TUESDAY, October 2, 2007 at 8:00 p.m.
Abram Kardiner Lecture
Unconscious mental conflict and our democratic culture
Freud's notion of the unconscious presupposes as a *conceptual prior*, the idea of a divided or conflicted mind to account for our irrational behaviour and our neuroses and anxieties. That one of the conflicted segments of the mind should be unconscious, and that indeed the internal mental conflict itself should be unconscious, is a further empirical hypothesis of Freud's, as are the various specific claims about the unconscious sexual aetiology of our neuroses and anxieties and irrational behaviour.
A primary and sustained interest of Abram Kardiner was to apply psychoanalytic ideas to the study of culture and society and politics. In this lecture, bearing his name, I will present an analysis of the religiosity of the heartland in contemporary America in terms of the idea of a divided mind and of an unconscious internal mental conflict in ordinary people to cope with the pervasive disenchantment of American modernity; and through this analysis I will explore the scope and the nature of our democratic culture.”
Akeel Bilgrami received his first degree in English literature at Bombay University and then went to Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, where he got a B.A in philosophy, politics, and economics. He has a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Chicago, where he wrote a dissertation on the indeterminacy of translation. He is currently Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University and the Director of Columbia's Heyman Center for the Humanities. He is the author of Belief and Meaning: The Unity and Locality of Mental Content (Blackwell 1992), Self-Knowledge and Resentment (Harvard University Press, 2006), Politics and the Moral Psychology of Identity (forthcoming 2007, Harvard University Press), and is presently writing a book on Gandhi's philosophy. Professor Bilgrami has also written over fifty articles on subjects ranging from the philosophy of language and mind to politics, culture and moral psychology.