Self, Logic, and Figurative Thinking

Self, Logic, and Figurative Thinking

Harwood Fisher
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 368
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/fish14504
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  • Book Info
    Self, Logic, and Figurative Thinking
    Book Description:

    Harwood Fisher argues against neuroscientific and cognitive scientific explanations of mental states, for they fail to account for the gaps between actions in the brain, cognitive operations, linguistic mapping, and an individual's account of experience. Fisher probes a rich array of thought from the primitive and the dream to the artistic figure of speech, and extending to the scientific metaphor. He draws on first-person methodologies to restore the conscious self to a primary function in the generation of figurative thinking.

    How does the individual originate and organize terms and ideas? How can we differentiate between different types of thought and account for their origins? Fisher depicts the self as mediator between trope and logical form. Conversely, he explicates the creation and articulation of the self through interplay between logic and icon. Fisher explains how the "I" can step out of scripted roles. The self is neither a discursive agent of postmodern linguistics nor a socially determined entity. Rather, it is a historically situated, dynamically constituted place at the crossroads of conscious agency and unconscious actions and evolving contextual logics and figures.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-51866-6
    Subjects: Biological Sciences, Psychology, Linguistics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xx)
  4. Introduction: Major Terms, Their Classification, and Their Relation to the Book’s Objective
    (pp. 1-6)

    When a lover refers to his heart as my “foolish heart,” is he being poetic? Is he a pathological case? Suppose he appeals to it as if it had its own mind: “Take care, my foolish heart” (from the 1949 song by Ned Washington and Victor Young)? Has his thought degenerated to that of a madman? Is he just being childish? Has he slipped into a time warp and become like a person who lived long ago, before the human brain inhibited easy exchanges between fantastic projections of wishes and reality-checking propositional thoughts? In the song, the lyricist means to...

  5. 1 The Problem of Analogous Forms
    (pp. 7-29)

    How can you specify the differences in logical structure in forms embedded in meanings intended as figurative compared to those forms in which meanings are mired in the literal?

    It is not only songwriters seeking to inspire lovers who appeal to figurative thinking. The “hero” in Poe’s ([2000] 2008b) famous short story “The Tell-Tale Heart” murders a victim—but not before reporting he hears the sound of his victim’s heart. After he murders the fellow, he hears the sound again. He believes it to be that of the same heart beating. Most readers look at this belief as pathologically “literal.”...

  6. 2 Natural Logic, Categories, and the Individual
    (pp. 30-63)

    No one would deny the differences between the imaginary status of Don Quixote and the person stepping in front of you in Starbuck’s to declare, “I am Napoleon.” Nevertheless, the logic in the song line “I am I Don Quixote” appears the same as in “I am I Napoleon.” The logic of a trope can result in a Shakespeare, who writes about a king or a prince whom you experience as if he is a real person—and even as if he is you. The immature or unconscious logic, depending on how much it captures your thought, can result in...

  7. 3 Shift to Individual Categories, Dynamics, and a Psychological Look at Identity
    (pp. 64-103)

    It’s not enough to protest “I am not a robot” if a robot can utter the same protest. I have to show where the robot falls short, but also characterize the self in other terms. In the first portion of this chapter, I analyze the specific problems of settling for the received view as it would apply to explaining tropes as a particular mode of thought—figurative thinking. I use a thought experiment to explore the positive contributions, which an analysis of logical forms should provide.

    The “organism in its ecological surround” model does appear to be in the same...

  8. 4 Form Versus Function
    (pp. 104-120)

    In the Piagetian model of thinking, as in the Freudian, are dynamic drivers, such as the drive, need, or intention-based nature of logic (Piaget and Inhelder [1966] 1969). Piaget, like Werner, accounts for dynamic organization of thought in terms of the overall biological regulations of the organism. For Piaget, cognitive operations achieve successive states of equilibrium through reorganization (Flavell 1963). Adaptive cognitive balancing by resolution of negations unfolds choices in logical organization and leverage in the individual’s classifying. These choices, as I present them, are a function of the individual’s different levels of consciousness; they are textured by the different...

