Home / News
1. LECTURE I. RECENT CRITICISMS OF "CONSCIOUSNESS" (continued)
* Cf. Hart, "The Psychology of Insanity," p. 19.
The interpretation of unconscious wishes which I have been advocating has been set forth briefly by Professor John B. Watson in an article called "The Psychology of Wish Fulfilment," which appeared in "The Scientific Monthly" in November, 1916. Two quotations will serve to show his point of view:
"The Freudians (he says) have made more or less of a 'metaphysical entity' out of the censor. They suppose that when wishes are repressed they are repressed into the 'unconscious,' and that this mysterious censor stands at the trapdoor lying between the conscious and the unconscious. Many of us do not believe in a world of the unconscious (a few of us even have grave doubts about the usefulness of the term consciousness), hence we try to explain censorship along ordinary biological lines. We believe that one group of habits can 'down' another group of habits--or instincts. In this case our ordinary system of habits--those which we call expressive of our 'real selves'-- inhibit or quench (keep inactive or partially inactive) those habits and instinctive tendencies which belong largely in the past"(p. 483).
Again, after speaking of the frustration of some impulses which is involved in acquiring the habits of a civilized adult, he continues:
"It is among these frustrated impulses that I would find the biological basis of the unfulfilled wish. Such 'wishes' need never have been 'conscious,' and NEED NEVER HAVE BEEN SUPPRESSED INTO FREUD'S REALM OF THE UNCONSCIOUS. It may be inferred from this that there is no particular reason for applying the term 'wish' to such tendencies"(p. 485).
One of the merits of the general analysis of mind which we shall be concerned with in the following lectures is that it removes the atmosphere of mystery from the phenomena brought to light by the psycho-analysts. Mystery is delightful, but unscientific, since it depends upon ignorance. Man has developed out of the animals, and there is no serious gap between him and the amoeba. Something closely analogous to knowledge and desire, as regards its effects on behaviour, exists among animals, even where what we call "consciousness" is hard to believe in; something equally analogous exists in ourselves in cases where no trace of "consciousness" can be found. It is therefore natural to suppose that, what ever may be the correct definition of "consciousness," "consciousness" is not the essence of life or mind. In the following lectures, accordingly, this term will disappear until we have dealt with words, when it will re-emerge as mainly a trivial and unimportant outcome of linguistic habits.
This is page 28 of 220. [Marked]
This title is on Your Bookshelf.
Buy a copy of The Analysis of Mind at Amazon.com
Customize text appearance:
(c) 2003-2012 LiteraturePage.com and Michael Moncur.
For information about public domain texts appearing here, read the copyright information and disclaimer.