The Analysis Of Borges and I
“This is a fascinating story about Jorge Luis Borges and himself. “The other one, the one called Borges, is the one thing happen to. I walk through the streets of Buenos Aires and stop for a moment, perhaps mechanically now, to look at the arch of an entrance hall and the grillwork on the gate; I know of Borges from the mail and see his name on a list of professors or in a biographical dictionary. I like hourglasses, maps, eighteenth-century typography, the taste of coffee and the prose of Stevenson; he shares these preferences, but in a vain way that turns them into the attributes of an actor. It would be an exaggeration to say that ours is a hostile relationship; I live, let myself go on living, so that Borges may contrive his literature, and this literature justifies me. It is no effort for me to confess that he has achieved some valid pages, but those pages cannot save me, perhaps because what is good belongs to no one, not even to him, but rather to the language and to tradition. Besides, I am destined to perish, definitively, and only some instant of me can survive in him. Little by little, I am giving over everything to him, though I am quite aware of his perverse custom of falsifying and magnifying things. Spinoza knew that all things long to persist in their being; the stone eternally wants to be a stone and the tiger a tiger. I shall remain in Borges, not in myself (if it is true that I am someone), but I recognize myself less in his books than in many others or in the laborious strumming of a guitar. Years ago I tried to free myself from him and went from the mythologies of the suburbs to the games with time and infinity, but those games belong to Borges now and I shall have to imagine other things. Thus my life is a flight and I lose everything and everything belongs to oblivion, or to him. I do not know which of us has written this page.”
I have a brain.
I am the brain.
These two sentences reveal a brief summary of a problem, which has been debated for centuries. Many writers, scientists and philosophers have pondered about brain and perception. We are still struggling to solve our own brain, our own mind, and our own existence we called as I. So, which of these sentences is real?
Sometimes we mention about qualified migration as ‘migration of brain’, but we don’t really mean that in the real sense of the word. Our aim is to say that they are people who migrate to abroad. You have a well-working brain, so who are you or who is this brain? And what is this we called as mind?
What is the relationship between what we call the mind and the central nervous system (which includes the brain, spinal cord, nerves, etc.) We all agree that there is a very close relationship between the brain and the mind, but it is difficult to understand the nature of this relationship. What is exactly correlation between the brain and the mind?
Philosophy and science seek the answers of these questions for hundreds of years. To explain this relationship, to solve the effects on each other; many theories have been laid. However, the idea of reductionism, which has recently been recognized among many, is an open to improvement, an important claim. Reductionism; it is a clear indication that the problem of mind body dichotomy will only be solved when social and natural sciences work together. The aim of this thesis is to reveal the major changes that occur in our brains on the perception of self through the cases of epilepsy and identity disorder which was triggered by epilepsy. Epilepsy cases and the results bring us a step closer to reductionism; also it will show the validity and accuracy of the sentence of “I am the brain.”
Examination of life at all stages, from social behavior to molecular behavior, is based on reductionism as the main explanatory concept in our time. This information approach seeks to understand the complex concepts at a level with the concepts of more fundamental level.
Psychological reductionism is exemplified in the views of Carl Sagan’s bestselling book The Dragons of Eden *. Sagan writes, “My fundamental premise about the brain is that its workings – what we sometimes call ‘mind’ – are a consequence of its anatomy and physiology, and nothing more.” As another indication of this tendency of thought, Sagan’s book contains synapses, lobotomies, proteins and electrodes rather than words such as mind, consciousness, perception, awareness, or thought.
Before the nineteenth century, the mind-body duality, which was the center of Descartes’ philosophy, tended to keep the human mind out of the field of biology. Against Descartes’s dualism, the famous philosopher Gilbert Ryle criticized the separation of mind and body, as claiming that the separation was based on a categorical mistake. He writes;
“Such in outline is the official theory. I shall often speak of it, with deliberate abusiveness, as ‘the dogma of the Ghost in the Machine.’ I hope to prove that it is entirely false, and false not in detail but in principle. It is not merely an assemblage of particular mistakes. It is one big mistake and a mistake of a special kind. It is, namely, a category mistake.”
In order to claim that there is no ghost in the machine, everything can be explained through anatomy and physiology, it is important to examine the patients with epilepsy. Epilepsy cases are the best examples of how much changes in our brain can change our personality. Before presenting these cases, it should be mentioned what is epilepsy and what personality disorders which can be triggered by epilepsy.
“Epilepsy, a neurological disorder marked by sudden recurrent episodes of sensory disturbance, loss of consciousness, or convulsions, associated with abnormal electrical activity in the brain.”
Identity disorders are the most common psychiatric disorders in epilepsy, and it is observed especially in temporal lobe- epilepsy. The most prominent features; are intense religious life, viscosity and changes in sexual behavior.
Viscosity: It is defined as forming extreme intimate social relations. Especially it can be revealed from the patient’s speech.
Changes in sexual behavior: The most common form as hypo -sexuality, sometimes hyper- sexuality and sexual deviations (such as fetishism, transsexualism). Decreased libido is seen in about half of male patients and sexual arousal disorder is more common than one of three of women with epilepsy.
Intense Religious Life: The special relationship between epilepsy and religion was recognized by Hippocrates. Both religious participation and conceptual, moral and philosophical issues are excessive.
Hypergrafy: Excessive and compulsive, detailed writing, about personal and religious themes.
Although there are many cases in the literature, I will be able to examine the most detailed case and a recent case.
