Skip to main content

Blooming buzzing confusion

Image result for nicholas humphrey soul dust

Sensible proposition recently advanced by Nicholas Humphrey: for the first few months of life an infant possesses not one unitary self but several different sub-selves.

Native intelligence, memory, and the reception of sensory information. These seem to be the cores of the chief sub-selves Humphrey has in mind. Each has to learn that it is on the same team as the others, and ultimately each becomes a "faculty" of a single self.

This reminds me of William James' phrase "blooming buzzing confusion." The phrase refers especially to the confusion of the data of the different senses into one unhelpful congealed lump in the infant mind.  But part of the confusion may indeed by the absence of a single integrated self to do the integrating of the data. They aren't on the same team until they decide that they are on the same team.


Popular posts from this blog

Great Chain of Being

One of the points that Lovejoy makes in the book of that title I mentioned last week is the importance, in the Neo-Platonist conceptions and in the later development of the "chain of being" metaphor, of what he calls the principle of plenitude. This is the underlying notion that everything that can exist must exist, that creation would not be possible at all were it to leave gaps.

The value of this idea for a certain type of theodicy is clear enough.

This caused theological difficulties when these ideas were absorbed into Christianity.  I'll quote a bit of what Lovejoy has to say about those difficulties:

"For that conception, when taken over into Christianity, had to be accommodated to very different principles, drawn from other sources, which forbade its literal interpretation; to carry it through to what seemed to be its necessary implications was to be sure of falling into one theological pitfall or another."

The big pitfalls were: determinism on the on…

A Story About Coleridge

This is a quote from a memoir by Dorothy Wordsworth, reflecting on a trip she took with two famous poets, her brother, William Wordsworth, and their similarly gifted companion, Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

We sat upon a bench, placed for the sake of one of these views, whence we looked down upon the waterfall, and over the open country ... A lady and gentleman, more expeditious tourists than ourselves, came to the spot; they left us at the seat, and we found them again at another station above the Falls. Coleridge, who is always good-natured enough to enter into conversation with anybody whom he meets in his way, began to talk with the gentleman, who observed that it was a majestic waterfall. Coleridge was delighted with the accuracy of the epithet, particularly as he had been settling in his own mind the precise meaning of the words grand, majestic, sublime, etc., and had discussed the subject with William at some length the day before. “Yes, sir,” says Coleridge, “it is a majestic wate…