Was Freud right about anything?

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To understand contemporary adult development, one must read In Over our Heads by Robert Kegan. Only 1-5% of adults reach the 5th stage of development.

Freud is archaic at best. His theories may suffice for 20th century living, at best.
 
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Mar 22, 2020
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From The Onion:

"Obsessive compulsion to taxonomize psychological disorders added to the DSR."

Its not a science its a secular replacement for religion. Some people are good at it, but they are born that way. Something is only a science if it can predict with a high degree of accuracy.
 
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Of course we all want to have sex with our parents-- at least at some level. We're animals, and the first female we know is our own mother.

Again, as far as I know there is no good scientific support for this proposition, and I find Deleuze & Guattari's cultural critique of psychoanalysis's sexual obsession with mommy-daddy to be on-target (at least for that era). As Deleuze wrote in 1973, a year after he published Anti-Oedipus with Guattari: "As for our own exteriority (at least one of our exteriorities) it has been a large group of people (especially young people) who are fed up with psychoanalysis. They're 'trapped', to use your expression, because they generally continue in analysis even after they've started to question psychoanalysis—but in psychoanalytic terms. (On a personal note, for example, how can boys from Gay Lib, and girls from Women's Lib, and plenty others like them, go into analysis? Doesn't it embarrass them? Do they believe in it? What on earth are they doing on the couch?) It is the existence of this trend that made Anti-Oedipus possible. And if psychoanalysts, ranging from the most stupid to the most intelligent ones, have as a whole greeted the book with hostility, but defensively rather than aggressively, that's obviously not just because of its content but because of this growing current of people getting fed up listening to themselves saying 'daddy, mommy, Oedipus, castration, regression' and seeing themselves presented with a really inane image of sexuality in general and of their own sexuality in particular."

More recently, some people (such as Richard Webster in his 1995 book Why Freud Was Wrong) have claimed that Freud's theory of the Oedipus complex served to explain away real childhood sexual abuse. Webster wrote: "Even though Freud himself specifically pointed out on a number of occasions that memories of childhood seductions sometimes did correspond to real events, the overwhelming tendency of the psychoanalytic profession throughout most of the twentieth century has been to construe recollections of incest as fantasies. In this respect, at least, psychoanalysis in general and the theory of the Oedipus complex in particular have caused untold harm."

Freud admitted many of his mistakes; Watson and Skinner never did. I'm glad Freud's theories are still an integral part of how psychology is practiced today, and I think the world would be a much better place if we were rid of Skinner and Watson's once and for all.

That the reasons we consciously give for our behaviour are complete post hoc fabrications and excuses, whereas the real causes of our behaviour are unconscious and unknown to us, is being gradually demonstrated by Gazzinga (split brain patients), Nisbett and Wilson (telling more than we can know), Haidt (emotion based moral judgement), Libet ("mind time"), Airely (predictably irrational) and a host of other psychologists and neuroscientists.

There is no question that Freud was influential for a while; the article, as short as it is, is unequivocal about this fact. As I noted above, it starts with the the sentence: "Sigmund Freud is one of the most famous doctors to delve into the human subconscious." And then the article notes: "In his own time, Freud enjoyed celebrity status as a leading intellectual of the 20th century." This does not seem to be controversial.

However, it is only among a minority of clinicians that "Freud's theories are still an integral part of how psychology is practiced today" as @Catalyzt claimed above. And current theories of cognition, even "unconscious" cognition (all those researchers mentioned by @timtak above, and many more) are so different from what Freud wrote that they cannot be considered indebted to Freud nor "proof" that Freud was right—especially since ideas about unconscious cognitive processes were common prior to Freud, as Henri Ellenberger pointed out in his 1970 book The Discovery of the Unconscious.

Finally, don't think that one has to choose between Freud and Skinner; we can perfectly well be critical of both psychoanalysis and radical behaviorism. For example, philosopher of science Mario Bunge was very critical of both psychoanalysis and radical behaviorism, in books such as Philosophy of Psychology (with Rubén Ardila, Springer, 1987).
 
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And current theories of cognition, even "unconscious" cognition (all those researchers mentioned by @timtak above, and many more) are so different from what Freud wrote that they cannot be considered indebted to Freud nor "proof" that Freud was right.

I did not use the word "proof" but I stand by my contention that subsequent research is demonstrating that the causes of our behaviour are not our conscious reasoning, but an unconscious something-else ("it"), as Freud claimed. And while most of the theory of superegos (intra psychic others) is independent, and some predating Freud (e.g. Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson [allegorically], Martin Luther), Derrida, Rochat are indebted to Freud, or at least cite him. Others have attempted to prove his theories with varying degrees of success, the first fairy successfully as mentioned.

Adams, H. E., L. W. Wright Jr, and B. A. Lohr. 1996. “Is Homophobia Associated with Homosexual Arousal?” Journal of Abnormal Psychology 105 (3): 440–45.
Baumeister, R. F. (2002). Ego depletion and self-control failure: An energy model of the self's executive function. Self and identity, 1(2), 129-136.
Baumeister, Roy F., Karen Dale, and Kristin L. Sommer. n.d. “Freudian Defense Mechanisms and Empirical Findings in Modern Social Psychology: Reaction Formation, Projection, Displacement, Undoing, Isolation, Sublimation, and Denial.” http://faculty.fortlewis.edu/burke_b/personality/readings/freuddefense.pdf
 
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I did not use the word "proof" but I stand by my contention that subsequent research is demonstrating that the causes of our behaviour are not our conscious reasoning

Right, I went beyond what you said when I referred to "proof". Regardless, it's well established at this point that much cognitive processing or mental activity is not conscious reasoning. (However, current neurocognitive models are different from what Freud proposed—as John Kihlstrom put it, "the modern definition of unconscious processes and preconscious contents owes nothing to Freud".) This article does not question that. The criticisms of Freud quoted from Crews in this article are much more specific, e.g.: "He invoked his favorite concepts, chiefly repression, and would say the patient's unconscious secretly harbored Freud's ideas but was too scared to confront them. That's the exact opposite of testing ideas." This is a common criticism of Freud, not unique to Crews.

