Consciousness as a science

existentialism, Psychology, Spirituality

What is mind? No matter!
What is matter? Never mind!

Professor Ashok Sharma feels that science fails to understand consciousness as an independent entity. He says, “Science cannot integrate a non-physical entity, like consciousness, into its conceptual framework, and views human personality as a non-conscious physical system.” Consciousness, according to Prof Sharma, is a non-physical entity, which is essentially different from the four basic entities of space, time, energy and matter of the conventional science. Consciousness does not have any physical attribute or property or action.
“There is an urgent need to reinterpret the Vedic texts in modern terms – a task which is now possible with the availability of computers and the recent developments in the fields of cognitive sciences, artificial intelligence and theories of knowledge representation”, says Prof Sharma

20121121-002741.jpg

Prior to the age of reason, mysticism and revelation served as the primary source of knowledge and wisdom in the western world. With the advent of the Enlightenment, however, a schism would emerge between the comprehension of physical realities through religious thinking and the drive to understand the material universe through empirical reasoning. Though the tension between these contrasting approaches has taken on many different forms since then, it has essentially continued to this day.
One of the barriers to reconciling these dichotomous positions has been the relative lack of reliable scientific data to explain the nature of the “self” and the phenomenon of consciousness. Where, for instance, does the “self” originate? Does our consciousness have an objective reality, or is it purely an epiphenomenon of our neurobiological processes? And is it indeed plausible to speak of an atemporal, nonlocalized mind that exists independently of the physical body?

While Buddhism has a rich contemplative tradition for the first-person exploration of states of consciousness, it never developed the sciences of the brain and behavior that we have in the modern West. So the integration of the first-person methodologies of Buddhism with the third-person methodologies of the cognitive sciences may lead to a richer understanding of consciousness than either Buddhist or Western civilization has discovered on its own.

http://www.danielbor.com/author/danielbor/

‘It is easy to view consciousness as a kind of magic, either in the name of religion and souls, or by how alien it at first appears to science. But many fields, such as the study of life many years ago, have their popular magical states eroded by careful scientific study. I will be robustly arguing here that consciousness is in the midst of a similar revolution.’
Consciousness is in many ways the most important question remaining for science, says Daniel Bor. he continues, ‘Whether I’m revelling in a glowing pleasure or even if I’m enduring a sharp sadness, I always sense that behind everything there is the privilege and passion of experience. Our consciousness is the essence of who we perceive ourselves to be. It is the citadel for our senses, the melting pot of thoughts, the welcoming home for every emotion that pricks or placates us. For us, consciousness simply is the currency of life. Although some philosophers and scientists suspect that consciousness is a pointless side effect of thought, I believe the opposite, that our consciousness might indeed be responsible for our greatest intellectual achievements, both in the arts and sciences. Whether our creativity and insight originates in our unconscious mind or not (I believe that the role of the unconscious has been over-estimated here), at the very least, our consciousness is the conduit to inspect these gems of inspiration, and the driving force for turning them into reality.

20121121-220541.jpg

‘I happen to believe that it is only a matter of time before we generate real consciousness in computer form, and if we assume that a mouse, say, is conscious, then I think so will computers be within 10 or so years. Human consciousness may take far longer to artificially manufacture, but this is merely an engineering issue, rather than something that is in principle impossible in any being that isn’t a human with its biological brain. Most of us, I think, share this intuition at times.’

20121130-190441.jpg

20121130-190450.jpg

The only instrument humanity has ever had for directly observing the mind is the mind itself, so that must be the instrument to be refined.

‘Characters like Data in Star Trek, or the replicants in the film Bladerunner, are utterly believable as robots with human-like consciousness. And both these characters help us explore the difficult future ethical decisions we may face surrounding beings we manufacture, who may match us in awareness, intelligence and possibly also the capacity to suffer
Will science be able to come up with some consciousness meter that works not only on other animals, but even other robots as well?’

