Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday Quotations: The One Where the Fictional Construct of Presenting Thoughts as Dialogue is Challenged

"But how does this intensely private, individualistic view of the mind account for the following scene in the sit-com Friends. One friend, Phoebe, lets slip to another, Rachel, that all the other friends think that she, Rachel, is still in love with Ross. Rachel protests that this is not true and that she is over him, but then she eventually agrees that yes, all right, she is still in love with him. 'But why didn't you tell me?' Rachel demands to know. 'Because we thought you knew!' exclaims Phoebe. What this eschange appears to show is that Rache's feelings about Ross were more accessible to the other friends than they were to her. They all knew that she was still in love with Ross even though she did not know herself. On the other hand, we should not go too far in this direction because the conversation also shows the knowledge that people have of the inner states of others can be patchy. Rachel did not know that the other friends knew, and the others did not that Rachel did not know! In a sense, the humor in this scene is a new take on the familiar, cliched joke about the two psychiatrists (or the two behaviorists, depending on your prejudice) who say to each other when meeting, 'You're fine, how am I?' However, the Friends scene is more interesting, it seems to me, for two reasons: it acknowledges that all of us, not just specialists in the study of the mind, have some sort of access to the thinking of others; and it also acknowledges that thought can be private and inaccessible as well as public and shared." --Alan Palmer, Fictional Minds.

Later Days.

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