I'm not familiar with the first reference you cited, but Baumeister's work on ego depletion has been significantly criticized. There is a large literature on that debate, and I'm not sure what is the best overview of it, but I'll pick one article and discussion from one of my favorite journals: Robert Kurzban, Angela Duckworth, Joseph W. Kable, & Justus Myers (2013), "An opportunity cost model of subjective effort and task performance" [and comments and reply], Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 36(6), 661–726. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X12003196

There has also been criticism of a recent tendency in psychology to ascribe "inflated and erroneous explanatory power" to unconscious influences: Ben R. Newell & David R. Shanks (2014), "Unconscious influences on decision making: a critical review" [and comments and reply], Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 37(1), 1–61. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X12003214

Regarding the last reference that you cited, I agree that Freud's (and his daughter's) ideas about defense mechanisms have led to interesting and clinically useful research. Overall, though, I think it is important to emphasize that although Freud was very famous, his ideas were only a very small part of the marketplace of clinical ideas in the twentieth century, so to separate him out from all the other published clinicians and researchers, as this article does, focuses too much attention on him and misses the great complexity of the literature on clinical psychological theory, research, and practice.

Source of Kihlstrom quotation: https://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~jfkihlstrom/Pervin3.htm
 
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Freud was basically right about the way that the unconscious and subconscious mind exert a powerful influence upon our conscious experience.
 
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@timtak: Try to get a copy of the published version of the Behavioral and Brain Sciences articles, if you can, with all the commentaries and the reply. The link you included in your last post is just a draft of the target article. The whole package, with comments and reply, is the best feature of BBS, and why it is one of my favorite journals: amazing intellectual discourse.
 
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Mar 24, 2020
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"But Freud didn't use science to arrive at this idea. He started out with a theory and then worked backward, seeking out tidbits to reinforce his beliefs and then aggressively dismissing anything else that challenged those ideas."

So, same as climate change "science" research, then.
 
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Thank you again @Michel. Unfortunately my low ranking Japanese university does not give me access to that journal, so I have to be content with that which I can google. Should you be so kind as to email me the papers (to the email link at http://nihonbunka.com/) I would be very grateful.

"But Freud didn't use science to arrive at this idea. He started out with a theory and then worked backward, seeking out tidbits to reinforce his beliefs and then aggressively dismissing anything else that challenged those ideas."

I think that this is true.

I think that Freud had some sort of insight early in his life that informed his theory.

This has no bearing on whether he was right or not, so it is tangential to the thread but maybe it is of interest.

Central to Freud's theory is the Oedipus complex, which is complex in that we are claimed to have a love hate relationship towards our fathers, and fear of loosing our testes to them, and it is the job of psychoanalysts to have their patients uncover this ambivalence and fear.

The most famous Sophoclean version of the Oedipus myth contains a fairly minor character, Tiresia, the ancient Greek father of all shrinks that informed Oedipus that it was he himself who had killed his own father, and by implication was married to his own mother.

The origin of Tiresias's insight was that after seeing snakes mate he was turned into a woman for several years so had experience of being both man and woman, such that he was able to answer the famous question regarding the sexual pleasure of each sex.

Freud believed that homosexuality was a stage in sexual development everyone (including himself) passes through, and Freud's earliest research was on the sex life of eels. He dissected 400 eels in an attempt to find their testes, ultimately finding no conclusive proof of their existence.

I think Freud saw himself as both Oedipus (like everyone) and Tiesia, having had a similar experiences: acquaintance with the sex life of snaky things, and having had sexual attraction to males, and some sort of insight.
 
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Thank you again @Michel. Unfortunately my low ranking Japanese university does not give me access to that journal, so I have to be content with that which I can google.

PDF copies on various servers can often be found via Google Scholar. There are copies available on various servers via the following Google Scholar links for the two articles I mentioned above (if these links don't work for you, let me know):


Regarding your remarks about Freud and Sophocles, there's no doubt that Freud has been a literary resource, an "idea factory" as Harold Takooshian said in the article, a producer of ideas that people have used to write a "psychoanalytic psychobiography" of themselves, however fanciful or arbitrary. William McKinley Runyan wrote in 1988 about the arbitrariness of psychoanalytic psychobiography:

"One of the most complex and difficult issues in the field of psychobiography is that of assessing the influence of childhood experience on adult character and behavior. In psychoanalytically oriented psychobiographies, aspects of adult behavior are often attributed to circumstances and experiences in childhood. In the worst cases, 'hypotheses about early developments are speculatively deduced from adult events and then used to explain those events' (Izenberg, 1975, p. 139). In more fortunate cases, available evidence about childhood experiences are interpreted as an important causal determinant of adult personality and behavior. This practice of interpreting the whole life in terms of early childhood experience has, however, come under attack from a number of different directions. ... Another possible response is to think that all this symbolic and psychodynamic interpretation is somewhat arbitrary, perhaps even hopelessly arbitrary. If interpretations can be generated simply by noting psychological similarities between the event in question and earlier events and experiences, then connections are 'embarrassingly easy to find', and 'the number of possible (and plausible) explanations is infinite' (Spence, 1976, pp. 377, 379). A skeptic could argue that the process of psychodynamic interpretation is so arbitrary, leading to so many different possible interpretations, that the whole enterprise should be viewed with suspicion. A milder version of this criticism would maintain that the process of psychodynamic interpretation is perfectly legitimate, but that it has been used with insufficient constraint. ... The problem of alternative explanations and how to choose among them must be faced within any theoretical orientation, but seems particularly acute in psychoanalysis. One of the glories of psychoanalysis as a theoretical system is that it can be used to provide several explanations of almost any human behavior, but the corresponding liability is that it is not certain how much faith should be put in any of the particular explanations. ... A fifth possibility is that psychobiographers who believe that psychoanalysis has been helpful in their interpretive tasks have mistaken. While having the subjective experience of gaining insight, they may actually have been led into errors or false interpretations. Perhaps psychoanalytic theory satisfies a human need to find pattern or meaning, but such patterns can be found in biographical material even where none actually exist, or at least not the ones suggested by the theory." — William McKinley Runyan (1988), "Alternatives to psychoanalytic psychobiography", in William McKinley Runyan (ed.), Psychology and Historical Interpretation (pp. 219–244), Oxford University Press.

