Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Jean-Paul Sartre (Imagination), Melanie Klein (Psychoanalysis) and Lewis Carroll ( a bit of both)

This week's homework for Thursday's  Philosophy for everyone  class concerns a reading on  Jean-Paul Sartre and Imagination and a research on Melanie Klein.

 Jean-Paul Sartre and Imagination

Jean-Paul Sartre (1905- 1980) is known as one of the leading figures in what's broadly termed existentialism.

Sartre was noted as being interested in the tension between authenticity and how one might become a cliché of oneself .

The article we were given to read from Philosophy Now was about Sartre and was titled Imagination and Creativity in Jean-Paul Sartre.

In Philosophy language is a live issue and although there's a danger in reducing discussions to linguistics I'm drawn to first find a definition, this time The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy was my source, which defines Imagination as:

"Most directly, the faculty of reviving or especially creating *images in the mind's eye. But more generally, the ability to create and rehearse possible situations, to combine knowledge in unusual ways, or to invent *thought experiments. *Coleridge was die first aesthetic theorist to distinguish die possibility of disciplined, creative use of the imagination, as opposed to the idle play of fancy. Imagination is involved in any flexible rehearsal of different approaches to a problem and is wrongly thought of as opposed to reason. It also bears an interesting relation to the process of deciding whether a projected scenario is genuinely possible. We seem able to imagine ourselves having been Napoleon, and unable to imagine space being spherical, yet further reflection may lead us to think that me first supposition is impossible and the second entirely possible.Most directly, the faculty of reviving or especially creating *images in the mind's eye. But more generally, the ability to create and rehearse possible situations, to combine knowledge in unusual ways, or to invent *thought experiments. *Coleridge was die first aesthetic theorist to distinguish die possibility of disciplined, creative use of the imagination, as opposed to the idle play of fancy. Imagination is involved in any flexible rehearsal of different approaches to a problem and is wrongly thought of as opposed to reason. It also bears an interesting relation to the process of deciding whether a projected scenario is genuinely possible. We seem able to imagine ourselves having been Napoleon, and unable to imagine space being spherical, yet further reflection may lead us to think that me first supposition is impossible and the second entirely possible."

Sartre  in The Psychology of Imagination (1940) looked at  Imagination as having two forms and there being a difference between creativity and imagination this might be seen as the difference between imagined objects say a chair and a created (unorthodox) object for relaxing in.

The book's aim is said to be to help us understand the human consciousness which is an interesting and challenging project.

There's an example given of a portrait of Peter that is both real, that is it's made up of materials with a frame, but it's also an imagined subject (Peter) to me though it might also demonstrate a 'creativity' that Sartre has posited.

The mention of being involved in repetitive work (say a stonemason working on a Cathedral construction but his work being a repetitive task) this creating something too is interesting.

Melanie Klein

The second suggested task for us was to research a leading figure in child Psychoanalysis, Melanie Klein.

It's possible to view Melanie Klein (1882-1960) as having had a  difficult life, she had an unhappy marriage, lost two siblings in her early life and a son later to a possible suicide.

Although she did not receive a formal education in her chosen field she rose to be a leading inspiration to many with her work on child development.

The supporters of  'school' her split from Anna Freud (Sigmund's daughter) - there were Anna supporters, Melanie supporters and a third mid way path between the two.

Klein was a Freudian (or believed herself to be one at least), and brought to the field Object relations  Theory ( broadly Infancy dictates how we behave as adults).

Klein was a proponent of the  'Death pulsation'  (we're drawn to an inorganic state/death)  of Freud extending it to  children.

Klein is popularised as a figure who characterised a child's relation with their mother as being ambivalent - seeing a mother as being the provider of sustenance from the breast and also the removal of same -there's a rather charming 'School of Life'  video here that reinforces this.


Lewis Carroll and Charles Dodgson (1832- 1898)


Strangely while I breakfasted this morning while perusing TV programmes in Event (MoS) magazine  I read a Craig Brown  review of a   biography of Lewis Carroll (Lewis Carroll:The man and his circle) - it seems that Lewis Carroll offers a real link between the interests of  Klein and Sartre.

Brown mentions a quote on Carroll attributed to the great literary critic William Empson.

 'To make the dream-story from which Wonderland was elaborated seem Freudian one has only to tell it'

Carroll it was who by day was an Anglican Reverend and tutor at Oxford University using his birth name Charles Dodgson  but he was also the imaginative writer (as Lewis Carroll) of the Alice in Wonderland books and an early photographer.

Where does his imagination and creativity come from?- A Freudian would point at his childhood and cite many examples in his children's literature - Sartre might make a different analysis.

[The leeks roasted in a vegetable 'stock' last night were to my mind delicious.]





Post a Comment