Art and the Conscious Mind- Lecture 3

This lecture centred around the unity and rationality of the conscious mind. This below is a series of Litchenstein pieces based on a Monet masterpiece.

litchensteinLichtenstein Rouen catherdral Set V(centre) 1969

Is your experience of seeing the painting unified or multiple? This piece is a prime example in this discussion. Do you see the cathedral, or the dots or both. The same occurs to some extent in all forms of painting. Do you see the paint or the formation the paint takes.

Do you have one mind or many? Is your mind rational or irrational?

An interesting view on this is that “there is a vast difference between mind and body, in respect that body, from its nature, is always divisible, and that mind is entirely indivisible.” Descartes, 1912, pg.139

However there are many opposing views.

There is some evidence to show that the mind is divisible, well in the physical sense at least.

Split brain patients can develop multiple personalities.

There is a suggestion that this “sense of coherent self is really a fiction.” Dennett writes: “It does seem that we are all virtuoso novelists, who find ourselves engaged in all sorts of behavior, more or less unified, but sometimes dis unified, and we always put the ‘best faces‘ on it we can. We try to make all of our material cohere into a single good story. And that story is our autobiography… The chief fictional character at the center of that autobiography is one’s self.” Dennett, 1991, pg.114

This suggestion of our “best faces” is something I find interesting, are we all guilty of covering up the worst, or is this a necessity for a happy self.

Cognitive dissonance in some sense indicates how easily people are lead, are we as individual as we believe.

“When people hold conflicting beliefs they can’t reconcile, they’ll be forced to believe something even if they know its not true.” Leon Festinger, 1956

One of Jainism’s principal exponents Satkari Mookerjee describes the contradictory state of existence objects enjoy with the example of a pen:

“The pen is a pen only because it has an individuality which is not the individuality of the table. The pen is perceived as a pen and also as not-pen. The not-pen is an indefinite periphery of the pen.” (Mookerjee, 1978, pg.106)

rabbit or duckWhat do you see the rabbit or the duck?

How do we know we exist? We draw a line around ourselves to distinguish ourselves from the world, and each other.


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