A blog about problems in the field of psychology and attempts to fix them.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Railway Man - Highlights of Holt's writing

I'm reviewing materials in preparation for an ENSO (Enactive Seminars Online) session on 3/3/16. This is one of the most important sections of The Freudian Wish (Holt, 1915). Something well worth meditating upon:
Let us consider, then, the higher forms of behavior, in human beings, and the question of consciousness and thought.

If one sees a man enter a railway station, purchase a ticket, and then pass out and climb on to a  train, one feels that it is clear enough what the man is doing, but it would be far more interesting to know what he is thinking. One sees clearly that he is taking a train, but one cannot see his thoughts or his intentions and these contain the 'secret' of his actions. And thus we come to say that the conscious or subjective is a peculiar realm, private to the individual, and open only to his introspection. It is apart from the world of objective fact. Suppose, now, one were to apply the same line of reasoning to an event of inanimate nature. At dawn the sun rises above the eastern ridge of hills. This is the plain fact, and it is not of itself too interesting. But what is the ‘secret’ behind such an occurrence?  "Why this is, as everybody knows, that the sun is the god Helios who every morning drives his chariot up out of the East, and he has some magnificent purpose in mind. We cannot tell just what it is because his thoughts and purposes are subjective and not open to our observation. We suspect, however, that he is paying court to Ceres, and so cheers on by his presence the growing crops."