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This Site
is made possible through the auspices of

The International R.D. Laing Institute



Bibliography Main Page [link]
Politics and Other Works



The Voice of Experience

Pantheon 1982
Penguin 1983

Contents
ABE


· Summary ·

The Voice of Experience, published in 1982, is the most difficult of Laing's books to summarize succinctly. Like The Facts of Life, it continued to address the mysterious nexus between the brain and "experience", and attempted to craft a credible account of "intrauterine experience" and the way it is encoded in adult symptomatology. Though more elegant and persuasive than The Facts of Life, particularly on the mind/brain issue, it still did not provide a cogent explanation for or an adequate theoretical linkage between the disparate phases of his work on phantasy, leaving the reader to draw their own conclusions.

Another theme that runs through both books, but developed at considerably greater length in The Voice of Experience, is Laing's critique of scientism, his emphasis on the irreducibly subjective nature of experience, and his repeated calls for epistemic humility. These, in turn, were linked with an approach he called "epistemic anarchy" - a term borrowed from philosopher Paul Feyerabend - and the "principal of undecidability", concepts that appeared here for the first and last time. Laing's emphasis on the irreducibly subjective nature of experience recalled the work of existential/phenomenological thinkers from Kierkegaard through Sartre, but his critique of scientism (and the heartlessness of mainstream psychiatry) calls to mind the much earlier work of Blais Pascal (1623- 1709), whose book The Thoughts (1662) contains the memorable phrase: "The heart has its reasons, of which reason is ignorant".

 

· Contents ·

Acknowledgements

Part One

1

Experience and Science

2

The Objective Look

3

The Diagnostic Look

4

The Possibility of Experience

5

Birth and Before

6

The Prenatal Bond

Part Two

7

Embryologems, Psychologems, Mythologems

8

Dual Unity

9

The Tie and the Cut-Off

10

Entry

11

Egg, Sphere and Self

12

Recessions and Regressions

Coda


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