For a more recent theoretical approach relevant to psychobiography, see, e.g.: Catherine C. Ayoub & Kurt W. Fischer (2006), "Developmental pathways and intersections among domains of development", in Kathleen McCartney & Deborah Phillips (eds.), Blackwell Handbook of Early Childhood Development (pp. 62–82), Blackwell. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/9780470757703.ch4
 
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PDF copies on various servers can often be found via Google Scholar. There are copies available on various servers via the following Google Scholar links for the two articles I mentioned above (if these links don't work for you, let me know):


Thank you @Michel
I will have a look at those papers and subsequent ones.

To be honest, I had a sort of insight myself when I was young, about 32 years ago (I am now 55). I had a psychotic experience, that sort of confirmed for me Freud's theories. Of course, my psychotic experience is unlikely to persuade anyone, but I managed to persuade myself, that for instance, there are other roles in my mind. So, for me Freud is as near to the truth as I read anywhere else, though the list of "internal other" theorists mentioned above, I recommend too.

These days I find myself informed by British glam rock, Buddhism, and Christianity, in a kind of Freudian way, despite spending most of my life an atheist.
 
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These days I find myself informed by British glam rock, Buddhism, and Christianity, in a kind of Freudian way, despite spending most of my life an atheist.

Cool. There has to be tolerance for (and even celebration of) this kind of highly personal meaning-making, being "in delusion throughout delusion" to quote Dogen (whom you probably know, given your familiarity with Japan and Buddhism). What we call science requires rigorously rational elimination of hypotheses, so from a scientific perspective Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont (in their 1998 book Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science) were right to skewer Lacan, Kristeva, Deleuze & Guattari, et al. More and more I appreciate rigorous rationality, but being rigorous gets tiring sometimes (rigor mortis) and I then I want to, as Deleuze said quoting Godard, just have ideas, not 'just ideas'.

"Compare Godard's formula; not a correct image, just an image [pas une image juste, juste une image]. It is the same in philosophy as in a film or a song: no correct ideas, just ideas [pas d'idées justes, justes des idées]. Just ideas: this is the encounter, the becoming, the theft and the nuptials, this 'between-two' of solitudes. When Godard says he would like to be a production studio, he is obviously not trying to say that he wants to produce his own films or he wants to edit his own books. He is trying to say 'just ideas', because, when it comes down to it, you are all alone, and yet you are like a conspiracy of criminals. You are no longer an author, you are a production studio, you have never been more populated."

As good as it can feel just to have ideas, eventually I do ask myself about those ideas: "Am I right about anything?" Then the rigorous rationality comes back to eliminate whatever hypotheses can't survive various kinds of testing designed to eliminate them.
 
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You mention just Ideas, ideas that are just, and ideas that are true, or can be tested.

Normally it is assume that true ideas are ideas that are just, but it could be the case that the testable true ideas are really bad, both in what they reveal about oneself, and in their consequences.

I used to think that my favorite French thinkers were being obscure because they hand nothing better to say, but then it seemed to me that Derrida, e.g. in Freud's Legacy (Legs de Freud) and religious leaders such as Hakuin and his "what is the sound of one hand clapping," or Jesus' "do this in memory of me" seemed to be hinting at the same sort of truth that Phillipe Rocat says can cause schizophrenia (Other's in Mind, p. 204-207). This makes for unjust ideas that are very difficult to test, or at least peer review. I don't think I am going to go back to reading Lacan, but, all is forgiven.
 
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You mention just Ideas, ideas that are just, and ideas that are true, or can be tested.

Normally it is assume that true ideas are ideas that are just, but it could be the case that the testable true ideas are really bad, both in what they reveal about oneself, and in their consequences.

I am using "just", "right", "correct", and "surviving rigorously rational elimination of all alternatives" as equivalent adjectives (or adjectival clause in the last instance) applying to ideas. By "idea" I mean roughly what philosophers call a "proposition" but also more generally the set of such propositions that constitute a model or theory.

Some ideas could be right for only a short period of time, and some ideas could be right for a longer period of time. Some ideas are right but partial: One side of a cube is a square. Some ideas are right but perspectival: When I view a cube from this point, I see a square. In the case of a model or theory, if only some of the ideas that constitute it are right and others are not, then I would want to either revise the model or theory or reject it entirely. With regard to psychoanalysis, I tend toward rejecting it since there are viable alternatives, but I accept that others may choose to revise it.

If my mind can't accept the consequences of an idea that has stubbornly survived rigorously rational elimination of all alternatives, then it is probably my mind that needs to change, not the idea. If I can't change my mind, then so much the worse for my mind and for everyone else who has to live with it. Koans, as I understand them, are ideas (or, if not ideas, questions) that are designed to change my mind. It may be that that there are many ideas like this: not right, but useful for changing my mind. Indeed, that's probably one reason why we still read and teach philosophers whose ideas we generally agree are not right.

