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To Be or Knot to Be
Our other psychoanalytic interpreter of Hamlet , Jacques Lacan , did not publish his major collected works until the age of In a psychoanalytic battlefield on the question of Hamlet's madness, desire can be found only at great cost, at the most extreme limit of the self. Against the current cries of mental health professionals about the prevalence of acting out, disinhibition, dysregulation and the rest, Hamlet-style inhibition could not be more evident, four centuries after the play was written.
There is so much that we cannot allow ourselves to do. Benjamin gives a slightly bewildering reading of Hamlet in his wonderfully difficult book, The Origin of German Tragic Drama.
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The dialectical tension that, in ancient tragedy, constituted the public life of the city, becomes privatised and internalised inside Hamlet's skull, leaving him divided and paralysed. Hamlet is an anti-Oedipus. Given the horror that he knows, then why do anything? When she walks through your bedrooms carrying butcher knives you'll know the truth.
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But Herman Melville is our true hero. This was intended to be a bestselling, Gothic, sexy potboiler for the good wives of New England. We attempt to refrain from such complacent moralistic expatiation. Heminge and Condell , the editors of the Folio edition of Shakespeare's works, end their short preface with the exhortation "Reade him, therefore; and againe and againe. The way in which to undermine the ideological uses of Shakespeare and to retrieve his subversive potential is through nothing more than reading him.
For instance, to prove how easily we are swayed by peer pressure, she points to research showing teenagers are twice as likely to take up an option of changing the rating they give a song if they are shown the marks others have given. But a doubling from Hertz needs to heed a truth described by the neurophilosopher Patricia Churchland in Touching a Nerve. There are just very general bits of wisdom. On this view, there are certainly things we can learn from empirical psychology about decision-making but the best way to improve our own is simply to nurture habits of thoughtfulness and self-awareness.
Hamlet and the secrets of decision-making | Financial Times
It may come as a surprise to those who know Churchland by reputation alone to find her offering such homely wisdom. She and her husband Paul are widely caricatured as the worst exponents of scientific reductionism, allegedly eliminating all talk of the mind and reducing all human life to the brain. Hence the title of her new book, one of the most measured, reasonable and clear introductions to the current state of brain research and its implications for who and what we are.
Churchland never overstates her case or jumps to rash conclusions. She is particularly sharp on the question of free will. Critchley and Webster rather over-egg the familiar idea that if we were to stare reality in the face we would sink into a quietistic nihilism.
At the same time, they are clearly active, busy people themselves, yet we are not told if it is anything other than self-deception that enables them to overcome their professed pessimism. There is no discernible central argument or clear conclusion, only a series of related observations and often speculative suggestions.
Dealing with ignorance is critical for decision-making because nearly all important choices are made on the basis of imperfect knowledge, and that is anxiety-provoking. And in the end, it really does seem that the best platform from which to make good choices is the earthy ground.