Saturday, August 29, 2009

Evolving Utopia Part 20

Part 20: Mind

The need for conformity in language use provides the structure of the model of brain functioning we call "mind". We do not teach babies to speak, we leave it up to them to learn, because before they learn we have no way to communicate abstractions.
This causes considerable anxiety on the part of infant and parent: the parent is afraid that the non-speaking infant is not human, so that "baby's first word" is an occasion for relief and joy; the infant because it senses the anxiety and has to make the mental leap to recognizing that the noises its parents make have an abstract meaning.

It learns that it has to be very conformist to retain its parents' love, without which it won't survive. It grows a part of the mind that uses this fear to maintain conformity: what we call the Superego. We call the part of the mind devoted to language the Ego. The part of the mind that is like the other animals and is the whole mind for a pre-verbal infant, we call the Id.

The other popular models are Freud's, which uses concepts from pre-World-War-One Vienna, and Noam Chomsky's, which uses concepts from semantics. Neither model takes enough notice that we share much of our activities with other animals and need a part of the mind to do that. This is the Id and we couldn't live without it.

The Superego is conditioned by the circumstances to make us conformist, but circumstances in later life are going to require individuality. This conflict is called the "Oedipus Complex". Autonomy requires us to transcend this conflict.

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