6. Intellectual Insurrection: Waging Mental War
So, the final chapter of my Society's Implicit War series. Interesting to be here. This has been a long project. I had the idea back in May when I started Discipline & Punish, I finished outlining the six chapters around the middle of July, I published chapter I on July 23d, and here I am, closing in on this project less than a month later. Pretty odd.
But anyways, the point of this final chapter is to explain how Foucault's work is supposed to enable us to wage an intellectual insurrection against the power/knowledge that is produced by modern institutions. This insurrection is to be waged first and foremost within our own minds. Once we have done battle with our own culturally determined thoughts we can then extend it to our relationships with others. This war is therefore both personal and social, both local and global, both micro and macro, and as I will explain, both neurological and political.
I'm going to handle this in six sections. First, I'm going to explain how Foucault's histories, which he described as histories of the present, are explicitly intended to be tools for contemporary power struggles, contemporary battles of power/knowledge. Second, I'm going to return to the notion of mental models and tacit theory and explain how these are the levels of our own mind that we must battle. Third, I'm going to return to the notion of open-strategies (which I discussed in chapter II) and explain how we can attain a sort of freedom within their deterministic nature. Fourth, I'm going to elaborate an idea I have called 'meta-strategic thinking' and how this would be the best way conceptualize freedom within open-strategies. Fifth, I'm going to show how neuroplasticity confirms that we can wage an intellectual war, and how it offers some insights as to how we should wage this intellectual war. Lastly, I'm going to explain how mindfulness is the key factor in waging this intellectual insurrection, how this lines up with neuroplasticity, and how Foucault's work is meant to enable a sort of mindfulness. Here is a table of contents for this last chapter:
6. Intellectual Insurrection: Waging Mental War
History and the Domain of Intellectual Insurrection
a. Histories of the Present as Tools for Battle
b. The War Against Our Mental Models of Reality
Strategy and Intellectual Insurrection
c. Freedom Within Open-Strategies
d. Meta-Strategic Thinking
Intellectual Insurrection and Neuroplasticity
e. Foucauldian Insurrection and Neuroplasticity: The Neural War
f. The Strategy of Mindfulness
History and the Domain of Intellectual Insurrection
In this first subsection I'll be handling two things. First, I'll be discussing the role of history, and Foucault's 'histories of the present' in particular, in waging an intellectual insurrection against contemporary ideas. Then I'll be discussing how these histories of the present are meant to be used to break down the models of the world that we unconsciously rely on.
Histories of the Present as Tools for Battle
So, how are we to understand Foucault when he tells us that he is writing 'histories of the present'? What does this mean, and why is it important? Well, it essentially means that his histories are meant to provide a way of gauging our current historical moment. His main concern is the application of historical knowledge to the present moment. Further, Foucault believes that these histories of the present are only useful if they are tactically useful in contemporary power struggles. Writing a history of madness, for example, would allow someone with a mental illness to recognize that they are not necessarily 'insane' by nature, but are rather labeled that way due to complex historical processes that brought the concept of madness into being. This would provide a certain amount of conceptual space that may help someone get a different perspective on their own experience, and thus alter the way they live their lives for the better. Or a history of sexuality may allow individuals to see that they do not have to be subject to their desires, and they are not necessarily 'gay' or anything of that nature, but that they are dealing with a powerful historical construct that frames their experience. In other words, these histories of the present must be used as tools for battle against contemporary forms of knowledge.
In particular, Foucault is trying to break down established notions of 'truth', so that people can think of themselves in new ways. Foucault believed it was important to use history to attack established truths because of the relationship between truth and power. Indeed, Foucault claims that "the truth-power relation remains at the heart of all mechanisms of punishment and that it is still to be found in contemporary penal practice – but in a quite different form and with very different effects" (55). In other words, that the coercive power of disciplinary institutions is possible only because they produce 'truth' about people and their behavior. Foucault believed that a history of these institutions could expose their claims to truth as erroneous, and therefore free people from the coercive power it holds over their minds.