Patient was a man who was 51 years old and at the age of 19, he began to be suffered from déjà vu attacks. Deja vu attacks began to be much more frequent as many as 20 attacks a day. Déjà vu attacks were followed by other symptoms like sharp pains in the chest and sensations of breathlessness; alterations of hearing; occasional musical hallucinations, for instance, he said that always hearing a specific song. Sometimes, he would feel like ‘out of body,’ and these are so realistic.
He had his first experience with epileptic seizure at Christmas 1976. Following this seizure, a problem was detected in the right temporal lobe of the patient. Antiepileptic drugs were initiated, but epileptic seizures could not be controlled. Unless the disease is treated, some personality disorders have started to be seen. He claimed that he is more spiritual and more creative than before. He obsessed with playing his guitar and making music.
After the doctors recommended surgery, he agreed to undergo the surgery. After the surgery, he had no seizures for 4 years. During this time, he supported the new methods for the treatment of epilepsy and supported the programs and funds of the epilepsy foundation. After four years, the doctors decided that Jack would have another operation.
However, about a month after that surgery, there were many behavioral changes that had not previously taken place, such as irritability, hyperphagia, and hypersexuality (including coprofilia). Dramatically increase in sexual desire was observed in this process. He started watching porn on the Internet and storing them on his computer. Some of these pornographic contents contained child pornography. Pornography has become an obsession with him. Moreover, the pornographic content he had downloaded or his obsession with masturbation kept them from everyone because he was ashamed of these activities. In 2006, he was arrested by the federal authorities for downloading child pornography. He charged with;
“knowingly and willfully possess[ing] material which contained at least three images of child pornography, as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 2256, which were shipped and transported in interstate and foreign commerce, including by computer, and were produced using materials that were shipped and transported in interstate and foreign commerce, including by computer.”
After his arrest, he was treated by the psychiatric clinic. This treatment resulted in a decrease in obsessions. He described his behavioral changes as follows:
“my appetite for food and sex increased dramatically. I had greater mood swings. I wanted sex constantly. Every day. I was very easily stimulated and began to touch myself regularly. I began to request sex daily from my wife. If I wasn’t having sex with my wife, I masturbated. This behavior increased over time. I became more emotionally labile, obsessive–compulsive, but on the other extreme became disinterested or unable to initiate things I needed or was supposed to do. I raged for hours at inappropriate things at home (no socks, no rye bread, perceived criticisms). Driving home from work a driver ‘squeezed me’ on a merge. I accelerated and cut him off. I rolled my window down, gave him the finger and began screaming at him, and threw a metal coffee mug and hit his car. He called police from his cell. I was pulled over and ticketed. I become distracted so easily that I can’t get anything started or done.”[footnoteRef:5] [5: O., Devinsky, O., Sacks, & J., Devinsky. (2009). Kluver-Bucy syndrome, hypersexuality, and the law.]
His wife’s account tallies with this: “He started to gain weight and his pants changed 3 sizes within 6 months. His appetite was out of control. He would get up in the middle of the night and eat an entire bag of cookies or a block of cheese with a large box of crackers. He asked that I serve the same foods every day. He also had to wear the same sets of clothing. I always had to do laundry every night, so his two favorite shirts and two favorite pants were in a closet with 25 other sets that he not would wear. He wanted to have sex all the time. He went from being a very compassionate and warm partner to just going through the motions. He didn’t remember having just been intimate. He said it didn’t seem like a current memory or emotion. He wanted sex constantly after his surgery until the day the officers showed up, at least 5 to 6 times a day. He also gave up on foreplay. He would always want to get right to it. [He] was constantly grasping with his hands, coming up behind me and pressing himself against me while I was doing chores or talking on the phone. If [he] came to bed in the middle of the night, he would ply me for sex. Two years ago, after his arrest, he was given Zoloft and Seroquel and became much warmer and loving but the medications shut off his libido. As with much of his obsessions and activities that were ‘all or nothing’, sex became non-existent. His emotions to me, however, have reverted back to loving and compassionate and his outburst of anger and rage have disappeared. It is as if a faulty switch was turned off.”[footnoteRef:6] [6: O., Devinsky, O., Sacks, & J., Devinsky. (2009). Kluver-Bucy syndrome, hypersexuality, and the law.]
This article attempted to point the idea of the ‘I’ and the reasons of the changes in the idea of ‘I’, which is one of the most important problems of the philosophy of mind. It is mentioned that the most successful theory that can be used to solve these problems is reductionism, and that we can find the best examples to support this idea in cases of epilepsy. The case example has clearly shown that our brain has the power to manage and alter our sense of self. ‘I’ is a puzzle that is possible to solve, although it may seem difficult. Because of this, it is clear that as we discover the brain, we will get closer to discovering the limits of ‘I’. We need to solve the riddle to discover our borders. The solution is close to us.
· Hofstadter, D. and Dennett, D. (2010). The mind’s I. New York: Basic Books.
· Ramachandran, V. and Blakeslee, S. (2012). Phantoms in the brain. London: Fourth Estate.
· Neurocase- Journals- NCBI from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/journals/neurocase/
· Ryle, G. (2000). The concept of mind. London: Penguin.
· Metzinger, T. (2000). Neural correlates of consciousness. [Cambridge, Mass.]: CogNet.
· Devinsky, J., Sacks, O., & Devinsky, O. (5 November 2009). Https://www.researchgate.net/publication/38114770_Kluver-Bucy_syndrome_hypersexuality_and_the_law. Neurocase,140-145. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
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