Science of the Psyche
Seminar at the 42nd GSA Annual conference in Pittsburgh by Sarah Pourciau in collaboration with Jocelyn Holland (UC Santa Barbara)
The »stuff« of the psyche, whether conceived as the wind of the spirit or as brain, has always posed a challenge to science, and thus to our ability to agree about what we regard as knowledge. The question of how to quantify the qualities of the mind (Geist, pneuma, esprit)—of how to measure its indubitably effective yet stubbornly immaterial forms of force—has acquired a particular urgency over the course of the past two centuries, as part of the scientific quest for a holistic understanding of the world. This seminar will facilitate research into the various »psychophysical« paradigms within which such attempts at quantification have historically taken place, emphasizing those which have received relatively less critical attention. The influence of such paradigms extends to every domain of cultural production, from literature, visual art and philosophy to the origins of media theory, sociology, experimental psychology, cognitive science, and psychoanalysis. The co-organizers of the seminar believe that a focus on the corpus of texts representative of 19th and 20th century approaches to measuring, counting, categorizing, or otherwise capturing psychic phenomena has the potential to lead to formal collaborations and publications of interest to scholars in a wide number of disciplines.
Sarah Pourciau, a literary scholar, is research associate at the ZfL with the project »The Broken Medium. An Austrian Modernist Theory of the Event«.