Foucault is so clear that these histories are meant to illuminate our present conditions: "Thus, in the shelter of these two considerable protectors [science and judicial institutions], and, indeed, acting as a link between them, or a place of exchange, a carefully worked out technique for the supervision of norms has continued to develop right up to the present day" (296). He believes that he is writing the history of a process that still defines our current moment. Again, it could not be clearer that Foucault believes his work is relevant to the present: "the model prison opened at Fleury-Merogis in 1969 simply took over in its overall plan the panoptic star-shape that made such a stir in 1836 at the Petite-Roquette. It was the same machinery of power that assumed a real body and a symbolic form. But what role was it supposed to play?" (271). He even ends the book with a reference to the present: "At this point I end a book that must serve as a historical background to various studies of the power of normalization and the formation of knowledge in modern society" (308). He believes his work can only be useful if it is applied to our present lives.
In particular, Foucault is explicit about how his histories are meant to be used as a way to reveal the contingency of our seemingly infallible modern institutions: "This book is intended as a correlative history of the modern soul and of a new power to judge; a genealogy of the present scientifico-legal complex from which the power to punish derives its bases, justifications and rules, from which it extends its effects and by which it masks its exorbitant singularity" (23). Foucault's use of the word genealogy is to be noted here. Some have said that the difference between archeology and genealogy is hard to draw, but to me it is quite clear. Archeology is the method of historical study that digs up old ways of thinking and exposes our contemporary forms of thought as contingent. Genealogy, however, is the tactical application of that historical knowledge to the present. In the above quotation Foucault quite clearly tells us that this history of the prisons is meant to show how science and the law have become intertwined and thus justify modern forms of violence and coercion. Genealogy is about using historical knowledge to battle the contemporary discourses of the state and its use of force.
In fact, Foucault's entire project revolves around this tactical application of history. Late in his career (1982), he began to refer to his project as the genealogy of the modern subject. During D&P, however, he was referring to it as 'the genealogy of the modern soul'. He admitted clearly that the history of the prison systems is only one part in the tactical application of history: "The history of this 'micro-physics' of the punitive power would then be a genealogy or an element in a genealogy of the modern 'soul'. Rather than seeing the soul as the reactivated remnants of an ideology, one would see it as the present correlative of a certain technology of power over the body" (29). The soul is the unconscious of sorts, it is the inaccessible conscience that is shaped by the coercive practices of disciplinary power. He wants us to understand the deepest parts of ourselves by recognizing that they have been formed by historically constructed thought.
Foucault's histories of the present, therefore, are meant to be tools for contemporary battle. If modern institutions are indeed waging a war against us through forms of representation (as I argued in chapters 1-4), then we must fight our own war of ideas. His histories are thus a means of exposing the historical nature of this institutional power, and this is supposed to allow us to wage an intellectual war of sorts against the State's discourses of truth.
I believe that this war against our own minds, and the State's influence on our minds, should be thought of using the technical terms I introduced in chapter 5, mental models and tacit theories.
The War Against Our Mental Models of Reality
As I explained in chapter 5, neuroscientists and philosophers of mind often refer to mental models and tacit psychological theories. Both ideas refer to the unconscious structures of our thought that shape our daily perceptions.
I think that when Foucault discusses the 'soul' he is referring to these deep and unconscious parts of the mind that structure our thoughts. He always seems to be concerned with the way that our thoughts are structured on an unconscious level. I believe, therefore, that these notions of mental models and tacit theories are useful in specifying exactly what changes to the mind we should be trying to make.
Consider our mental models of physical and mental health. We typically think of ourselves as having bodies composed of various parts and organs, each with a different function. We consider doctors to be experts that can help us understand our bodies, diagnose our disorders, and prescribe treatments. We think in terms of sanity and insanity. That medication can help us overcome our mental diseases, and so on. These perceptions of our bodies and minds, however, are not universal things. Our brains do not have these hardwired models of bodies as having knees, arms, legs, spleens, livers, etc.. Nor do our brains have an intuitive understanding of sanity or insanity. All of these ideas are mental models that our brain has absorbed through our exposure to culture. These are culturally constructed notions, not essential facts.