Speaking of ideas that are not right, I was looking through recent literature on the Oedipus complex and found a wonderfully succinct chapter by psychiatrist Joel Paris, "Childhood and psychoanalysis", in his 2000 book Myths of Childhood:

"Freud's attempt to reduce complex psychological phenomena to fixations at various stages failed the test of empirical verification. ... We can draw similar conclusions about the idea of a universal 'Oedipus complex'. Although Freud considered this to be a central construct in his system, it has withstood neither the test of time nor the scrutiny of empirical data. For example, Freud (1918/1955), to buttress his proposal, had suggested that the primal scene, i.e., seeing one's parents have sexual intercourse, is a profound trauma for a child. This idea flies in the face of the simple fact that most children throughout history have slept in the same room as their parents, and there is no serious evidence that witnessing a primal scene is in any way pathogenic.

"Children may express a fantasy of growing up and marrying the parent of the opposite sex. But what is the evidence that these feelings have the profound significance for adult development claimed by Freud? S. Fisher and Greenberg (1996) carefully reviewed the literature and found no evidence for a relationship between events at this stage, or between feelings about Oedipal issues, and any measure of later functioning. Freud's concept is also contradicted by cross-cultural evidence (Durham, 1992) suggesting that incest avoidance is not due to sexual desire for a parent but to an innate mechanism triggered by proximity during childhood. (This is why unrelated children brought up a siblings, as on a Kibbutz, will not marry each other as adults.)

"For all these reasons, the Oedipus complex no longer functions as a central tenet of psychodynamic theory. Among psychoanalysts, it is either given lip service, reinterpreted, or quietly shelved (Paris, 1976). Unfortunately, the demise of the Oedipus complex has gone unannounced!"

And toward the end of the chapter Paris wrote (echoing my own attitude):

"In summary, the most serious problem with psychoanalysis remains its method of determining truth, that is, its epistemology. However much the field has matured, it continues to suffer from a reliance on clinical inference to support broad conclusions about psychological development. Theory-building on the basis of clinical experience was the basis of Freud's method and became the model for all those who followed him. Those who attempted to revise psychoanalytic theory found it was sufficient to state that they had observed a hitherto undescribed dynamic mechanism. Since the time of Freud, new models of development have proliferated, and much ink has been spilt about their relative merits. We can cut this Gordian knot easily: None of the competing theories has ever been based on scientific observation.

"Yet as psychoanalysis changes, it has become a moving target for its critics. The model can never be disproved as long as it is open to endless revision. It is fair to acknowledge that by shelving, or even rejecting, some of Freud's most cherished concepts (the central role of sexuality, the Oedipus complex, and the structural theory of the mind) and by replacing these ideas with object relations and attachment theories, psychoanalysis has become more compatible with contemporary psychology. ... But empiricism can also be used as a gloss to cover over an unscientific belief system. ... One must harbor the suspicion that some psychoanalysts offer lip service to science as a way of maintaining traditional beliefs. The time has come to ask whether the core of psychoanalysis is supported by any data. If it is not, it should be replaced by a better theory. ... Using the same phrase as Rutter, Vaillant (1993, p. 4) argues for preserving the baby of psychoanalysis even as we discard its bath water. Yet after we remove all speculative elements from the theory, what will remain? The evidence does not yet provide an answer as to whether we will have a healthy baby to save once the bathwater is drained."
 
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Thank you! Interesting opinions.

Here is another experiment, or two, in support of a plurality in mind.

Vygotsky, like his compatriot Bakhtin, Derrida, and Freud (A note on the Mystic Writing Pad), holds that words in mind are silent speech and mean in the same way as spoken speech - through communication (not by calling chimerical "ideas" to mind). Vygotsky notes that children start out narrating their behaviour, and gradually over a period of years become silent, but keep narrating silently.

In order to test his theory regarding such narration, he found children in the stage where their "egocentric speech" is still audible and put them in a room full of children who did not speak the same language as they did. He found that after a short while, when they realised that no one at all was listening, they became silent much more quickly than in the process mentioned above. Vygotsky argues that this is because ordinarily children believe that someone is listening, and creating in their minds a interlocutor "helper." I think that Freud calls this the Superego (or uber-ichi "over I").

Vygotsky, L. S. (1986). Thought and Language. (A. Kozulin, Trans.). Cambride, Massachusetts: MIT Press. (around page 230 in my edition)

Bakhtin only mentions that which could be termed a thought experiment. First of all he rejects the chimerical ideas and language as calling ideas to mind interpretation of meaning and claims that meaning resides in communication. Then writes that if our meaning were only dependent upon our listeners then we would not understand ourselves when our listeners fail to understand. That would be hell, he writes. We are not in hell, and keep trying to make others understand even when we are surrounded by incomprehension. This is because we are always also talking off (to someone in the wings of our mental theater as it were) to a "super addressee" that understands our speech perfectly.
Bakhtin, M. M. (1986). Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. (V. W. McGee, Trans., C. Emerson & M. Holquist, Eds.) (Second Printing.). University of Texas
 
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Thank you! Interesting opinions.

Here is another experiment, or two, in support of a plurality in mind.

Thanks; your last comment was interesting as well.

Though after reading it I am inclined to ask "What about diagrammatic reasoning?"

Given everything you've cited, I imagine you may be familiar with biosemiotics. I've been reading some of the biosemiotics literature in the last couple of years and have found a lot to like: Howard Pattee, a pioneer whose papers were collected in Laws, Language and Life (2012); Thomas Sebeok and Marcel Danesi, The Forms of Meaning: Modeling Systems Theory and Semiotic Analysis (2000); George Terzis and Robert Arp (eds.), Information and Living Systems: Philosophical and Scientific Perspectives (2011); Liz Swan (ed.), Origins of Mind (2013); Sara Imari Walker et al. (eds.), From Matter to Life: Information and Causality (2017). For sure there is some overlap with Vygotsky's interests and insights, though with the advantage of another century of scientific advances that proceeded beyond only speech to a more general domain of information.
 