‘Strangely, although many of us have no problem believing that Data is conscious, we carry conflicting beliefs that our own awareness is quite different to the biological computer in our own heads, even though many neuroscientists (including me) cold-heartedly claim that consciousness is entirely supported by our brains, and will disappear when we die…’

‘Francis Crick, one of the giants of 20th century science, with an untamed curiosity, and a first-rate intellect to accompany this, dissented from this meek view. He decided after a long, sparkling career in genetics, which included the discovery of the structure of DNA, to spend the last period of his life to cracking the science of consciousness. Although he sadly didn’t live to see a clear solution to the problem, he made some critical progress. More important than this, though, he helped make consciousness an acceptable field for science to study.
So how does science get a foothold on such a difficult topic as consciousness? Actually, it’s not really as difficult as all that. Most of science breaks down to exploring some process by manipulating it as much as possible and observing the effects. Consciousness is no different.’

20121130-210612.jpg

All things & No things

existentialism, Nature, Psychology, Spirituality, Uncategorized

http://kimgraaemunch.wordpress.com/tag/taijitu/Image

“Mind has fixed compartments. Fixedness is the nature of mind and fluidity is the nature of life. Mind is a choice. Life is not logic.” Osho.

‘If you wish to see the truth

then hold no opinion for or against.

The struggle of what one likes and what one dislikes

is the disease of the mind.’ Sosan

Zen Masters

http://www.zen-deshimaru.com/EN/real-effect/arts/Reikei/Sosan.html

 

The eyes may be wide open during sleep. They do not see anything, because the mind is not there!

The glasses model – perceptive reality

existentialism, Psychology, Spirituality

This post has taken direct influence, and to begin with, words, from http://timeforchange.org

This post is about how we perceive everything, as human animals.. Specifically the question of Objective and Subjective reality.

‘If we assume that theImage subjective influencing of the neutral picture happens in our subconscious, we can imagine there is a large collection of different pairs of glasses there. According to which pair of glasses is held in front of us by our subconscious state, we interpret the picture in a different way which then moves us for example to feel fear, anger, consternation, apathy, joy or sadness. Our perception is determined by the respective glasses.

This is not all about always wearing rose-coloured glasses, so that everything is felt to be «good». It is of course possible to be tempted to outwit our subconscious by some kind of technique so that we see everything through rose-coloured glasses. However in the end we would be deceiving ourselves to the extent that we would be fighting the symptoms and not the causes.

Earlier we have described how the objective of all human beings is to live the basic rights of existence in every situation in order to attain a permanent state of harmony within ourselves. With the «glasses model» and subjective perception we could also describe this as a state in which our perception is no longer impaired by glasses, in which we no longer judge but we can accept everything calmly as it is.

We must emphasize once again however that this calmness must not be confused with the wearing of rose-coloured glasses which allows everything to appear cheerful and good. The rose-coloured glasses would also be a judgement which – it is true – would normally appear to us to be pleasant. However we would then judge everything in life to be good and go through life like a lunatic with a fixed smile.

Subjective perception (perceptive reality) is a very powerful aid to personal development. So that it can function properly it needs only one – but very important – precondition: Of our own volition and without conditions we must want to respect the basic rights of existence in every situation. This development does not take place of its own accord.

Our subconscious helps us with subjective perception (glasses model), the activation of our objectives (tuning bowl model) and additional mechanisms permit us to interpret things such that we can efficiently train for the abovementioned goals. We develop our awareness and accept the full responsibility for our life (self-responsibility). This is our personal path to harmony and inner peace.’

Jürg Rohrer

Jürg Rohrer is from Buchs, Switzerland, Graduate in Engineering from the ETH (Technical University) Zürich, was initially active as Development Manager and Crisis Manager both at home and abroad, since 1991 he has been a self-employed entrepreneur in the fields of environmental technology and IT. These companies have already been presented with several international awards for their innovative technologies and ideas. His main concern is the integration of high ethical values into the everyday commercial world. He is the author of the book series “Time for Change”.

In addition he has been working as lecturer for renewable energy systems and efficient use of energy.

The following is from http://www.lifehack.org

‘Change Your Story, Change Your Perception, Change Your Life

We all get caught up in our stories. Most of us think we are our stories. It’s when those stories take on a life of their own, and that life isn’t the one we want, that things start to suck.