Our mental models of everything come from culture for the most part. Think of all the countless models we have of reality that probably have a history. We understand men and women to be certain ways, races to be certain ways. We believe so many things on an unconscious level, not because they are natural, but because they are cultural. These are our mental models of reality.
I will go ahead and claim that every single of of Foucault's histories is about exposing one of our mental models and calling it out for not being natural. Madness, medicine, science, prisons, sexuality: all of these things appear to be natural because they have seeped into our brain on such a deep level, because they have become a mental model that our brain uses. But Foucault's purpose is to expose these mental models for precisely what they are: models that are akin to fictions.
The first step in Foucault's project of insurrection, his project of transformation, is therefore the attack on our most common mental models of reality. Once these mental models have been broken down with histories of the present, we can begin to transform ourselves in novel ways, we can begin to explore new ways of thinking.
In my essay of 6/13 I referred to Foucault's work as exposing the contents of our a priori imagination. But now I feel much more comfortable referring to his histories as exposing our mental models of reality. I also think that this brings the conversation much closer to the neurosciences, which will be helpful in the final sections of this chapter.
So this is the level that our insurrection has to attain: it has to modify our unconscious models of the world. We have to modify the default settings of our brains. And this is the level that Foucault intends his histories of the present to function on. He wants to expose these seemingly 'natural' ways of thinking as historically constructed models that our mind relies on, but doesn't need to rely on.
Now I'll turn to strategy as it relates to this idea of intellectual insurrection.
Strategy and Intellectual Insurrection
In chapter 2 I explained Foucault's notion of 'open-strategies': society develops a coherent strategy that is larger than the will of any individual, but can be tapped into and co-opted by certain individuals with certain interests. That is why these overarching social strategies are 'open', they can be utilized by able parties. This idea of an overarching strategy, however, immediately, to me, implies a sort of determinism. It means that we have to play by society's rules to a certain extent. It means that we have to exist within an already determined social environment, and find a way to be free within that already defined space. Perhaps this is what Foucault meant when he talked about 'limit-experiences' or a 'limit-attitude': that we have to learn to ground our experiences and attitudes within the limits already set by society's overarching strategies. So here I want to explore how the intellectual insurrection can function within those strategies. I'll do this by talking about freedom within open-strategies, and then by talking about what I am calling 'meta-strategic thinking'. Good luck to me.
Freedom Within Society's Open-Strategies
Now, as I said above, the notion of open-strategies is interesting because it implies a sort of determinism. So the issue becomes: How am I to exert something called free will if society already possesses this overarching strategy that has already set the terms of my discourse, already set the limits of my thought and behavior? Fascinating question. Before I provide an answer I would like to provide two quotations to show that Foucault explicitly reckoned with the deterministic elements of being caught up in one of society's open strategies. He quotes two nineteenth century figures who hinted at the role of determinism in crime: "They assigned the origin of delinquency not to the individual criminal (he was merely the occasion or the first victim), but to society: 'The man who kills you is not free not to kill you. It is society or, to be more precise, bad social organization that is responsible'" (287). Foucault himself then corroborates this with another nineteenth century quotations: "There is not, therefore, a criminal nature, but a play of forces which, according to the class to which individuals belong, will lead them to power or to prison: if born poor, today's magistrates would no doubt be in the convict-ships; and the convicts, if they had been well born, 'would be presiding in the courts and dispensing justice'" (289).
With the notion of strategies, therefore, it is very easy to draw the conclusions about determinism. Because our choices are already so limited by these strategies It seems as though we are stuck in a certain sense, as though we are not free to really choose. The biggest issue is that we may not even be aware of these strategies. We may not even be able to identify their existence, let alone their history or anything like that. This should be obvious, but I'll just say that Foucault's genealogies are meant to expose these overarching strategies, and are meant to provide us with a perspective on our own behavior that is supposed to enable action that is more free, or thought that is more free. So once we have used history to identify these overarching strategies, once we have illuminated the determined nature of our thoughts and actions within them how are we to be free? My answer is contained in the term 'meta-strategic thinking'.
