What’s the latest scientific insight about unconscious beliefs, desires, and motivations? Do contemporary experimental psychologists do any better than Freud? Could anyone do worse? On this week’s show we’re asking: What has replaced Freud?
Covid has not only infected our waking lives, it has seeped into our sleeping lives as well. Researchers report that there has been an apparent increase in vivid, powerful and disturbing dreams. This heightened awareness provides a wonderful opportunity to fulfill the ancient injunction to “Know thyself!”
It’s tempting to imagine that self-knowledge is easy to come by. All you have to do is introspect. The idea is that the mind is kind of like a clear glass fishbowl. If you want to know what’s going on, all you’ve got to do is take a look. But there are problems with this idea.
In this installment of my series on Freud as a philosopher, I explain how Freud arrived at the view that mental states are brain states, that mental processes are unconscious, that we have only indirect access to our own minds, and that introspection is an inadequate tool for exploring the mind.
Most of Freud’s contemporaries believed that the human mind was all conscious. Historians of ideas who write about the development of psychology often get Freud's original contribution wrong because they don’t attend carefully enough to what was meant by terms like “subconscious mind” and “unconscious states.”