Think about the story you’re living right now. Who wrote it? Did you consciously decide to create the reality you’re living now, or was it mainly shaped by your parents, friends, spouse, school, or the media? If you don’t like the story your living, then change the perception. Envision how you’d write the next chapter of your story. Better yet, actually sit down and write it. Focus your perception on creating a new reality, one where you are in charge of the story. Take back the job as screenwriter and director, and stop just being an actor

Everything begins with a decision – decide now to be in charge of your own perception of reality. Because if you don’t, there are plenty of folks whose sole purpose in life is to craft that perception for you. Do you trust them to have your best interest in mind…?

Tony D. Clark writes, draws cartoons, designs software and websites, and spends a lot of time talking others into working from home, being creative, and doing what they love. His blog Success from the Nest focuses on helping parents who want to do meaningful work from home and have more time for their families, and their dreams.

Prophetic Dreams

Creativity, existentialism, Nature, Psychology, Spirituality

‘Divine Calling!’ Does such a concept really exist? Mohammed was an illiterate before he heard God talking to him, giving him a task on this earth, a mission to follow through. I will be exploring some more on this topic and finding other referances to similiar stories of humans claiming direct dialogue with God, or a higher being..

20120605-121119.jpg

The Golden Rule of Dream Work

Before embarking on the adventure of engaging your Dream Oracle, there is one rule that must be heeded: even when attempting to incubate a question for others, ninety-nine percent of the time, the dream is for the dreamer. As simple and obvious as that sounds, too many dreamers assume their dreams of friends or family are urgent messages for those people, rather than messages coded in symbol and intended for self. While eventually you will learn to distinguish a true precognitive dream involving another person, in the beginning the tendency is to mistake typical dream content as information you need to pass on in real life, to those in the dream.

20120605-121834.jpg

Vaticinium Ex Eventu:
The Fallacy of Prophecy

Vaticinium ex eventu is a famous Latin dictum that when translated into English means prophecy from the event. That is to say a the results of an event (i.e. a battle) are attributed and alluded to a prophecy made previously that at the time of documentation did not have a meaning attributed to it. Throughout history, there have been many prophecies which when looked back upon, seem to accurately describe and predict future events. Often times these prophecies come via dreams and in that case the maxim in somnis veritas, in dreams there is truth, comes into play. For centuries, before the technology and the scientific approach of today was used, prophetic dreams were taken to be truth; vaticinium ex eventu would only further prove the theory. Are these prophetic dreams fate, or simply just mere coincidence. In examining three famous premonitions: Calpurnia’s dream of Julius Caesar’s assassination, Joan of Arc’s vision of being captured and killed by the English, and Abraham Lincoln’s prophetic dream of his own death, two critics, Lucretius and Ethan Allen provide an alternate explanation to the nature of prophecy and dreams. Dreams that seem to be of prophetic nature are in fact interpreted in such a way that vaticunium ex eventu is the cause or influences from waking life are found in the dreams, and therefore in sonis veritas plays a role.
In the article “Lucretius on the Gates of Horn and Ivory: A Philosophical Challenge to Prophecy on Dreams”, the author Mark Holowchak examines Lucretius’s stance on prophetic dreams and elaborates on them. Holowchak states that Lucretius’s main theory is that “…dreams, like mirrors, reflect our waking personality” (Holowchak). He goes further to state that “…dreams have no divine character and are not at all prophetic…they originate from the influx of certain images” (Holowchak). Lucretius establishes first off that dreams are the result of images and experiences from out waking lives. The content of our dreams is neither unique nor divine. Continuing with this thought, Holowchak writes, “…he [Lucretius] notes that we tend to dream about our daily deeds and thoughts. Barristers dream of law. Generals dream of fighting battles. Sailors dream of waging war with the wind” (Holowchak). Advancing Lucretius’s point he states that, “The reservoir of images from which dreams would certainly contain a predominance of images related to a dreamer’s daily thoughts and experiences” (Holowchak). Dreams are a random images and thoughts influenced by one’s daily waking life. Because “Generals dream if fighting battles”, it is therefore no surprise that they might dream of a victory against a foe. It is not prophecy but mere coincidence combined with previously conceived thoughts and influences from daily life that in the dream the general foresaw prophecy and it happened to come true. Therefore, prophecies are simply just coincidences based off of experiences, pre-conceived thoughts and ideas, and images from waking life, and are not visions of the future.
Likewise in chapter seven of Ethan Allen’s book Oracles of Reason, Allen states his opening argument on the nature of prophecy by saying