I think that this notion of meta-strategy may provide an answer to this question of how to acquire freedom within a determined social strategy. I also think this notion is a bit sloppy and that I don't really understand it fully. But I'll do my best to explain what I am trying to say.
Once we have identified the overarching social strategy that is determining our behavior, the task becomes to create a new strategy for ourselves that can function within that strategy. When we recognize that society has an interest in defining criminality in a certain way, for example, we can begin to try and create new and original conceptions of criminality within our own minds. We can alter our thoughts and behavior to reflect this new personal strategy of ours: we could be more forgiving to those who have committed crimes, and could treat people differently that we associate with criminality. How many more examples could I come up with? I'm not sure. But generally the idea is to come up with a new and original idea of personal strategy that is grounded in relation and in opposition to society's open strategy.
Perhaps society's overarching social strategy of capitalism is frustrating for us. It limits our freedom because it tells us we need money to live, that we need to get a good job and live a respectable consumer life. Oh what a constraint money is. A fiction that holds such real power, that buys homes, food, nice things, pleasures. But what if we were to recognize capitalism for its history and see that it wasn't how life needed to be, but how we were determined to behave by this moments overarching strategy. Well, we could adjust our personal strategy so that we regarded that overarching strategy as secondary. We can concede that we will earn as much money as we need to live, but overall we will be pursuing a different strategy that doesn't require money. Perhaps we will be pursuing a strategy of a loving existence, a strategy of a mindful existence, a strategy of a scholarly existence.
We need to find ways of escaping these deterministic strategies by developing our own strategies. Because we can never fully escape these open-strategies we can only hope to work within them and in relation to them. This is what I mean by meta-strategy, that we are using our own personal strategy that necessarily has to take place within an overarching social strategy. To think meta-strategically requires that we become aware of society's open-strategies, and that we then constitute our own personal strategy within that open-strategy. As I described above, we can use Foucault's histories (or other people's histories, Benedict Anderson, for example) to become aware of these deterministic strategies. Then we can use that awareness of these open-strategies to develop a unique and original strategy in which we would be, at the very least working within society's open strategies, if not actually working against these open strategies.
In short, if we want to wage intellectual insurrection then we have to grapple with the deterministic nature of society's open-strategies. We have to use history to break down its seemingly natural nature, we have to expose it for the contingent strategy that it is. Then we need to think meta-strategically so that we can develop our own strategy that is designed to work either within or against these overarching deterministic strategies. In the last section of this chapter I want to talk about the strategy of mindfulness, which I believe would be the best way to wage a personal war that could perhaps become larger. But before I'll do that I just want to introduce neuroplasticity into this picture of intellectual insurrection.
But let me summarize first. So I've claimed that Foucault's histories are meant to be tools for battle against our present forms of power/knowledge. They are supposed to give us a new awareness of our historical moment that will allow us to resist the State's discourses of truth in different ways. Further, I believe that this should come back to the level of mental models. I think we need to change the way our mind thinks on an unconscious level, and that mental models is the best way to conceptualize this. I then argued that society's open-strategies were a major source of determinism, and were therefore a major hindrance in waging these mental wars. I claimed that Foucault's histories need to illuminate these open-strategies and reveal their self evident appearance as historically contingent. This exposure of society's open-strategies should then enable us to think meta-strategically, so that we can begin to think creatively and develop a personal strategy for our intellectual insurrection. On to plasticity.
Intellectual Insurrection, Neuroplasticity, and Foucauldian Mindfulness
In these final two sections I want to introduce two key concepts that corroborate the idea that we can wage a war within our own minds. The first idea is that of neuroplasticity, and the second is that of Buddhist mindfulness. Neuroplasticity is crucial to all of this. We have to believe that by thinking differently we can make real changes to our brains. And as it turns our, Buddhist mindfulness has an intimate relationship with neuroplastic change, and in particular a form of self-directed neuroplasticity. Ultimately I'll be trying to say that Foucault's intellectual insurrection is a form of mindful self-directed neuroplasticity.
