Construal Level Theory: Musings

Table Of Contents

  • Introduction
    • Context
    • Overview of CLT
  • Insight Scratchpad
    • Mental Health
    • Skills
    • Thinking Modes
  • Application
    • Self-Diagnosis
    • Theory Integration



This weekend, I started digging into Construal Level Theory (CLT). This post is ultimately a snapshot of my learning process. It is not comprehensive, nor polished.  I have a place for it yet within the theoretical apparatus of my mind & this blog: it contains more questions than answers.

Anyways, I hope you enjoy some of the quotes at least; I found some of them to be extremely thought-provoking. (Unless noted otherwise, quotes are taken from this Psychlopedia review article).

Overview of CLT

Construal Level Theory (CLT) arises from noticing the interchangability of traits. Psychologists have begun to notice two distinct modes of human thought:

  • Near Mode: All of these bring each other more to mind: here, now, me, us; trend-deviating likely real local events; concrete, context-dependent, unstructured, detailed, goal-irrelevant incidental features; feasible safe acts; secondary local concerns; socially close folks with unstable traits.
  • Far Mode: Conversely, all these bring each other more to mind: there, then, them; trend-following unlikely hypothetical global events; abstract, schematic, context-freer, core, coarse, goal-related features; desirable risk-taking acts, central global symbolic concerns, confident predictions, polarized evaluations, socially distant people with stable traits.

In their review article, theorists Trope and Liberman summarize:

The fact that something happened long ago does not necessarily mean that it took place far away, that it occurred to a stranger, or that it is improbable. Nevertheless, as the research reviewed here demonstrates, there is marked commonality in the way people respond to the different distance dimensions. [Construal level theory] proposes that the commonality stems from the fact that responding to an event that is increasingly distant on any of those dimensions requires relying more on mental construal and less on direct experience of the event. … [We show] that (a) the various distances are cognitively related to each other, such that thinking of an event as distant on one dimension leads one to thinking about it as distant on other dimensions, (b) the various distances influence and are influenced by level of mental construal, and (c) the various distances are, to some extent, interchangeable in their effects on prediction, preference, and self-control.

Insight Scratchpad

Mental Health

After individuals experience a negative event, such as the death of a family member, they might ruminate about this episode. That is, they might, in essence, relive this event many times, as if they were experiencing the anguish and distress again. These ruminations tend to be ineffective, compromising well-being (e.g., Smith & Alloy, 2009).

In contrast, after these events, some individuals reflect more systematically and adaptively on these episodes. These reflections tend to uncover insights, ultimately facilitating recovery (e.g., Wilson & Gilbert, 2008).

When individuals distance themselves from some event, they are more inclined to reflect on this episode rather than ruminate, enhancing their capacity to recover. That is, if individuals consider this event from the perspective of someone else, as if detached from the episode themselves, reflection prevails and coping improves. In contrast, if individuals feel immersed in this event as they remember the episode, rumination prevails and coping is inhibited. Indeed a variety of experimental (e.g., Kross & Aydyk, 2008) and correlational studies (e.g., Ayduk & Kross, 2010) have substantiated this proposition.

When processing trauma, then, inducing abstract construals is desirable.

Arguably, depressed individuals tend to adopt an abstract, rather than concrete, construal. Consequently, memories of positive events are not concrete and, therefore, do not seem salient or recent. Indeed, people may feel these positive events seem distant, highlighting the difference between past enjoyment and more recent distress.

As this argument implies, memory of positive events could improve the mood of depressed individuals, provided they adopt a concrete construal. A study that was conducted by Werner-Seidler and Moulds (2012) corroborates this possibility. In this study, individuals who reported elevated levels of depression watched an upsetting film clip. Next, they were told to remember a positive event in their lives, such as an achievement. In addition, they were told to consider the causes, consequences, and meaning of this event, purportedly evoking an abstract construal, or to replay the scene in their head like a movie, purportedly evoking a concrete construal. As predicted, positive memories improved mood, but only if a concrete construal had been evoked.