Prophecy is by some thought to be miraculous, and by others to be supernatural and there are others who indulge themselves in an opinion, that they amount to no more than mere political conjectures. Some nations have feigned an intercourse with good spirits by the act of magic; and most nations have pretended to an intercourse with the world of spirits both ways (Allen, 51)

Here, Allen suggests the idea of prophecy is of a supernatural nature or if that not be the case, that the idea of prophecy and prophecies in general are a political tool used to advance a particular agenda. He furthers his opening argument by saying that “…prophecy, as well as all other sort of precognition must be supernaturally inspired, or it could be no more than judging of future events from mere probability or guess-work” (Allen, 52). Allen argues that one could “have a prophetic dream” about tomorrow’s weather conditions and be able to predict them. However, if one is already proficient in field of meteorology, than it was not so much as prophetic as it was good guesswork. Additionally, Allen states

…provided some of the prophecies should point out some particular events, which have since taken place, there might have been previous grounds of probability, that such or such events would in the ordinary cause of things come to pass…” (Allen, 55)

Similarly to the previous argument, Allen argues that prophetic dreams are not premonitions if there are “…previous grounds of probability…” that events predicted would be likely to happen. He sights an example from the bible to help support his argument. Allen provides the example by saying, “…it is in no ways extraordinary that the prophet Jeremiah should be able to predict that Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, should take Jerusalem when we consider the power of the Babylonish [sic] Empire” (Allen, 55). Parallel to how it was considerably easy to come to the conclusion that Babylon was going to take over Jerusalem ante facto, many prophecies “are dreamt” according to the same fashion.
In conclusion, both Lucretius and Ethan Allen both argue the invalidity of prophecies. Lucretius argues that dreams are reflective of waking life, and therefore if you’re waking life gives you reason to believe an event will come to pass, it could arrive in your dream. In that case, the dream would be recognized as “prophecy”. Likewise, Ethan Allen argues that prophecies could and tend to be more of an “educated hypothesis” nature, rather than divine intervention, as is the case with Jeremiah and the Babylonian invasion.
In applying these two theories to historical accounts, the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BCE is one of the most famous. According to historical sources, including the famous historian Plutarch as well as many others, the day before Caesar’s assassination, Calpurnia, Caesar’s wife, had a prophetic dream that predicted Caesar’s death. The account goes as follows

…the night of 14 March [44 BCE] Calpurnia suffered a nightmare in which she is variously claimed to have seen either the pediment of the house collapsing or that she was holding his [Julius Caesar] murdered body in her arms. Then the morning sacrifices on the 15th were repeated several times, but the omens were always unfavorable. Caesar is suppose to have been surprised because his wife was nor normally given to superstition… (Goldsworthy, 507)