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Though after reading it I am inclined to ask "What about diagrammatic reasoning?"
Imagination -- thinking by calling images to mind -- is my shtick. But I am not sure I would call it "reasoning." I have never heard of biosesmiotics.

It seems to me that Japanese call images to mind. This means that they are not thinking for communication, as many post-decision making thinking theorists argue.
Takemoto, T., & Brinthaupt, T. M. (2017). We Imagine Therefore We Think: The Modality of Self and Thought in Japan and America. 山口経済学雑誌= Yamaguchi journal of economics, business administrations & laws, 66(1), 79-107. http://nihonbunka.com/docs/Takemoto_Brinthaupt.pdf

We argue, euphemistically, that thinking is about becoming emotionally involved in your own behaviour (auto-affection as Derrida puts it) that is motivating, and demotivating, depending upon how attractive our self-representations appear to our Other. We attempt to show that calling images to mind, and repressing their production, has a different and opposite effect to calling words to mind among North Americans.

It seems from comparison of horror in the West and Japan, that Western monsters appear after omens, signs, phone calls, writing on the wall, and turn their victims into screams, whereas Japanese monsters appear from scrolls, mirrors, television sets, photographic developer, and drag their victims into the image.

I am a bit wary of those that claim that we are semiotic (Westerners?) from the ground up, but I will have a look. It is clear to me that there is something sort of symbolic going on at a biological or precultural level. "Ancient" peoples the world over draw body parts like the ancient Egyptians, showing the most characteristic view (noses and feet sideways on, but torsos from the front). There is other research to suggest we characterize other people's faces. The fairly recent YouTube phenomenon of attractive faces turning ugly is I think one example of our mind characterizing, or making a symbol of the stimulus, this but there are other explanations.
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VT9i99D_9gI
 
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Imagination -- thinking by calling images to mind -- is my shtick. But I am not sure I would call it "reasoning." I have never heard of biosemiotics.

It seems to me that Japanese call images to mind. This means that they are not thinking for communication, as many post-decision making thinking theorists argue.

Well, we have to distinguish between types of graphics/images; there are taxonomies of types of graphics/images, and such taxonomies are a subset of more general taxonomies of types of signs (or information). Diagrams are a subset of graphics/images, and there are also taxonomies of types of diagrams. The range of types of diagrams alone (not even considering other types of graphics/images) is extraordinarily diverse, from graphs to algebraic expressions, and there are many people studying the various types of diagrammatic reasoning—there is at least one conference series dedicated to this: Diagrammatic Representation and Inference. I highly recommend the proceedings of that conference, if you want to learn more about diagrammatic reasoning.

A huge problem with the paper you mentioned above is that the taxonomy of signs (or information) in it is very primitive: basically just "image" and "talk". It appears that by "image" the authors mean "photographic image", since the instructions in one of the studies mention "scenes from movies". But people, and not only Japanese people, presumably think with many different types of signs, and many different types of graphics/images, not only photographic images. I presume this because I do it myself, and I am not Japanese, and I don't see how it would be likely that I would be unusual in this respect—I mean, unusual in thinking with many different types of signs—and because people produce many different types of signs, and I don't see how people could do that just by talking to themselves. I do not doubt that there is variation in how people think (and in their motives for thinking), but I suspect that that the variation is much greater than this paper's taxonomy and methodology can reveal. I am also skeptical of the literature review in the "Implications for the Nature of Thought" section of the paper. For example, it cites Libet's famous research, which is outdated; see, for example: John F. Kihlstrom (2017), "Time to lay the Libet experiment to rest: commentary on Papanicolaou (2017)", Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice, 4(3), 324–329. (This is the same Kihlstrom that I cited above, but a different paper.)
 
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I need to read some taxonomies in "Diagrammatic Representation and Inference ".
Thank you very much.

Thank you so much for reading, or skimming even, the paper which is mine. It is very primitive, I agree. This is partly because I have not read 1/50 of that which you have read.

I also feel t hat I am trying to overthrow a great weight of belief in reason / rationality, so I attempted to do write a summary of the various research that questioned the power of words-in-mind. I will have a look at Kihlstorm though
I am more interested in finding other brothers in arms - anti-rationalists.

The intro to this paper also breezes through the anti-rationalist or "Steam Whistle" literature, mentioning Libet.
Baumeister, R., Masicampo, E. J., & Vohs, K. (2011). Do Conscious Thoughts Cause Behavior? Annual Review of Psychology, 62, 331–361. https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/pdf/10.1146/annurev.psych.093008.131126

I know Libet is old and argued, but if he is relevant enough for Baumeister, he is relevant enough for me :)

But I see that Kihlstrom, while being a whisperer, also summarizes Whistle Hyposthesis ("brothers in arms") research

Thank you!

I also agree that I have been very rough-and-ready, and there is a whole lot more variation that I am skipping but, while I agree, I think that there is also a considerable movement or even consensus that there are phonemes in mind vs the rest. For example, in intercultural communication, the "High Context" sdvs. "Low Context" distinction of Edward T. Hall assumes that words are central and everything else is context/background and still holds sway. But what is central or "non contextual" about words?! Or the Analytic vs Holistic destinction of Masuda and Nisbett is again, I think, in fact a distinction between words (the only things that analyse) and, again, the whole, 'the rest' everything else. So while I agree entirely that I have broad-brushed-over vast variation, this brushing-over seems to me to exist in the ("WEIRD" "logocentric") academic consensus that we live in. Maybe.