In contrast, in the context of clinical depression, inducing concrete construals may be desirable.

In short, an abstract construal may diminish anxiety, but a concrete construal can diminish dejection and dysphoria



Action identification theory specifies the settings in which abstract and concrete construals–referred to as high and low levels–are most applicable (Vallacher, Wegner, & Somoza, 1989; Wegner & Vallacher, 1986). One of the key principles of this theory is the optimality hypothesis. According to this principle, when tasks are difficult, complex, or unfamiliar, lower level action identifications, or a concrete construal, are especially beneficial. When tasks are simple and familiar, higher level action identifications, or an abstract construal, are more beneficial.

To illustrate, when individuals develop a skill, such as golf, they should orient their attention to tangible details on how to perform some act, such as “I will ensure my front arm remains straight”. If individuals are experienced, however, they should orient their attention to intangible consequences or motivations, such as “I will outperform my friends”

Applying CLT to games. Perhaps I could use this while playing chess. 🙂

Similarly, as De Dreu, Giacomantonio, Shalvi, and Sligte (2009) showed, a more abstract or global perspective may enhance the capacity of individuals to withstand and to overcome obstacles during negotiations. If individuals need to negotiate about several issues, they are both more likely to be satisfied with the outcome of this negotiation if they delay the most contentious topics. To illustrate, when a manager and employee needs to negotiate about work conditions, such as vacation leave, start date, salary, and annual pay rise, they could begin with the issues that are vital to one person but not the other person. These issues can be more readily resolved, because the individuals can apply a technique called logrolling. That is, the individuals can sacrifice their position on the issues they regard as unimportant to gain on issues they regard as very important. Once these issues are resolved, trust improves, and a positive mood prevails. When individuals experience this positive mood, their thoughts focus on more abstract, intangible possibilities, which can enhance flexibility. Because flexibility has improved, they can subsequently resolve some of the more intractable issues.

Applying CLT to negotiation. This would seem to overlap the latitudes of acceptance construct from social judgment theory.

Thinking Modes

When individuals adopt an abstract construal, they experience a sense of self clarity (Wakslak & Trope, 2009). That is, they become less cognizant of contradictions and conflicts in their personality. Presumably, after an abstract construal is evoked, individuals orient their attention towards more enduring, unobservable traits (cf. Nussbaum, Trope, & Liberman, 2000). As a consequence, individuals become more aware of their own core, enduring qualities–shifting attention away from their peripheral, and sometimes conflicting, characteristics.

This matches my experience.

Attentional tuning theory (Friedman & Forster, 2008), which is underpinning by construal level theory, was formulated to explain the finding that an abstract construal enhances creativity thinking and a concrete construal enhances analytic thinking (e.g, Friedman & Forster, 2005; Ward, 1995).

Makes me wonder whether metaphor (engine of creative thinking) is powered by System1 processes.



Over time, therefore, people tend to behave politely when they feel a sense of distance. According to construal level theory, this distance coincides with an abstract construal. Therefore, politeness and an abstract construal should be associated with each other.

I tend to be very polite…

An abstract construal can also amplify the illusion of explanatory depth–the tendency of individuals to overestimate the extent to which they understand a concept (Alter, Oppenheimer, & Zemla, 2010)

I often suffer from this particular emotion.

When individuals adopt an abstract construal, they tend to be more hypocritical. That is, they might judge an offence as more acceptable if they, rather than someone else, committed this act.

I am guilty of this more often than most.

Taken together, one could make the case that I, Kevin, gravitate towards “far mode” (i.e., finding distance between my concept of self & my surroundings).

Theory Integration

To evoke a concrete construal, participants are instructed to specify an exemplar of each word, such as poodle or Ford.

An interesting link between CLT and Machery’s Heterogeneity Hypothesis.

In my deserialization series (e.g., Deserialized Cognition), I gestured towards two processing modes: authority and inference. Perhaps this could be simply hooked into CLT, with Near Mode triggering social processing, and Far Mode triggering inference processing.

