Models of Mind & Consciousness (UTQ Volume 79, Number 2, 2010)

Models of Mind & Consciousness (UTQ Volume 79, Number 2, 2010)

ISSN: 0042–0247
E-ISSN: 1712-5278
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Price: $25.00
Description
Theme Issues

Models of Mind & Consciousness (UTQ Volume 79, Number 2, 2010)

Guest edited by Marlene Goldman and Jill Matus

In Rewriting the Soul: Multiple Personality and the Sciences of Memory, philosopher of science – and recipient of the Holberg International Memorial Prize – Ian Hacking, makes the important point that fiction rather than medicine is often responsible for introducing new models of mind, consciousness, and altered states. As Hacking observes, E.T.W. Hoffmann’s works, Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Dostoyevsky’s The Double, and James Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, to name only a few, disseminated and entrenched ideas about the non-unitary mind, doubles, trance-states, and possession. ‘I make the strong point,’ Hacking writes, ‘that the whole language of many selves had been hammered out by generations of romantic poets and novelists great and small, and also in innumerable broadsheets and feuilletons too ephemeral for general knowledge today’ (232). Our understandings of hysteria, possession, and multiple personality, Hacking concludes, are the direct ‘consequence of how the literary imagination has formed the language in which we speak of people be they real or imagined’ (233). Hacking’s insights affirm what we the editors have recognized in our own work, namely, the profound role of novelists, poets, and dramatists, and of the humanities disciplines in general, in any period’s signature theories of mind and consciousness. Our interest in the roles played by writers and by humanities scholars in helping to construct and disseminate models of consciousness – and especially extraordinary states associated with overwhelming emotions, trauma, and trance – led us to host three symposia on these themes at the University of Toronto over the past three years. This special issue of UTQ is in large measure a collection of selected papers from these symposia. In offering the following brief summary of cultural and scientific approaches to hysteria and trauma, we are attempting not so much to map the field as to underscore the mutually dependent if not always acknowledged relationship between scientists and cultural theorists in their ongoing attempts to formulate and answer profound questions about the nature of consciousness. Our initial point of entry and the critical context for our research on the literary treatment of consciousness and its disturbed or unusual states were generated by scholarship from the late 1970s to the 1990s on hysteria and trauma by historians and cultural critics such as Ian Hacking, Carol Smith-Rosenberg, Elaine Showalter, … (from introduction by Marlene Goldman and Jill Matus)

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