Reading neuroscience : ventriloquism as a metaphor for multiple readings of self
This thesis argues that the consensus models of self forwarded and upheld in the fields of discourse most concerned with its description, indicate a process of ventriloquism where agency slips between dual poles of body and mind and cannot be tracked to a hiding place. Just as with ventriloquism, in these models of self it is unclear who is doing the 'talking', and the skill of performance would seem to make the distinction almost redundant. The self seems a complicity of often conflicting agents when analysed as its constituent parts, and not there at all when viewed as a whole. This thesis takes as its starting point the confusion of Edgar Bergen when struggling to justify his philosophical conversations with his dummy: who is at work here, and where would agency reside in such a dialogue? That it serves us to assume the 'theory of mind' explanation for the behaviours of others, and by extension place ourselves within a scaffold of causal motives, says more for the use value of such a theory than for the presence of 'mind'. Why this 'theory of mind' rather than any other? Because that is how mind and motive are presented to us during our acquisition of a spoken language. Mediation, transformation and referral: this thesis argues that these are qualities which characterize ventriloquism, and also the human means of perception and self-perception. There are a number of unfulfilled potentialities that reach their heaven in the unified self. The 'drive' to unity culls these lost futures and condemns us to another fulfilment, that of'oneness'. Most of these resolutions regarding self are predicated on what is 'in' and what is 'out'; how does the discriminatory self establish grounds for inclusivity or exclusivity? This thesis means to provide a lexicon of other possibilities regarding the conceptualization of self.