The Paradox of Reflection

– Reflection is an odd thing
– A had an odd thought today, whether I am in the wrong major
– Philosophy may not be the best course for learning about the mind
– It hinges a great deal on how we view reflection, does it not?
– Well, it also depends on our model of the mind —
– We are perhaps not all that different from animals, which would mean that straight out neurology would be a far more useful discipline in many ways
– Our difference from animals, in fact, hinges on our (supposed) ability to “create new worlds”
– well, not so much via the imagination, but rather, have all these faculties, be swayed by things that animals are not —
– to be swayed, for example, by reason, or to commit to something, to take on these roles
– and in fact I don’t speak here about technical skill but rather something like faith or honesty — to be genuinely changed, in some way —
– a thought which excludes nihilism, as that is purely technical
– another way to define this is to say that what makes us human is how easily or readily we can be programmed — which is not a bad thing —
– Maybe I’ve never felt more human then when I was reading Kant, years ago, and all that about the “faculties” — such as the moral faculty —
– considerations which are not, in fact, natural, nor logical, but something that we would by necessity have to take up …

– But — to summarize, we are wondering about the relationship between philosophy and reflection, and we are thinking about the sort of “programming” that makes us human, human reprogrammabiilty
– a reprogramming which is not as deep as brainwashing — if that even exists — and yet not merely nihilism, which we relate to technics
– in fact, isn’t this precisely reflection? I mean, isn’t this programming precisely our ability to reflect?
– I mean, we are programmed by the extent of our reflective “powers”
– well, keeping in mind 2 things:
– first, that these “powers” should not be understood as a genuinely new faculty, but rather, a kind of new narrative space opening up
– and second, that reflection, though it feels positive, I suspect, is primarily a negative — in the sense of critical — moment
– … indeed, I think about reflection at the very same time that I wonder about the role of philosophy, the future of philosophy, and its role in knowing the mind.

– Let’s just say a few words about Bartleby, in particular, about Bartleby being in the midst of something and also being after (in the temporal sense) something
– 1) Bartleby is in a state of vanishing, of fading away —
– We know that he does less and less, or that he is slowly wasting away, that he starves to death, etc.
– I think one of the paradoxes of Bartleby is that he is somehow becoming more human, if that’s a good thing, during this process
– especially in comparison to the “cartoon characters” that occupy the office
– 2) Bartleby is already living in a world of death, or a world of death in life
– a world, that is, where being human is already well established, where a certain mode of reflection — if that is what it means to be human — already dominates

– I am tempted, right now, to consider these two components as part of a single process:
– that the vanishing of Bartleby is the formation of a new subconscious
– while the city of death in which Bartleby lives, where the human is already established, is a world in which Bartleby intervenes
– but not by establishing some new subconscious, but rather, by … analyzing it, in a sense…


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