Foucauldian Insurrection and Neuroplasticity: The Neural War
So the first thing I want to do in this section is explain how disciplinary power functioned by creating certain forms of neuroplastic changes in the brains of citizens. Disciplinary power could only penetrate minds if it created real changes in our brain. This becomes so obvious when Foucault says that disciplinary reformers wanted "a permanent recodification of the mind of the citizens; eliminating crime by those obstacles place before the idea of crime; acting invisibly and uselessly on the 'soft fibres of the brain'" (130). It is only by changing individuals on these deep, neural levels that disciplinary society could cause its power to function automatically in the minds of citizens. Again, a reformer said that "on the soft fibres of brains is founded the unshakable base of the soundest Empires" (103). The reformers thought explicitly in terms of rewiring our brains. If we are to pose a legitimate threat to them we must also think in terms of the brain. If we are to wage an adequate intellectual insurrection, if we are to really become guerillas of power/knowledge, we also must think in terms of modifying our brains. This also lines up with what the psychoanalyst and neuroplastician Norman Doidge claims. Doidge argues: "Civilization is a series of techniques in which the hunter-gatherer brain teaches itself to rewire itself" (298). At some point in the eighteenth century groups of individuals started trying to direct and craft society to their image. These disciplinary reforms, therefore, were the development of new techniques of neuroplastic change. They are changing our brains to make us more disciplined, to make us fit better in their open-strategies.
In fact, the techniques used by disciplinary society are ones that encourage neuroplastic change: "Its three great methods – establish rhythms, impose particular occupations, regulate the cycles of repetition – were soon to be found in schools, workshops and hospitals" (149). By regulating behavior disciplinary society creates the perfect environment for neuroplastic change. Rhythms, particular occupations, and mostly importantly repetition, are the key things in neuroplastic change. Doidge describes, not in those terms, but in similar terms, how repeated behavior is precisely what leads to neuroplastic change. It seems undeniable that disciplinary society would operate by forcing certain forms of neuroplastic change without our awareness. And perhaps without their awareness.
This gives me such a clear opportunity to frame this idea of intellectual insurrection in terms of neuroplasticity. And fortunately, Doidge gives me even more ways to frame neuroplasticity in terms of war. In fact, some neuroplasticians claim that there is a constant war of neurons going on in our own brain. Because neurons function on the "use it or lose it" principle, "There is an endless war of nerves going on inside each of our brains. If we stop exercising our mental skills, we do not just forget them: the brain map space for those skills is turned over to the skills we practice instead" (Doidge, 59). This aplies to all kinds of thought. If we only ever think in the terms that society gives us then our brain will be overrun with these ways of thinking. But if we take charge, if we begin to intellectually revolt and explore new ways of thinking, then we will be able to take charge of our neural space. We will be able to weaken the neural connections created by social standards and we will be making more neural connections for our new ways of thinking. The goal is to override society's strategies and to make our own strategies the dominant presence in our brains. This can only happen through thought, repeated thought, attentive thought.
This has to be a neural war that is fought against the seemingly 'natural' status of many of our cultural standards. Foucault often attacks sexuality, prisons, and other institutions because he wants to show that they are not natural or self-evident. That they are new, unique, and historically contingent. Doidge also comments on the way that neuroplasticity makes our cultures seem 'natural'. "Because we could change," Doidge claims, "we did not always know what was natural in us and what was acquired from culture" (Doidge, 315). Our brains must be the central battle ground for this intellectual insurrection. Our brains must be the place where we overcome society's 'self-evident' appearance. It must be the place where we expose it as a false model of reality.
