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Unknowability and the Concept of the Brain 

Unknowability and the Concept of the Brain
Unknowability and the Concept of the Brain
Neuropsychoanalysis in Practice: Brain, Self and Objects

Georg Northoff


Chapter 2 follows up on the transcendental approach to the brain and discusses the relevant epistemic implications (e.g. what we can and cannot know about our own brain). This can be regarded as an extension of Freud's concept of the “psychic apparatus” and his claim that we may remain unable to fully cognize and know it independent of ourselves and our knowledge of it. Here I focus on possible similarities and analogies between Freud's claims about what we can (and cannot) know about the psychic apparatus and our possible (and impossible) knowledge about our brain. I then distinguish between different concepts of the brain, namely the brain as observed, the brain as functioning, and the brain as experienced. After a discussion of the empirical, epistemic, and conceptual relevance of these different concepts of the brain, it will become clear that we need to target the brain as functioning rather than the brain as observed in order to better understand the neuronal predispositions of brain–self and brain–object differentiation.

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