Epistemology Brownbag: Lauren Abruzzo

Date:  May 29th, 2019

Time/Location: 12:00-1:30; Kresge 3438

Title: The Epistemology of Self-Deception and Queer Identity

Abstract: Self-deception is an epistemic phenomenon where one believes a false belief, ~p, despite having evidence and even cognizing that p is true, because one is motivated to not believe p. Relatedly, repression, as originally theorized by Freud, is a psychological phenomenon where an unpleasant idea fails to reach one’s conscious awareness in order to avoid the discomfort that its surfacing would cause. Now, say that there are examples of repression that constitute self-deception. Say, too, that there are cases in which people in the West/Global North fail to believe that they are queer via this type of self-deception. Under these assumptions, this paper aims to show how the concept of Freudian repression is useful to an analysis of self-deception, using queer cases as illustrative. My first claim is that the theoretical framework of repression solves a central problem in the epistemology of self-deception, as shown by examples of queer repression. My second claim is that queer cases of repression expose the fact that self-deception can be socially significant, both in terms of its behavioral manifestations and underlying causes. This paper, it should be noted, will not be interested in the psychological facets of Freud’s theory, which has largely been refuted in more recent scientific research. Instead, my argument will evaluate how notions of the unconscious, consciousness, and repression are useful for examining the epistemological and social significance of self-deception.

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