According to the source by Plutarch, Calpurnia had terrible nightmares and when she recounted them to her husband they all mentioned his murder. As one can see, multiple sources confirm Calpurnia’s premonition regarding Caesar’s assassination. To the untrained eye, it would seem that Calpurnia’s dream was in fact prophetic, for the next day, Caesar was found on the senate floor with “…twenty-three [stab] wounds to his body” (Goldsworthy, 508). However, upon closer examination of the context of Rome in March of 44 BCE, the word “prophecy” and “premonition” might be unfound.
At this time in Rome, it was not unknown that Caesar was not popular among all citizens. In fact, “there is little reason to doubt that in the weeks before his death the atmosphere of Rome was somber in the extreme” (Bradford, 286) and furthermore, “…small groups of men were known to be meeting behind closed doors in private houses, and the air was full of rumors” (Bradford, 286). With these ideas in mind, it is not so unusual that Calpurnia dreamed of her husband’s death. According to Lucretius, experiences in Calpurnia’s waking life i.e. rumors of an assassination plot would have lead her to her premonition in her dream. Similarly, according to Ethan Allen, Calpurnia’s dream of a collapsing house, if we take it in the more symbolic approach, could be hypothesized to have meant Caesar’s death, especially if educated guesswork was involved due to the political environment at the time. In that case vaticinium ex eventu would be an appropriate conclusion. As one can see, Calpurnia’s dream, although accurately predicted Caesar’s death, is most likely the result of influences from waking life and other factors that would lead her to draw the conclusion and have a “prediction” when in fact it is merely coincidence.
Another example of a prophetic dream is that of Joan of Arc. During the latter part of the Hundred Years War between England and France, France was in desperate need of a hero, or in this case a heroine. Driven by her visions and prophetic dreams of saints and other Christian figures, Joan of Arc went from an unknown farmer’s daughter to the general of the French armies. Joan of Arc died on the 30th of May 1431 sentenced to burning at the stake. Before her trail and execution by the English, Joan of Arc was captured by the Burgundians and later sold to the English.
In a prophetic dream Joan had in March of 1429, she foresaw her own capture and death by the hands of the English. Recounting her dream as well as her interpretation to her king Charles VII, Joan of Arc tell him, “ ‘I shall last a year, and but little longer. We must think to do good work in that year.’ Later, she elaborated by saying that she would be captured by mid-summer day…” (Sullivan, 152). Only fourteen months later, as predicted, Joan was captured by Burgundian soldiers. During that year, she was sold to the English and put on trial, the affirmative argued that “

the accused [Joan of Arc] had performed, composed, participated in, and enacted numerous sorceries and superstitions not only this year but from childhood…she prophesized the future… (Hobbins, 125)

On one hand, it would seem that Joan’s dream was indeed prophecy especially considering that throughout her life Joan of Arc claimed to have visions and prophecies. Additonally, “During the late Middle –Ages, when Joan of Arc claimed to have voices speak to her, women visionaries were increasingly prominent…” (Sullivan, 21). However, in view of Lucretius and Ethan Allen’s critiques of prophetic dreams, perhaps it was mere coincidence. Like the context surrounding Julius Caesar and the political and social atmosphere engulfing the city of Rome in 44 BCE, France during the Hundred Years War was also in an unstable setting. Due to this atmosphere, it would not be unusual for people to dream of their own demise in some fashion, particularly those of high rank and of great importance, like Joan of Arc. Furthermore, it was not a hidden truth that the English and the Burgundians despised Joan of Arc, as she was the one who had turned the war around. Therefore, because of this knowledge and experiences in Joan of Arc’s waking life, it is not surprising that she had a dream of her capture and death and moreover that she could have easily hypothesized such events. In conclusion, when taking in account the events surrounding Joan of Arc’s waking life, it is clear that it was influential in her having a dream where she prophesized her death and therefore the fact that she was captured and killed post facto is a coincidence.
A final example of prophetic dreams as mere coincidence is the story of Abraham Lincoln prediction. According to a source, “Lincoln accurately forecasted his own death only a few days prior to his actual assassination on Good Friday, 14 April 1865” (Brennan, 51). In his dream, Lincoln recounts that

…he heard sobs…I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs. There the silence was broken by the same pitiful sobbing but the mourners were invisible. I went from room to room; no living person was in sight…where were all the people who were grieving…I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I entered…[there] rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments… ‘Who is dead in the White House?’ I demanded… ‘The President…he was killed by an assassin!’… (Brennan, 52)

It is clear, similar from the other two dreams of Calpurnia and Joan of Arc , that the message behind the dream is the ultimate death of Lincoln .Three days after he prophesized his death in a dream, Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilks Boothe on April 14th 1865.
In examining the context of Lincoln’s life and the atmosphere of 1865, it seems quite plausible that the environment and waking life influenced this dream. First off, Marcia Brennan in her article “Tragic Dreams and Spectral Doubles: The Metaphysical Lincoln”, Brennan states that

viewed aethetically, Lincoln’s apparitional visions can be seen as expressions of memento mori, or remainders of death as projected through the prism of an overarching fatalism (Brennan, 52)

