Sunday, September 05, 2010

Absence of Mind by Marilynne Robinson

A central question in Robinson's new book is the utility, or even ethics of objectivity.
She is unsatisfied with the "closed ontologies" of "scientific monisms"; that is, claiming that everything can be understood in terms of (for example), perversion (Freud), class (Marx) or genes (Darwin). A flaw in these reductionisms is "the absence of an acknowledgement of ... subjectivity."

A similar question about the difference between understanding and experiencing love came up in a conversation on the camino. For instance: does knowing about the neurology or chemistry of attraction and attachment make one a better friend or lover or father? [I remember, but cannot find the source of a characteristically bold Salavador DalĂ­ quote, "love is deoxyrybonucleic acid."]  Robinson states the case more acutely:
Does knowing 'how the machinery of the brain works' – and, in fact, we still do not know how it works – have any implication for the effective use of the mind? (p52)


  1. Anonymous12:17 pm

    Hi, I am from Melbourne.

    Please find a set of references which are very much about the nature of Consciousness altogether - as distinct from the objectifying mind which now patterns ALL of Western culture, with NO exceptions

    Another critique of conventional religiosity

    Not Two Is Peace via:

  2. Hi John from Melbourne.
    Thanks for these - there are a lot of links; which one do you think is most directly relevant to Robinson's question?
    Thanks, Cam.