Lastly, there is evidence that the study of history can become a way to introduce neuroplastic change into our minds. This is confirmed by Doidge and it is perfect because it lends a lot of weight to Foucault's notion of the 'reactivation' of old techniques. Foucault believed that throughout history there were forms of thought, techniques, strategies, and ways of behaving that we have lost touch with. But that by studying history we would be able to bring these forms of thought back into our own minds, and we could thus use them as a starting point for contemporary power struggles. Foucault believed, for example, that the ancient Greek idea of the care of the self could be reactivated and might be a useful starting point for modern ethics. Indeed, this notion of 'reactivating' old forms of thought is confirmed by Doidge's work on neuroplasticity: "Our brains are vastly different, in fine detail, from the brains of our ancestors.... In each stage of cultural development... the average human had to learn complex new skills and abilities that all involve massive brain change.... Each one of us can actually learn an incredibly elaborate set of ancestrally developed skills and abilities in our lifetimes, in a sense generating a re-creation of this history of cultural evolution via brain plasticity" (288, Doidge). This also lines up incredibly well with R.G. Collingwood's notion of reenactment, and Alvin Goldman's work on simulation theory, but this is not the time nor the place. But the bottom line is that Foucault's notion of reactivating old techniques is confirmed by contemporary work on neuroplasticity. History must be the starting point for intellectual insurrection not only because it reveals the contingency of our institutions, but because it offers us evidence of forms of thought that can help us create brand new neuroplastic changes. Think of all the thoughts people had in the past that were associated with certain types of brains. We can recreate those brains in our own head, we can recover those ways of thinking and modify our brain so that we can think differently than we do now. We can wage intellectual insurrection with this dual function of history, its ability to expose contemporary thought as contingent, and its ability to provide us examples of new ways of thinking that can be actualized through neuroplasticity.
Foucault and the Strategy of Mindfulness
I think that at the end of the day Foucault wants us to be able to pay attention in different and new ways. I think he wants us to live and perceive the world actively. I think he wants us to be mindful. But mindful in a unique, historically informed, political sense. He wants us to be mindful of the historically contingent nature of our institutions and of our own ways of thinking. I think Foucault, however, knows that paying attention is hard in our society. Paying attention can be so hard because our world is so familiar. All our ways of thinking and behaving may "all seem 'natural' to us, because they are so deeply wired into our brains. When we change cultures, we are shocked to learn that these customs are not natural at all" (299). Foucault's histories are meant to provide a sort of 'culture shock' about our own culture. Doidge argues that for most people "culture shock is brain shock" (299).
I think that Foucault's goal is to provide a brain shock. I think he was aware of the way that culture limited our perspectives. He always talked about limit-attitudes, limit-experiences, so on. The limitations of his and our thought were always his concern. I think he knew what Norman Doidge knows, that to "a larger degree than we suspected, culture determines what we can and cannot perceive" (Doidge, 300, italics in original). The goal is to overcome this difficulty of perceiving reality accurately. The goal is to achieve a new form of mindfulness about the world around us. Doidge gives examples of people who just didn't "know how to look" (304). Other philosophers, like John Gray, believed that seeing should be the ultimate purpose of life. That paying attention should be our highest calling.
But paying attention is not easy because our plastic brains are often modified by culture and we therefore cannot pay attention to certain things because we regard them as natural. My question is: Can Foucault help us look at the modern Western world?
I think yes. And I think this comes along with two conclusions. That Foucault's histories are meant to enable a sort of mindfulness. And that this mindfulness is meant to bring about self-directed neuroplastic change. I think I've already established the relationship between Foucault and mindfulness elsewhere, perhaps in this writing, or if not then definitely in my writing of 6/13/10. So what I really want to do is establish the connection between mindfulness and neuroplastic change.
Jeffrey Schwartz's work provides an incredibly strong link between mindfulness and neuroplastic changes. I have already written on his work with OCD patients quite a lot, and won't rehash it here. But I will discuss the importance of a brain chemical that is released when we pay attention. It is called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). BDNF is the chemical that is released when we deliberately pay attention to things, and it is the chemical that leads to long lasting neural change. It is also the chemical that is saturating babies brains during their critical periods of learning. During critical periods children pay attention to everything. They just look all the time at everything and they learn learn learn. It is the presence of BDNF that causes children to learn so much.