Derrida is the doyen of the distinction that I am trying to make: logocentrism (word/phoneme in mind) vs everything else. For example, Derrida looks at
Plato's theory of writing (vs spoken words in mind)
Descartes "res cogitans" (stuff for thinking - words/phonemes in mind) "res exstensa" (everything else)
Searle/Austin Speech act theory between speech which is just descriptive and speech that is also an action such as "I promise," "I bet"
Husserl's sign typology between signs that express meaning, (words in mind) and signs that indicate, which are signs that do not express meaning but are interpreted to mean e.g. animal droppings in a forest that are interpreted by a hunter
(Perhaps it is possible to add)
Levi Stauss' (Sasurian/dual/modern) signs vs "savage thought" or "bons a penser" (things for thinking that are good for thinking).
Jackson's (1086) theory involving Mary where there are words for phenomena that Mary has seen such as "black" and words for phenomena that Mary has not seen such as "red."

In all cases Derrida claims that these philosophers are attempting to create a difference between the special hearing oneself speak signs vs the rest, which are inferior because, the hearing oneself speak / words-in-mind contain a duality, difference between the sign and its meaning. This attempt to create a difference is a trick, Derrida claims, since all signs, including words in mind have the inferiorness or lack ascribed to the inferior type of signs, and further (as Freud claims) words (phonemes) in mind, contain no inherent duality or difference (between sign and mean, signifier signifiied) only a deferral or "differance" between "hands"/roles in our mind, like a radio play in our mind, that take it in turns to write and then read and rub out the words in mind as described by Freud in "A Note on the Mystic Writing Pad". On the ("arche writing") pad of our mind, there is no duality, no difference between signifier and signifiied, only a differance between the time of writing and, the hidden, time of reading.

(Lately I have been thinking that the later may be "lead us not into temptation" / or "lead us not into the time of trial" mentioned in the Lords prayer!)

Likewise, Kihlstrom writes on page 326
"
Now let us imagine what must go on in the mind of a subject in a libet-type experiment,to which Libetus interruptus has been added.

"OK, there’s the start....Gotta relax, gotta watch the clock, gotta remember not to blink...Damn! Just blinked...OK,watch the clock...Now I’ve got toflick this finger sometime...Maybe now...Naah, noty et, maybe later...OK,soon...Now! Note the time[Flicks finger]. . . OK, now wait a while...Oh!Here’s the click! Gotta move...[Flick]. . . OK, let’s wait a while...Notyet...Soon...There’s another click![Flick]. . . That’s been a coupla flicks, I think I’ll take a break...Aaarrrghhh! Another damn click![Flick]. . . Gotta keep my ears open for that click and stay ready...No click for a while, maybe it’s time for me to do it on my own...Maybe. now...Naah, noty et, maybe later...OK,soon...Now! Note the time.[Flicks finger]. . . When’s this experiment going to be over?"

"
Here again there is the same sort of distinction, as made in my naff paper and the whole history of Western philosophy, appears to be being made: words in mind vs, "the rest" of mental contents in this case completely ignored .

As you point out there are a myriad types of visuals that mean (photographic, diagrams, indexes, icons, etc) but all these meaningful visual mental contents, and other mental contents in other modes (e.g. non word sounds, feelings, smells, tastes, touches, heats, [though I can only seem to bring sounds and visuals to mind]) have been completely omitted. The mind of the subject is described as containing words in mind only, plus, in the [brackets] actions that do not take place in mind. Kihlsrom also is creating (whereas I am attempting to deny) a distinction between words-in-mind and everything else.

Returning to the thread topic, Freud likewise posits a privileged position of words in mind. I see Freud as a theorist of Western culture, which imho he describes well: word obsessed.
 
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I also feel that I am trying to overthrow a great weight of belief in reason / rationality, so I attempted to do write a summary of the various research that questioned the power of words-in-mind. I will have a look at Kihlstorm though
I am more interested in finding other brothers in arms - anti-rationalists.

I think that having a predetermined anti-rationalist agenda is a mistake, a mistake that I've likely made in the past. You can also see how confirmation bias would be a problem: If you are interested in finding other anti-rationalists, you may ignore disconfirming evidence and arguments. At least you are self-conscious enough about your agenda to be able to admit it so that I can argue against it.

First let me agree that there is such a thing as wrong rationalism, which we could also call radical rationalism. In philosophy it is the idea that rigorous rationality—meaning, roughly, trying to reason correctly, that is, clearly and consistently, or what above I called trying to have 'just ideas' or 'right ideas'—is sufficient in itself or by itself. In psychology we could add to this philosophical idea of wrong rationalism the (wrong) idea that this kind of rigorous rationality always causes our behavior, if not when we are children then at least when we reach intellectual maturity. The biggest defeater of this wrong rationalism is, frankly, reality. Rigorous rationality is not sufficient in itself or by itself for understanding anything in the real world (versus an ideal world such as a formal system or a theory)—we need, in addition to rationality, at least observation and experimentation so that we can test our ideas against reality—and we don't always behave in a rational way, as is amply demonstrated by our everyday experience and by psychological research.

Still, despite this wrong or radical rationalism there is a more moderate or ordinary rationalism that is supported by our everyday experience and by psychological research. It is the idea that rigorous rationality is not sufficient for understanding the real world but it is useful for doing so, and even in some situations indispensable, and moreover it is a common achievement. As David Moshman put it, "rationality is a justifiable goal of education, not only because it is a means to worthwhile ends but because it is an important end in itself" (David Moshman, "Rationality as a goal of education", Educational Psychology Review, 2(4), 1990, 335–364). As Elliot Turiel put it: "reasoning is a hallmark of human functioning" (Elliot Turiel, "Snap judgment? Not so fast: thought, reasoning, and choice as psychological realities", Human Development, 53(3), 2010, 105–109).

