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2006 | 60 | 1(272) | 119-131

Article title

Casting Spells on Representation


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Where should one seek the archaeological sources of the representation system? Are those skills embedded in our behavioral and even emotional functioning since in accordance with the suggestion formulated by Freud sources of human symbolism should be sought in defensive mechanisms which allow us to deal with the first painful wounds inflicted against our narcissism? In the beginning there was the sexual drive, and representation appears to be its mere perception; on the other hand, since in 'das Es' we encounter only representations of the drive and not the drive itself, then the life of representation seems to precede that of the forces of the drive. Or should we look for the origin of human symbolism in linguistic systems, i. e. in the ability to produce an endless sequence of sentences and to refer it to the world, as has been suggested by Chomsky? The basic purpose of this study is to attempt answering the above posed questions and, consequently, to confront the psychoanalytical and cognitivistic discourse. The author claims that the superiority of the former discourse consists predominantly in the fact that it tries to understand the root of representation 'avant la lettre', i. e. to comprehend the essence of representation before it started to fulfill orientation (representation) functions vis a vis the outer word. Moreover, the author maintains that the fundamental paradox of the human representation system consists in the fact that representation, whose initial yardstick is escape from the world of drives, is to become an appliance whose measure is adequacy. Representation, whose initial function was prolonging the existence of forces more powerful and primeval than itself (i. e. drives), is to become a depiction of something that is diametrically different from it and ontically totally alien, in other words, the outer world. Representation was the outer quality of the world of nature (the body) in the psychic apparatus; it is to become an inner simulation of the outer quality (nature) in the same apparatus. Hence the possibly hasty but indispensable conclusion that representation is a fold, a knot, a bow, a stratification, a crisis, and a meeting point of elements of the natural world, albeit experienced from two sides: the body and the world. That what we call an interior (representation) is only the outcome of a collision of two tectonic slabs in the world of nature: the physics of the outer world and the biology of the corporeal world. Only such a geographic location of representation in the world allows us to reconstruct the contents of this conception.







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  • S. Wrobel, Instytut Filozofii i Socjologii PAN, ul. Nowy Swiat 72, 00-330 Warszawa, Poland


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