From this, one can see that Lincoln had a taste for works of a dark nature. Taking that into account combined with the background knowledge of the era, the Civil War, where there undoubtedly countless threats from Southerns against Linocln, it is not surprising in the least that Lincoln dreamed of his assassination. As Lucretius would say, influences from waking life attributed to Lincoln dreaming his assassination. In conjunction with Ethan Allen’s view that hypothesized guesses and the situation that Lincoln found himself in (i.e. enemy of the South, subject of distaste by the South, etc.), it is clear that Lincoln’s premonition is chance and not fate.
In conclusion, although prophetic dreams seem to foretell future events, and as the past three examples have shown, accurately predict the future, there are other forces at work. Two philosophers, Lucretius and Ethan Allen, both have presented alternate views to prophetic dreams, other than the obvious prophetic dreams predict the future. Waking life experiences, combined with other factors such as educated guesses and understanding the context of the socio-political environment, directly influence dreams. Perhaps therefore, dreams are not fate but just mere influxes of images which in a strange occurrence of events are manifested in a vision that seems to be of the future.

Works Citied

Allen, Ethan. “Chapter VII.” Reason. the only oracle of man; or, a compendious System of natural religion, by Col. Ethan Allen; to which is added, Critical remarks on the truth and harmony of the four gospels, with observations on the instruction given by Jesus Christ, and the doctrines of Christianity, by a Free Thinker. 51-68. New York, NY US: G W & A J Matsell, 1836. PsycINFO. EBSCO. Web. 28 Apr. 2011.

Bradford, Ernle. Julius Caesar: the Pursuit of Power. New York: Morrow, 1984. Print.

Brennan, Marcia. “Tragic Dreams and Spectral Doubles: The Metaphysical Lincoln,” PN Review 188 (Manchester, UK: Carcanet Press, 2009), pp. 49-53.

Goldsworthy, Adrian Keith. Caesar: Life of a Colossus. New Haven: Yale UP, 2006. Print.

Hobbins, Daniel. The Trial of Joan of Arc. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2005. Print.

Holowchak, Mark. “Lucretius on the Gates of Horn and Ivory: A Psychophysical Challenge to Prophecy by Dreams.” Journal of the History of Philosophy 42.4 (2004): 355-68. Web. 14 Apr. 2011.

Sullivan, Karen. The Interrogation of Joan of Arc. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1999. Print.

20120605-122005.jpg

The Denial of Death

existentialism, Psychology

Click the image below to get the link to about Ernest Becker’s 1973 Pulitizer prize winning seminal book, ‘The Denial of Death.’

A review of the book by ‘A wayfarer’s notes’ can be found at this link;

http://perpetual-lab.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/denial-of-death-by-ernest-becker.html

Click here for link to about the documentary ‘Flight from Death,’ a film inspired by the work of Ernest Becker

‘Flight from Death’ uncovers death anxiety as a possible root cause of many of our behaviors on a psychological, spiritual, and cultural level.

Following the work of the late cultural anthropologist, Ernest Becker, and his Pulitzer Prize-winning book Denial of Death, this documentary explores the ongoing research of a group of social psychologists that may forever change the way we look at ourselves and the world. Over the last twenty-five years, this team of researchers has conducted over 300 laboratory studies, which substantiate Becker’s claim that death anxiety is a primary motivator of human behavior, specifically aggression and violence.


I think this movie is a nice way to relate this post too
The film was inspired by Emilio Estevez’s own son, Taylor. It started in 2003 as a project when Taylor, at the time 19 years old, and Sheen, whose The West Wing TV series was in hiatus, took part in the pilgrimage route. Taylor, who served as an associate producer on the film, had driven the length of the Camino with his grandfather. On the way he had met the woman who would become his wife; thus, the Camino held special meaning for him. After the trip a series of discussions started between Sheen and his son for a movie about the Camino de Santiago. Sheen originally suggested it be a low-budget documentary, but Estevez was not interested in such a small project, wanting instead a bigger experience.
Estevez also found inspiration in his vineyard, Casa Dumetz, where he wrote much of the dialogue for the film. Exploring the universal themes of loss, community and faith, he saw parallels with the characters of the film The Wizard of Oz. The script took six months to get a first draft.