I would count John Kihlstrom as a proponent of this moderate or ordinary rationalism (though as far as I know he hasn't used that term; the term is mine). He has denounced what he calls the "people are stupid" school of social psychology and "the automaticity juggernaut" in cognitive psychology. He is especially relevant in this discussion because of his extensive research on the reality of the unconscious mind while rejecting the Freudian model of it, but at the same time he does not discount or under-emphasize the importance of conscious and controlled mental processes.

Above I mentioned William M. Runyan's "Alternatives to psychoanalytic psychobiography", and psychobiography is relevant here too, or at least biography: How is it that researchers come to research what they have chosen to research? How is it that you came to an anti-rationalist agenda? (This is a rhetorical question: You don't have to answer it; I'm just musing on the relevance of psychobiography for psychological research, as Runyan later came to emphasize in his other papers after the one I mentioned.)
 
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Likewise, Kihlstrom writes on page 326
"
Now let us imagine what must go on in the mind of a subject in a libet-type experiment,to which Libetus interruptus has been added.

"OK, there’s the start....Gotta relax, gotta watch the clock, gotta remember not to blink...Damn! Just blinked...OK,watch the clock...Now I’ve got toflick this finger sometime...Maybe now...Naah, noty et, maybe later...OK,soon...Now! Note the time[Flicks finger]. . . OK, now wait a while...Oh!Here’s the click! Gotta move...[Flick]. . . OK, let’sw ait a while...Notyet...Soon...There’s another click![Flick]. . . That’s been a coupla flicks, I think I’ll take a break...Aaarrrghhh! Another damn click![Flick]. . . Gotta keep my ears open for that click and stay ready...No click for a while, maybe it’s time for me to do it on my own...Maybe. now...Naah, noty et, maybe later...OK,soon...Now! Note the time.[Flicks finger]. . . When’s this experiment going to be over?"

"
Here again there is the same sort of distinction, as made in my naff paper and the whole history of Western philosophy, appears to be being made: words in mind vs, in this case completely ignored "the rest" of mental contents.

As you point out there are a myriad types of visuals that mean (photographic, diagrams, ...indexes, icons, etc) but all these meaningful visual mental contents, and other mental contents in other modes (e.g. non word sounds, feelings) have been completely omitted. The mind of the subject is described as containing words in mind only, plus, in the [brackets] actions that do not take place in mind. Kihlsrom also is creating (whereas I am attempting to deny) a distinction between words-in-mind and everything else.

It looks like you updated your previous comment after I responded to it, so I will respond to this addition to your previous comment, since the comment that I responded to in my previous comment is not the comment that now exists above. There is no indication in this paper that Kihlstrom is saying that Libet's subjects are talking to themselves in the way you are implying. Kihlstrom is just translating "putatively a great deal of mental activity" or "internal noise" (which doesn't refer to speech, which he doesn't mention, but to neuronal activity) into English writing so that he can roughly describe that mental activity (mental contents) in a paper written in English. That's just what we have to do when we're communicating purely in written English, and fortunately the language is flexible enough that it often works well. Kihlstrom never says anything in the paper about inner speech or self-talk, unless I overlooked it. So I don't think this passage supports your claim that Kihlstrom ignored the rest of mental contents and is creating a distinction between words-in-mind and everything else. He's just translating mental contents, whatever they may be, into written English because that's the simplest way to describe it in a paper written in English. I think you are projecting your own obsession with word-obsession into Kihlstrom's paper.
 
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I am sorry I did not notice your posts. This forum allows us to edit our posts, using the submit button, without updating the forum, I think. I will be more careful should you be so kind as to reply in future.

I think that having a predetermined anti-rationalist agenda is a mistake

I wish I could say, with sincerity, "You may well be right," but due to that psychotic experience (or micro enlightenment) that I had 32 years ago, I think that alas, I am rather set in my anti-rationalist ways.

I found myself to be the hero of myself narrative, the fantasy of fantasy that a giant is having. I think that if I had stayed in the UK I would have gone quite around the bend, but I came to Japan where it seems to me that people are not ego invested in their self narrative. Indeed, as Kim's research
[Kim, H. S. (2002). We talk, therefore we think? A cultural analysis of the effect of talking on thinking. Journal of personality and social psychology, 83(4), 828.]
seems to show, narrative is something that gets in the way of Japanese action.

That said, I have read your posts, and some of the writing that you have referenced, and intend to read more of the latter, and also a lot of other rationalist writings, that seem to me to be in the majority.

I agree that rationality is insufficient in and of itself to cause behaviour (I am Humean in that regard -- the slave of the passions). I also agree that we generally (outside of psychosis, and to a lesser extent Japan) feel that our reason is causal is "supported by our everyday experience," though that experience deceive us. I believe with Moshman, that rationality may well now be a valuable objective of education, in my view for the reasons that Joan Robinson suggested we learn economics: "The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of ready-made answers to economic questions, but to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists.” (Contributions to Modern Economics, 1978). This is also the reason I read rationalists, though I do not think rationalists, any more than everyday experience, intentionally deceive. I don't however agree that rationality, or at least "listening to oneself speak" (Derrida) or "whispering" (The Quran-- I think that Algerian born Derrida may have been influenced) is "a hallmark of human functioning," (though this is often claimed, and I collect such claims, thank you) because the Japanese seem to be debilitated by being required to narrate, wherein they are free to reason about, their behaviour (Kim, ibid). I don't think that automaticity suggests that people are stupid.

I agree that Kihlstrom does not mention self-talk, and nor does Libet, but I think that his use of what would appear to be a self-narrative is not merely a translation, but a fairly accurate representation of consciousness, complete with the ellipses (pauses) and especially his choice of sexual metaphor "Libetus interruptus."

