Any philosophers around?

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Any philosophers around?

Postby C » Tue Nov 06, 2007 7:44 pm

I've been set an essay for my psychological research module at Uni that I'm finding it hard to get into at the moment. We have to choose a tutor for this module and answer four essay's throughout the year on topics they set. I was really hoping to get into a group where the tutor lady researches autistic spectrum disorders as her essay questions are all based on autism (duh!) However I didn't get this choice so in the end I settled for a man who does topics such as language, non verbal communication and gestures, children's linguistic development and autism. I thought this sounded really interesting but his essay he has set us is really philosophical! There's an article he's given us to read about Dennett's ideo of 'self' and we've got to find other research ourselves to compare it with! The actual title is

Critically evaluate Dennett's view of the self in relation to at least one piece of empirical work on the social development of what we call self

I thought I liked philosophy but obviously not!!! I'm really struggling to find any articles to compare with. I usually have no problem with Uni work as psychology interests me so much I hyperfocus on it but not this time! I have a lab report due in that day as well, arhg! We've had two tutor meetings so far and both times the tutor has expected us all to contribute to group discussions. Whenever he asks me questions, my brain freezes and it feels like he asks me them all the time lol!

Anway, anyone a philosopher and have any ideas (cough, Vicky, cough!)
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Postby parnassus » Thu Nov 08, 2007 2:17 pm

I'm unsure how to proceed here, as I'm not familiar with any empirical work on the social development of the self. The only thing that occurs to me when I think of self in this context is the maxim of the philosopher Descartes: "Cogito ergo sum." I think, therefore I am. You could take this further and look at the way thought shapes identity - especially as there are such different ways of thinking. (Candy, for example, thinks entirely in 'pictures, concepts, and ideas without words'; whereas I have an extremely weak visual memory and recall my parents' faces with great difficulty.) It would be useful to read some Descartes and bring him into your essay at some pont, as Dennett's theory of self is all about narrative - and what is thought but a species of narrative?

In literary terms, we call the ongoing narrative inside a person's head 'stream of consciousness'. All of Virginia Woolf's novels make use of this technique -she writes in a scattered way, replicating the natural flow of a person's thoughts rather than the coherent narrative structure that we are familiar with. That, too, would be an interesting avenue to explore.

However, I have no idea whether this is what the question is requiring. I don't have the necessary scientific knowledge for it. I can't bring in empirical studies as I don't know any. But I hopes this helps. Let me know how it goes - it sounds like a really interesting essay topic. :)
"This above all, to thine own self be true." - Polonius, Hamlet.
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Postby C » Mon Dec 10, 2007 10:11 pm

Thanks for your comments Vicky. Have now received my essay back - I got a B2 so am very happy! But, curiously, my tutor wrote that I had failed to understand the point of the essay. I got the wrong end of the stick and contrasted Dennett's theory with othjer theories I had heard of when what he wanted me to do was evaluate according to research like method etc. carried out or something. BUT he said I had a 'gift for picking out key information', hence the high grade! Very happy because, technically, having not answered the question properly the highest I should get is a D3!!! But anyway, it's over now and my next essay is about psychosis and autism, a lot more interesting!
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Postby Cartouche » Tue Dec 11, 2007 6:18 pm

Well done :)

I hate abstract philosophy. Logic is great fun, but theory just ties me up in knots...
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