An Angler by Tarsila do Amaral mid 1920s. Oil on canvas.
Accordingly, the most popular answer to this question is that the belief formed in self-deception is caused by an intention to form that belief. On this view, the state of self-deception is taken to be a calculated outcome involving a person’s intentional manipulation of her own thoughts. I argue that this answer is false and forms an impediment towards making sense of self-deception. I show that, contrary to philosophical prejudice, emotions and desires exert vast and systematic effects on the formation of beliefs. In this, and other, sections of the article, the results of experimental work are brought forward. Self-deception is portrayed here as resembling numerous instances of belief formation which are regularly affected by motivational factors. I argue that self-deceptive beliefs are direct expressions of the subject’s wishes, fears and hopes. Qua beliefs which mostly correspond to such factors (rather than to evidence), self-deceptive states are a kind of fantasy.
To paraphrase Woody Allen we can prove that we do deceive ourselves because to deny that we do is an example of self-deception. A circular argument, but there is some truth to it. The problem is digging for that truth outside the circle using the tools of philosophy. Allen has adopted something of the example based approach – the spouse on the Today Show that inevitably says that yea looking back I should have known he/she was cheating – I guess I just did not want to admit it to myself. The other approach seems to me to be semantic shadow of the first – the empirical approach. Putting together a portfolio of instances of self-deception finding enough in common among them to create a list of behaviors that form common symptoms of self-deception. In this paper PROSPECTS FOR AN INTENTIONALIST THEORY OF SELF-DECEPTION, Kevin Lynch attempts to parse out the prospects for the more empirical lexicon view and quotes the philosopher Mele’s definition of what that might entail “What it means for someone to deceive himself is for him to do the same thing to himself that he does to another when he deceives another.” Lynch takes us through the evidence than comes to a conclusion that gets at the root of the problem of qualifying self-deception using philosophical methods. A conclusion that many of us might have thought of immediately. Most likely it’s a psychological problem that must have a foundation of behavioral studies before proceeding with the philosophy of self-deception. A clinical psychologist who has some philosophy training might be the ticket to a firmer foundation of understanding and defining self deception.
This anecdote is one of many relayed in R. Douglas Fields’s new book The Other Brain, whose title refers to the fact that glia—Latin for “glue,” because scientists had assumed the cells simply held neurons together and nourished them—have historically been an afterthought in scientists’ minds. Now Fields, a neuroscientist and senior investigator at the National Institutes of Health (and a member of Scientific American Mind’s board of advisers), is convinced that a glial revolution is under way. Thanks in part to his own research, glia are now being uncovered as critical players in brain development, learning, memory, aging and diseases, including schizophrenia, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease.
According to Fields, glia are like a tortoise to the neuron’s hare: they do not communicate via flashy, linear electrical impulses like nerves do but instead send messages slowly using chemicals that can diffuse broadly throughout the brain….
If there is a glia cell revolution underway we can thank Einstein for donating his brain to science and to biologist Marian Diamond at the University of California, Berkeley. She was one of the scientists who had the good fortune to be able to study Einstein’s brain and discover the very large proportion of glia cells present.
One of the most challenging aspects of modern times is over coming the sociological phenomenon where lies repeated often enough move up the mainstream scale. Occupying the spaces that range from plausible to swallowed whole without critical thinking or research. After nearly a year of pants on fire lies and distortions it is little wonder people in polls express such eye rolling beliefs. The bogus Republican claim that Obamacare is a government takeover of one-sixth of the economy.
No special reason for the portraits. just have not put up any for a while and there are a few visitors that like them.
A week ago, I blogged about MTV’s Real World program and how it is almost a microcosm of society insofar as participants are banned from using marijuana and end up consuming copious amounts of alcohol instead. This excessive alcohol use, both on the show and in the real real world, repeatedly leads to acts of violence and other offensive and/or dangerous acts. Yet our laws – and the rules on the Real World – continue to steer people away from marijuana and toward alcohol, which is clearly a more dangerous drug.
The writer goes on to wonder if Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would have acted so rowdy ( we do not know if he is guilty of the alleged offenses yet) if he had smoked a joint and chilled rather than consuming large amounts of booze. let’s pretend we’re all adult for minute. We know that humans have been using substances ranging from peyote to wine to opium to marijuana for thousands of years. We show no signs of being a completely mind altering substance free society. The best we can hope for is less bad behavior on the part of those that indulge. Many people who get drunk engage in behaviors ranging from very poor judgment to violent behavior – alcohol seems to remove a person’s moral inhibitions much more effectively than pot. Wouldn’t decriminalizing pot be a step toward better outcomes in the inevitable forays into getting high to have fun.