This leads me to the Buddhist idea of 'seeing like a child'. Why is that important? Why does it matter? Well, I'll argue that it matters because paying attention releases BDNF in our brains and leads to neuroplastic change. So when seeing like a child what we are doing is seeing like a being that wants to change its brain. And remember the key factor is attention. When we make deliberate effort to pay attention our brain releases this chemical.
So Foucault's histories, with their attack on present forms of perception, are meant to make us pay attention to the world in new ways. They are meant to enable a sort of mindfulness about our own thoughts and behavior. They are, therefore, meant to cause the release of BDNF and are meant to enable long lasting neuroplastic change. Foucault's work is undoubtedly a form of mindful self-directed neuroplasticity.
Having established the link to simulation theory of mind in part II, I'd like to make a few remarks about how Foucault's strategy of mindfulness applies to simulation. Once we have been told that the modern implicit war is being waged by forcing us to simulate other people's minds in certain ways, then we need to start thinking about how we simulate other people's minds. This reminds me of David Foster Wallace and my writing of 6/13/10. I basically wrote that we needed to find a way to modify our unconscious so that we could start exercising some control over how we thought about other people. This is what I think Foucault's work, and my writing on this work, should do: it should make us mindful of how we simulate other people's minds. We need to start using history to undermine the concepts that we use to think of other people. We need to stop thinking of people in generic terms of race, class, gender, criminality, etc.. Instead, we need to find new and creative ways to simulate other people's minds. We need to learn to exercise creative empathy, we need to learn to simulate other people's thoughts in new ways so that we can forgive them. This is actually quite directly linked to my writing of 6/13/10. It is nice that I am able to articulate this now. Again, I think I lost the link to simulation in the last two chapters, but this is the connection. It is creative empathy/simulation. Foucauldian mindfulness needs to enable neuroplastic change that enables mindful and creative simulation of other people's thoughts.
This is how we must wage our intellectual insurrection. We have to battle our own minds through mindfulness. We have to take charge of the plasticity of our brains. We have to utilize history, and other disciplines, as forms of simulation to change the way we think. We have to wage our intellectual insurrection by being mindful about how we simulate other minds, and thus how we change our own brains.
Summary of the Whole Project
Well, can't believe I'm at the end of this thing. Great project to have completed. Huge push for me. But this will be a cursory summary. In the first two chapters I wanted to establish that most of social order should be considered a war of sorts, a war of minds, a war of representation. Kings used to wage an explicit war against their own people. But now the government has waged war by controlling the way that reality is represented to us. The explicit war became an implicit war of representation. Then I established the link to philosophy of mind in chapters three and four. I said that because Foucault defines power as relational we need to bring philosophy of mind into it. I then argued that simulation theory of mind was the way to go, and that therefore the war was waged by getting us to simulate people's thoughts in certain ways. That it was a move from low- to high-level simulational mindreading in which we were encouraged to abstract people heavily. Then in these last two chapters I explained how we can begin to wage a guerilla war of power/knowledge, how we could wage an intellectual insurrection in our own minds. I argued that history had to be the starting point because it illuminated the contingency of our ways of living and thinking. I then argued that we needed to learn to think meta-strategically so as to gain an element of freedom within society's deterministic strategies. And lastly I claimed that we needed to use history to behave mindfully because it was the only way to counteract the neuroplastic tactics of disciplinary society. We have to take charge of our own minds and brains. We have to be mindful so that we can attack our mental models of reality. We have to recognize that society is changing our brains, and that we therefore have to try to change our brains to how we want them to be. We need to develop our own strategies and try to implement them through forms of self-directed neuroplasticity that depends on mindfulness. And that history and simulation are perhaps the ways in which we can find original ways of thinking and thus find original brains.