Sunday, 11 December 2011

HCJ - Year 2 - Semester 1 - Revision notes Part 3 - Freud

Part 3 of my revision notes brings me to the latest lecture, and since there has been no previous blog from myself on the subject of existentialism, I will take a little longer to try my best to explain the subject.

Phenomenology is a branch of philosophy which deals with the subjective perception of things. So in easy language, phenomenology is things we can see, a table, a chair, a television. Husserl is a philosopher who believed that you have to 'want' to see things, and things are only there because we 'want' to see them:

The Duck-Rabbit - an image which can be seen as a duck or a rabbit, but you have to CHOOSE what you want to see, they are both not there at the same time, you choose one or the other. It is all about choice with Husserl.

Perception is something that is discussed highly amongst existentialist philosophers, and Kafka & Borges 'The Trial' optimises this. In the novel the main character wakes up as a cockroach, with all human feelings and senses, he feels normal, but to everyone else he is perceived as a cockroach. Pretty disgusting, but it is something I have kind of thought about for years. Are we all perceived differently by others, and are we different to what we think?

Heidegger is a philosopher that believed 'being is time', and that angst and fear is always looking forward in the future. We can link this back to Freud and his theory of ego/superego. The fear of 'next' is controlled by the superego, and the ego is the 'character armour' that protects us from this fear.

Time in Heidegger's mind - Past = Guilt/Shame Present = Dread Past = unknown


Husserl was a philosopher who observed and had theories about phenomena; what it was and how it was here. In the online lectures from the course site, it is explained about the link between Husserl and previous philosophers such as Hegel. Hegel believed in the phenomenology of spirit, and how God and his 'Geist' existed and how we perceived them. In a slightly different way, Husserl examined everything: emotions, objects etc. He believed that anything that was there, that you could think, feel, see, smell, hear was all phenomena, so for example, love and hate, fear, houses, trees, colours, these were all types of phenomena.

Husserl believed that there were two essential types of, there was type 'A', and type 'B'. A would be that of intention to use something, so if you had an intention to kick a ball, and then type B, which would be it actually being there. The example that is given in the online lecture is that of a clip from an episode of 'Only Fools and Horses', where Del Boy is in a pub, and he goes to lean up against the bar, not knowing that someone has lifted the hatch, meaning he falls straight through:


What we are seeing here is that Del Boy is expecting the bar to be there, and he is intending to use it to lean on, but the second it is not the we suddenly get the feeling that something is wrong in the universe, an that it isn't as it should be. We get the same feelings when we miss a step on the stairs, or something I usually do is not turn the light on at night when going down the stairs and thinking I still have a couple of stairs left, but really I am on the floor, expecting another step, all of a sudden you feel like something is wrong.

You can link this back to previous lectures with Freud, in that intention is key. Freud believed that we have thoughts in our mind at all time and that we may not even be aware of them at times, but a 'Freud Slip' would often expose these repressed thoughts. This then means that we have these thoughts in our head for a reason, they are definitely there, and it is these thoughts that give us the ability to perceive phenomena.

The problem that people like Husserl will come across is that of solipsism, the thought that is only you the single person exists in the world, and everyone else is a figment of our imagination. That we are living in a big dream, and nothing is real. This would reject the thought that anything actually exists as phenomena.

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