Alienation and the sciences of mind : understanding schizophrenia without cognitivist theory
This dissertation combines a philosophical critique of cognitive theories of schizophrenia with an alternative theorisation of the alienated states of mind met with in this illness. Whilst schizophrenia constitutes the embodiment of an estranged subjectivity - a profound alienation from the world, other people and oneself, cognitivism provides us (so the argument goes) with a fundamentally alienated conception of mind. Because it tacitly occupies such a perspective, it can easily appear as if cognitivism has provided a suitable framework for theorising schizophrenia. But insofar as it fails to adequately depict our engagement with others and with the world, or explain the integrity of our personality, cognitivist theory fails to provide a framework within which a psychotic breakdown in such engagement or integrity can be understood. Because cognitivism provides a conception of mind as a self-contained inner realm disengaged from the social world and natural environment, it gives rise to a series of metaphysical and epistemological problematics. These inspire theories and explanations of causal mechanisms and epistemic faculties which serve to reconnect the subject with that (the world, other subjects, their own minds) from which they have theoretically been alienated. Without such a disengaged perspective, however, the apparent need for theory and explanation does not arise. What is rather required is a more adequate conception of mind as intrinsically relational, and of individual mental contents as constitutively embedded within a Background both of other such contents and of meaningful bodily behaviour. Cognitive accounts of schizophrenia explain the illness in terms of breakdowns within the aforementioned causal mechanisms and epistemic faculties. These mechanisms and faculties however are mythical and are in any case posited to perform an unnecessary task. A better understanding of schizophrenia can be had in terms of fractures within the aforementioned Background structures of meaning.