Consciousness and Loneliness: Theoria and Praxis
by Ben Lazare Mijuscovic
Ben Lazare Mijuscovic addresses the problem of loneliness in his recent book Consciousness and Loneliness: Theoria and Praxis. Building on his prior work, Mijuscovic utilizes an interdisciplinary approach to present a metaphysical subjective dualism in favor of a "substantive theory of the self and the innate quality of loneliness" (Mijuscovic, 2019, p.3). The author challenges reductionist materialism and scientific determinism, arguing that neither of these adequately account for the activity of human consciousness or the self's "inescapable sense of enclosed subjective isolation" (Mijuscovic, 2019, p.4). Instead, Mijuscovic demonstrates a psychological framework in which the self is motivated by a fear of loneliness and the desire for intimacy. The author thoroughly substantiates his perspective via a 'History of Ideas' format, which engages Plato's metaphor of 'the Battle between the Gods and the Giants,' an allusion to the historical debate between idealists and materialists. Ultimately, these two groups and their allies attempt to address the question: can senseless matter think? The idealists, with whom Mijuscovic identifies, assert the reality of the self, reflexive self-consciousness, and the spontaneity of the mind. For the materialists, the mind is deterministically relegated to the brain and chemical interactions (Mijuscovic, 2019, p. 9).
Mijuscovic addresses the problem of thinking matter and a unified self-consciousness by arguing in favor of an immaterial and active consciousness, partially via Plato's model of multi-level qualitatively distinctive consciousness. Within these layers can be found the subconscious; a mysterious well of spontaneous activity that manifests desires. Having asserted the reality of the subconscious, Mijuscovic criticizes materialists for dismissing qualitative experiences within the subconscious mind, arguing instead that they cannot be reduced to sensations. Consider the questions: Are one's thoughts in space? Or, can you give a physical description of a thought? The author would argue that you cannot. Materialist interpretations of consciousness should not be interpreted as established science, but as a worldview that "reduces all reality to matter and motion" (Mijuscovic, 2019, p. 50). For example, Mijuscovic is critical of Hume's notion of a temporal succession of impressions, which interprets the mind as simply passive...