CFS Lecture by Siri Hustvedt: "Borderlands: First, Second, and Third Person Adventures in Crossing Disciplines."

Lecture by Siri Hustvedt

Siri Hustvedt is an American novelist and essayist. Her books include: The Blindfold (1992), The Enchantment of Lily Dahl (1996), What I Loved (2003), The Sorrows of an American (2008), and The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves (2010), Living, Thinking, Looking (2012). Her work has been translated into twenty-nine languages.

Abstract for Borderlands: “First, Second, and Third Person Adventures in Crossing Disciplines.” 

Siri Hustvedt - Polfoto.dkIn this paper, I address the epistemological difficulties involved in creating theories of the self and subjectivity that cross disciplines, especially ones that hope to unite the hard sciences and the humanities. The third-person “objective” view of neurobiology can bring insights into the synaptic and neurochemical workings of the brain, but these biological realities do not describe individual phenomenal experience. Brain-based studies often ignore the role of language and culture in constituting persons in the world, just as constructionist continental theories often ignore human biology for abstract bodies made of words and ideas. I argue that all theoretical positions rely on metaphors. The very notion of the hard sciences and the soft humanities and arts partake of deeply inculcated and often unconscious ideas about sexual difference. By drawing on work in analytical philosophy, phenomenology, the history of science, social theory, and neuroscience, I attempt to delineate the difficulties of categorization in general and the benefits of applying multiple theoretical points of view to the same problem.


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