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Abstract: _Raritan: A Quarterly Review_ , IX, 68-98, Summer 1989. Reprinted (with footnotes), _Occasional Paper #8_ , Center on Violence and Human Survival, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York, 1991; Daniel Kolak and R. Martin, eds., _Self & Identity: Contemporary Philosophical Issues_ , Macmillan, 1991
Abstract: A striking feature of post-modernism is its distrust of the subject. If the modern period, beginning with Descartes, sought in the subject a source of certainty, an Archimedian point from which all else could be derived, post- modernism has taken the opposite tack. Rather than taking the self as a foundation, it has seen it as founded, as dependent on the accidents which situate consciousness in the world. The same holds for the unity of the subject. Modernity, in its search for a single foundation, held the subject to be an indissoluble unity. Post-modernism’s position, by contrast, is announced by Nietzsche: “The assumption of one single subject is perhaps unnecessary; perhaps it is just as permissible to assume a multiplicity of subjects, whose interaction and struggle is the basis of our thought and our consciousness in general? ...My hypotheses: The subject as multiplicity.” Given this, there is a natural correspondence between the success of post- modernism and the current interest in multiple personality disorder. In the latter, we actually have the experience of a “multiplicity of subjects” in their interaction and struggle. The subject stands there before us “as multiplicity.” It gives us a concrete case, one which raises some of the pressing questions associated with the post-modern denial of the subject. Confronting it, we ask: how real are the personalities composing the multiplicity of this disordered self? What, in fact, does this multiplicity tell us about the self? about its genesis and status? What does it reveal about “our thought and consciousness in general”? I plan, in the short compass of this paper, to sketch some answers to these questions. §1. A brief description of MPD. The American Psychiatric Association gives two criteria for (MPD) multiple personality disorder. First, and most obviously, there is “the existence within the person of two or more distinct personalities or personality states (each with its own relatively enduring pattern
Abstract: Perhaps we should begin with this question: What is the “problem of free will”? Like those other great “problem” phrases that philosophers bandy about, “the mind-body problem,” “the problem of universals,” and “the problem of evil,” this phrase has no clear referent. There are obviously a lot of philosophical problems about free will, but which of them, or which combination of them, is the problem of free will? I will propose an answer to this question, but this proposal can be no more than just that, a proposal. I propose that we understand the problem of free will to be the following problem
Abstract: Multiple-personality disorder is just what it sounds like: a clinical psychiatric condition whose sufferers exhibit more than one apparent personality in a single body. Some therapists claim over a hundred personalities in one body, which may present themselves as differing from the body in age, appearance, sex, language and even species. (Some therapists claim to have uncovered vegetable and even inanimate personalities.) I have tried to use language as neutral about this as possible, since there is a great deal of controversy about what, exactly, is going on in these lunatics, and even what they should be called. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, that judicious compromise between clinical knowledge, professional politics and random social prejudice, in the new fourth edition has eliminated "multiple personality disorder" and put "dissociative identity disorder" in its place. The popular name is still "schizophrenia," but that properly belongs to another mental disorder altogether, and one with, ironically, a much firmer grip in reality. William Calvin has suggested that these states be called "chimeric," which would make the patients chimerae (sing. chimera). I like this, and will try using it here