Reply To: Sense of self & the hemispheres

  • Whit Blauvelt

    August 4, 2023 at 3:11 pm

    Hi Mike,

    Yes, what you say is very much my own experience. I am wondering whether what we might call “McGilchrist’s syndrome” — the approximation of a schizophrenic mentality under cultural influences — may follow from specific shifts in encultured framings of “inner speech.” Freud of course, in The Ego and the Id, has his diagram of the left hemisphere wearing as a hat it’s facility with speech, which in his view establishes it as the seat of the ego.

    The notion that we should control ourselves with, or are controlled by, the “inner voice” goes back at least to Augustine. Yet there’s an absurdity in that notion, a positing of a homunculus, which was suspect long before Ryle. As an ancient Chinese philosopher said, “No self in self!” The corollary of this is “No other in self.” The framing in which one is either talking to or listening to oneself is unnecessary for verbally-enhanced consideration, which can generally be as well done in imagining prospective speech, rather than viewing it as present in some special way more real than the presence of, say, an imagined dragon.

    But the difference is we aren’t likely to view ourselves as under command of an imagined dragon, while we do often (in our current culture) view ourselves as if our will were resident in Freud’s hat of speech, nested atop the left hemisphere.