The following is an interesting article I have pasted onto here;

VIENNA, AUSTRIA – For the first time, the exhibition “Eros & Thanatos – Drives, Images, Interpretations”, on view at the Sigmund Freud Museum and in the Historic Library of the Liechtenstein Museum, thematizes Freud’s theory of drives through exceptional works of fine art. Paintings, drawings, prints, enamels and sculptures by artists including Dürer, Rubens, Bellucci, Klimt and Schiele illustrate the interplay between the life and death drives. The exhibition’s team of curators and scientific advisors includes Monika Knofler, director of the Academy’s Graphic Collection, Johann Kräftner, director of the Liechtenstein Museum, Hannes Etzlstorfer, and Jeanne Wolff-Bernstein, a psychoanalyst based in San Francisco and former president of the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California. On exhibition 12 June though 13 October, 2009.

In his late work, Freud’s theory of drives centered on the opposition between the death drive (Thanatos) and the life drive (Eros). He sought to explain the diversity of psychical life through the interplay of and conflict between these two primal drives. “Eros & Thanatos” is the first joint effort of the two museums, and it represents a continuation of the Sigmund Freud Museum’s cooperation with the Graphic Collection of the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts.

Inge Scholz-Strasser, director of the Sigmund Freud Museum, elucidates: “In this exhibition we have brought together a controversial psychoanalytic theory with two internationally renowned and art-historically significant collections. It is the first cooperation with the nearby Liechtenstein Museum, which has provided key works on loan to the Sigmund Freud Museum.”

Johann Kräftner, director of the Liechtenstein Museum continues: “With this exhibition we would like to bring together the energies of the two museums, providing a new impulse in a district that has repeatedly been the birthplace of great cultural achievements in Vienna. Through the cooperation of two great antipodes, the home and workplace of Sigmund Freud in Berggasse and the Liechtenstein Palace, working together with the Graphic Collection of the Academy of Fine Arts, new realizations are opened by the integration of a transdisciplinary perspective into the consideration of themes of which one might have thought there was nothing new to know.”

The exhibition illustrates Freud’s many-sided theory of the life and death drives using paintings and graphics from antiquity, the Renaissance and the fin de siècle. During Freud’s life, artists such as Schiele, Klimt and Kokoschka devoted great attention to the theme of sexuality without ever having read Freud’s theories on the topic. Conversely, although Freud felt himself misunderstood by his adherents in the question of Eros and Thanatos, he also did not seek contact to the artists of his era, instead only taking heed of the resonances he found with his revolutionary theories in the writings of the pre-Socratic philosopher Empedocles.

In “Eros and Thanatos” the Sigmund Freud Museum and the Liechtenstein Museum use Freud’s texts in exploring the tension between life and death, between violence and passion in the work of artists of various epochs – from Dürer through Giordano to the Vienna Secession.

Eros and Thanatos in the Work of Sigmund Freud
In Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920) Freud introduced the life and death drives for the first time, whereby he declared that his earlier conception of a duality between the self-preservation drive and the sex drive was no longer sufficient. Although a number of psychoanalysts expressed doubt regarding his new theory, Freud remained an energetic proponent of this theory for the rest of his life.

According to his essay, the life drive – Eros – strives to lengthen life and makes connections to objects, while the death drive – Thanatos – yearns for a return to an earlier stage of life, a tension-free and almost lifeless state, and does not strive to enter into object relationships. In Freud’s last years, his theories of Eros and Thanatos found increasing resonance before the background of the violent and selfdestructive nature of political and social developments worldwide. In his 1932 letter to Albert Einstein, Freud linked Eros to love and Thanatos to hate, while at the same time warning: “(…) we must be chary of passing overhastily to the notions of good and evil. Each of these instincts is every whit as indispensable as its opposite, and all the phenomena of life derive from their activity.” The exhibition “Eros & Thanatos” shows how continually relevant the struggle between external storm and inner drive has remained for humanity over the centuries.

20120602-094303.jpg

20120602-094646.jpg