  9. 5 What Is the Difference Between the Logic Governing a Figure of Speech and the Logic That Is Immature or Unconscious?
    (pp. 121-143)

    The self by grace of the “I” is agile—creating and leaping over categories. To think figuratively, the self’s categorical nature has to mirror the same flexible lattice structures and structuring I have attributed to tropes. But I have also characterized unconscious and immature thought with the same descriptions of logical and paralogical forms! Can I unfold the relationships between the self and the trope and the functions of the self vis-à-vis the “I” as they may inform our understanding of conscious versus unconscious modes?

    A trope can be “ready made” and presented to a person. A says to B,...

  10. 6 What Are the Role and Function of the Self Vis-à-vis Consciousness?
    (pp. 144-174)

    I continue in this chapter to question how negation functions in the transformations of the dream vis-à-vis day logic. The perspective of time weaves in and out of these logical modes and the array of thinking governed by each. The problem of the negation of negation opens a wide array of different ways of thinking, and the fate of logical transformations in these ways of thought instructs us as to the requirements and the role of the “I” and the self. Ultimately, the self and its form, agency, powers, and logical function make the difference between figurative and nonfigurative thought...

  11. 7 Development in the Logic from Immature to Mature Modes Primitive and Primitivized Logical Forms, Motivation, and Reasoning
    (pp. 175-208)

    The “excitement of equality” is a key motivation in the vectors and scalars of the dynamic nature of categories and their logical forms. This notion is based in conceptions of unconscious “resonance”—an internal process bringing together a pleasure or sense experience and the reduction of drive. (See Robert S. Woodworth on the ideas of Claparède, Selz, and Duncker [1938:776–79].) Cognitively, this process seeks out and results in the resolution of negations. But if the resolution is overdone, the outcome can be ennui, and the pleasure can simply be “too much.” This key motivation and its potential boomerang in...

  12. 8 Pathological and Defensive Logical Forms
    (pp. 209-242)

    What would the organism be if not individual according to its own intrinsic judgment, but instead a momentary focus from the outside? It would be an individual not only who is defined by others, but also who defines himself and his perceptions by what others perceive. Like Polonius’s clouds to Polonius—or like Polonius to himself when he’s feeling fundamentally driven by what others want him to see and be.

    What if logical forms were not reflective of the developments of the self and its various compounded levels of awareness? The ordering of the categorial system and the capacity for...

  13. 9 The “I,” Identity, and the Part-Whole Resolutions
    (pp. 243-267)

    The power of creativity, especially its locus, is a major issue in the balance of the two forms of identity, logical/psychological and constituent. The creation of novel and new possibilities to supersede prevailing category systems logically favors a view of an “I” that can rise out of its superset slot by reflexively originating a new level of awareness. Look at several uses of the “I’s” possible positions as superset—namely, “I”₀, “I”₁, and “I”₂.

    If I (“I”₂) think about myself (“I”₁) thinking about a problem, I (“I”₂) can see what “sort” of thinking I’m (“I”₁) doing and perhaps change that...

  14. 10 The “I,” Entropy, and the Trope
    (pp. 268-308)

    Who, if she is a tension system, has a stable identity? What objects would attain stable intelligible meaning if tropes or their variants could describe them? The complication is that these forms are also tension systems! Picture the tropes or their logical forms as the tectonic plates supporting continents. The plates have their own inner tension and various external gravitational forces encouraging their movement. They jostle around and, in seeking Archimedian displacement and replacement of form and position, may break their wholeness as support structures. The continents (objects) move as if magnetized in planes above the plates. They are influenced...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 309-312)
  16. References
    (pp. 313-328)
  17. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 329-332)
  18. Index
    (pp. 333-348)