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Echoes and Mirrors» Blog Archive » This may be unclear, but I’ll muddle through it

This may be unclear, but I’ll muddle through it

Psychology is one of those bizarre soft sciences that uses qualitative and quantitative empirical data to study how the brain works. Freud has been more or less dismissed in the field outside of setting historical precedents – although he is widely studied in other fields, namely literary studies and sociology.

Philosophy can study any discipline in the abstract. The philosophy of history is a quirky, engaging field of study. Karl Marx did it well (all the political stuff aside) but it seems to have fallen to the wayside. The philosophy of science is often ignored or worse, lumped in with ontology. The philosophy of psychology?

Psychology is using empirical data to crush a posteriori knowledge by showing that our experiences are indeed, corrupt and untrustworthy:

These illusions are not only fascinating to observe and experience, they also tell us a great deal about how our perceptual system functions. We receive so many inputs from the environment that the brain must prioritize which inputs to trust. Illusions represent the boundaries between conflicting inputs to the perceptual system, and by uncovering them—and often explaining them on their blogs—researchers can also uncover how the brain itself works.

Worse yet for those who trust everything around them:

The relevance of these findings to the déjà vu effect were highlighted by post-test questioning of the participants, in which 50 per cent of them reported having experienced déjà vu during the study and 79 per cent said they’d sometimes been confused about whether or not they’d seen a symbol before.

The researchers said their experimental paradigm was analogous to a person glancing fleetingly at an unfamiliar street scene, being distracted by a poster in a window, before returning their gaze to the street and experiencing a strange sense of having been there before. The experiment provides “a possible mechanism for common illusions of false recognition,” they concluded.

Which begs the question: is thought a a product of our senses, or are our senses rationalized by our thoughts? Which is an unclear question, shite. How about this: can a priori reasoning occur via abiogenesis?

I think that in Cartesian dualism, this is possible, but not in materialism. In dualism, the mind (or soul, or whatever) is a separate entity from the brain and transcends the flesh. In materialism, the brain is the product of its input – it evolves thought from its environment. Psychology seems to be pushing towards the latter – a frightening proposition for those who find the idea of the mind to be nothing more than an extremely complex machine unpleasant (or worse, heretical).

Cognitive psychology is fascinating.

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