research project on
logic & the unconscious mind
mlag, Institute of Philosophy, University of Porto
Rationality and logic – and irrationality and illogicality – are commonly believed to go hand in hand, but this is more often than not left unexplained. This is particularly so with respect to the possible relations between logic and the unconscious mind. Modern logic and a scientific interest in unconscious mentation have emerged roughly at the same time (end of the 19th century), but the two fields have seldom met; now that they are ‘ripe,’ having undergone tremendous developments in the last century, it is perhaps time to start investigating on how they might bear on each other. Can we better understand unconscious mental processes by appealing to modern symbolic logic, whether classical or non-classical? Can theories and results in unconscious mentation help us to tackle standing problems in contemporary logic? These are the open questions motivating our research and we do not yet know exactly how to address them, at both a theoretical and a methodological level. But (almost) absolute beginners that we are with respect to this investigation, we suspect that focusing on some topics might help us start in the right direction:
· unconscious processing of meaning
· structure of unconscious knowledge
· abnormal mentation (formal thought disorder in schizophrenia, delusions, etc.)
· unconscious reasoning and decision making
· Freudian-logical theories of the unconscious: Lacan; Matte-Blanco
· non-classical logics and ‘non-classical’ set theories
In particular, logical negation, both at the syntactic and semantic levels, promises to shed light on unconscious mentation, whether abnormal (e.g., delusional beliefs and impossibility; collapse of the principles of contradiction and excluded middle in psychotic thinking; etc.) or normal (e.g., negation in decision-making processes; etc.), and an emphasis on this unifying topic is expected to develop at some point in the course of the project.
In light of the above, this project is to be – at least at an initial stage – an exploratory investigation of both methods and theories. Some members have already initiated work in the logic-unconscious_mind interface; others are interested in exploring ways to associate their own research with some of the topics above. At such an embryonic stage, an a priori pruning of theories and methods does not appear to be the right option, and contributions stem from both philosophical and mathematical logic, as well as from both cognitive and dynamic viewpoints on unconscious mentation.
The project is open-ended, flexible, and overall informal. It is currently hosted by mlag (mind, language, and action group) in the Institute of Philosophy in the Faculty of Letters of the University of Porto, where its coordinator, Luís M. Augusto, is a researcher. Funding for possible events (e.g., meetings) will be sought if and when appropriate.