; and to me high mountains are a feeling."

p. 278, regarding memory being a reconstruction via imagination: "Our own past, even the most recent, even the previous day, is only an empty dream of the imagination, and the past of all those millions is the same."

p. 323: "Man creates for himself in his own image demons, gods, and saints; then to these must be incessantly offered sacrifices, prayers, temple decorations, vows and their fulfillment, pilgrimages, salutations, adornment of images and so on. Their service is everywhere closely interwoven with reality, and indeed obscures it. Every event in life is then accepted as the counter-effect of these beings. Intercourse with them fills up half the time of life, constantly sustains hope, and, by the charm of delusion, often becomes more interesting than intercourse with real beings. It is the expression and the symptom of man's double need, partly for help and support, partly for occupation and diversion. While it often works in direct opposition to the first need, in that, with the occurrence of accidents and dangers, valuable time and strength, instead of averting them, are uselessly wasted on prayers and sacrifices, then, by way of compensation, it serves the second need all the better by that imaginary conversation with a visionary spirit-world; and this is the advantage of all superstitions, which is by no means to be despised." (fans of Becker will notice here his twin ontological motives of Eros and Agape)

Volume 2 p. 344, in a discussion of somnambulism and instinct: "Thus to her it was as though she had to perform that action without really knowing why. This certainly has the greatest resemblance to what happens in the case of the mechanical tendencies in insects. The young spider feels as if it had to spin its web, although it neither knows nor understands its purpose. Here we are also reminded of the daemon of Socrates, by virtue of which he had the feeling that he must leave undone an action expected of him or lying near him, without his knowing why; for his prophetic dream about it was forgotten...All this depends on the dull after-effect of forgotten fatidical dreams, and gives us the key to an analogous understanding of instinct and mechanical tendencies." (fatidical means prophetic)

p. 429 "The sign by which we recognize most immediately the genuine poet, of the higher as well as of the lower species, is the easy and unforced nature of his rhymes. They have occurred automatically as if by divine decree; his ideas come to him already in rhyme." He speaks earlier of rhythm and rhyme in V1: "In this way rhythm and rhyme become a means partly of holding our attention, since we more willingly follow the poem when read; and partly through them there arises in us a blind consent to what is read, prior to any judgement, and this gives the poem a certain emphatic power of conviction, independent of all reason or argument."

He has a lot to say on visual versus auditory consciousness, but the discussion spans pages and chapters without easy and succinct quotes I could bring in here.

Re: Mental Duality and Schopenhauer

Posted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 9:29 pm
by ignosympathnoramus
Just finished Harrington's book — what a treasure-trove! Thanks again for the recommendation. The section on John Hughlings Jackson was especially important. I wonder if he read Schopenhauer? Anyone read his biography?