It seems to me that by narrating ourselves, we objectify ourselves which object we view from the point of view of another, and judge the attractiveness of our actions much as Adam Smith says
"
When I try to examine my own conduct, when I try to pass sentence upon it, and either to approve or condemn it, in all such cases, I divide myself, as it were, into two persons; and that I, the examiner and judge, represent a different character from that other I, the person whose conduct is examined into and judged of. The first is the spectator, whose sentiments with regard to my own conduct I try to enter into, by placing myself in his situation, and by considering how it would appear to me, when seen from that particular point of view. The second is the agent, the person whom I properly call myself, and of whose conduct, under the character of a spectator, I was trying to form some opinion. The first is the judge; the second the person judged of. But that the judge should, in every respect, be the same with the person judged of, is as impossible, as that the cause should, in every respect, be the same with the effect.
" Adapted from Adam Smith (1757) The Theory of Moral Sentiments

And by this artifice, we make our actions sexy, and this vastly increases our motivation for economic activity and purchasing things, and at those times when we think them unattractive, for interruptus: vetoing them.
 
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I found myself to be the hero of myself narrative, the fantasy of fantasy that a giant is having. I think that if I had stayed in the UK I would have gone quite around the bend, but I came to Japan where it seems to me that people are not ego invested in their self narrative. Indeed, as Kim's research [Kim, H. S. (2002). We talk, therefore we think? A cultural analysis of the effect of talking on thinking. Journal of personality and social psychology, 83(4), 828.] seems to show, narrative is something that gets in the way of Japanese action.

That said, I have read your posts, and some of the writing that you have referenced, and intend to read more of the latter, and also a lot of other rationalist writings, that seem to me to be in the majority.

I agree that rationality is insufficient in and of itself to cause behaviour (I am Humean in that regard -- the slave of the passions). I also agree that we generally (outside of psychosis, and to a lesser extent Japan) feel that our reason is causal is "supported by our everyday experience," though that experience deceive us. I believe with Moshman, that rationality may well now be a valuable objective of education, in my view for the reasons that Joan Robinson suggested we learn economics: "The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of ready-made answers to economic questions, but to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists.” (Contributions to Modern Economics, 1978). This is also the reason I read rationalists, though I do not think rationalists, any more than everyday experience, intentionally deceive. I don't however agree that rationality, or at least "listening to oneself speak" (Derrida) or "whispering" (The Quran-- I think that Algerian born Derrida may have been influenced) is "a hallmark of human functioning," (though this is often claimed, and I collect such claims, thank you) because the Japanese seem to be debilitated by being required to narrate, wherein they are free to reason about, their behaviour (Kim, ibid). I don't think that automaticity suggests that people are stupid.

I agree with much of what you wrote here. Starting with Japanese culture, about which you would know infinitely more than I do: As my quick reference to Dogen above hinted, I have been very influenced by Japanese Zen though participation in a Zen community that adheres closely to Japanese behavioral forms and material culture, as well as, of course, philosophy. It is an English-language community but authorized by the Sōtō-shū in Japan, and a number of Japanese Zen teachers have visited. Everything about it is less "ego invested" than what I encountered in my Western schooling. The lack of ego investment is explicit in the philosophy, of course, but also in more subtle ways in the behavioral forms that are taught. This has no doubt affected my own behavioral habits. But I think the reason why I was first attracted to Zen over 20 years ago was because to a great degree I already valued what Zen (and the aspects of Japanese culture that are transmitted along with it) values. The lack of emphasis in Zen on inner speech felt welcoming to me because all my life I felt that inner speech, and talking, was less important to me than it seemed to be to others (although as you can see I am not shy about writing, or about anything else visual). I may be an atypical Westerner in this respect. I will read more about this. But enough of my psychobiography.

I love that Joan Robinson quotation. Avoiding being deceived by others is certainly one of the uses of rationality—in those situations often called "critical thinking", of course. But—am I repeating myself?—reasoning and rationality shouldn't be identified only with words. Diagrammatic reasoning, and the increasing study of it, is evidence of that. David Moshman identified reasoning as "self-constrained thinking", and thinking as deliberately controlled inference. (See, for example: David Moshman, "Reasoning as self-constrained thinking", Human Development, 38(1), 1995, 53–64. And: David Moshman, "From inference to reasoning: the construction of rationality", Thinking & Reasoning, 10(2), 2004, 221–239.) Rationality thus conceived is just an increasing refinement of our body's natural inferential capacities. This happens in different ways in different individuals and populations. I have to admit, there is a long history of Western identification of reasoning with verbal discourse, and that bias is in English words such as logic, with its "logocentric" past, and Moshman himself may not entirely escape from this history. But times change; for example, while the word logic has a logocentric past, it's now being used with a much broader meaning: "Logic, the discipline that explores valid reasoning, does not need to be limited to a specific form of representation but should include any form as long as it allows us to draw sound conclusions from given information" (Amirouche Moktefi and Sun-Joo Shin (eds.), Visual Reasoning with Diagrams, Birkhäuser Verlag, 2013). Nowadays people even talk about "visual argumentation", for example: Jens E. Kjeldsen, "Pictorial argumentation in advertising: visual tropes and figures as a way of creating visual argumentation", in Frans Eemeren & Bart Garssen (eds.), Topical Themes in Argumentation Theory: Twenty Exploratory Studies (pp. 239–255), Springer, 2012. And: Jens E. Kjeldsen, "The rhetoric of thick representation: how pictures render the importance and strength of an argument salient", Argumentation, 29(2), 2015, 197–215.

I doubt that I have anything more to say about Freud here, so if our conversation is coming to a close I wish you all the best in the future, throughout the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.