Most crucially of all, I need to see how CLT can be reconciled with dual process theory (DPT).  One weakness of dual-processing theory, in my view, is in its difficulties producing an explanation for the context-dependent cognitive styles of Eastern cultures, versus the context-independence cognitive styles of Western cultures. Perhaps difficulties such as these could be dissolved by knitting the two theories together.

But how to begin stitching? If you’ll recall, dual-process theory is also grounded in, motivated by, dissociations:

CLT- Dual-Process Theory Dissociations

Notice the partial overlap: both CLT and DPT claim ownership of the “contextualized vs. abstract” dimension. But despite this partial overlap, when writing these theories back into mental architecture diagrams, the dissociations are produced by radically different things. System2 is – arguably – the product of a serialized “virtual machine” sitting on top of our inborn evolutionary-old modules. But Near Mode and Far Mode, they seem to be the product of an identity difference vector: how far a current thing is from one’s identity. (In fact, CLT might ultimately prove a staging grounds for investigations into the nature of personality). But this all makes me wonder how identity integrates into our mental architecture…

The entire process of integrating CLT and DPT is a formidable challenge… I’m unclear the extent to which the social psychological literature has already pursued this path. I also wonder whether any principles can be extracted by such integration attempts. Both CLT and DPT are – at their core – behavioral property bundlers – finding commonalities & interchangeabilities within human behaviors and descriptions. In general, do property-bundling theories produce sufficient theoretical constraint? And how does one, in principle, move from property-bundling to abducing causal mechanisms?


As a parting gift, a fun summary from Overcoming Bias:

CLT- Dissociations


Stanovitch: The Robot’s Rebellion: Dysrationalia

Consider Jack.  As a child, Jack did well on an aptitude test and early in his schooling got placed in a class for the gifted.  he did well on the SAT test and was accepted at Princeton.  He did well on the LSAT test and went to Harvard Law school.  He did well in his first and second year courses there and won a position on the Law Review.  He passed the New York Bar Exam with flying colors.  He is now an influential attorney, head of a legal division of Merrill-Lynch on Wall Street.  He has power and influence in the corporate world and in his community.  Only one thing is awry in this story of success: Jack thinks the Holocaust never happened and he hates Jewish people.

Jack thinks that a Jewish conspiracy controls television and other media.  Because of this, he forbids his children to watch “Jewish shows” on TV.  Jack has other habits that are somewhat “weird.”  He doesn’t patronize businesses owned by Jewish people.  There are dozens of business establishments in his community, but Jack always remembers which ones are owned by Jewish people (his long-term storage and retrieval mechanisms are quite good).  When determining the end-of-year bonuses to give his staff, Jack shaves off a little from the Jewish members of the firm.  He never does it in a way that might be easily detectable, though (his quantitative skills are considerable).  In fact, Jack wishes he had no Jewish staff members at all and attempts not to hire them when they apply for positions.  He is very good at arguing (his verbal skills are impressive) against a candidate in a way that makes it seem like he has a principled objection to the candidates qualifications (his powers of rationalization are immense).  Thus, he manages to prevent the firm from hiring any new Jewish members without, at the same time, impeaching his own judgment.  jack withholds charitable contributions from all organizations with ‘Jewish connections” and he makes sizable contributions from his large salary to political groups dedicated to advancing ethnocentric conspiracy theories.

The point is that Jack has a severe problem with belief formation and evidence evaluation – but none of the selection mechanisms that Jack had passed through in his lifetime were designed to indicate his extreme tendencies toward belief perseveration and biased evidence assimilation. They would indeed have been sensitive – indeed, would have quickly raised alarm bells – if Jack’s short-term memory capacity were 5.5 instead of 7. But they were deadly silent about the fact that jack thinks Hitler wasn’t such a bad chap.

In fact, Jack has a severe cognitive problem in the area of epistemic rationality – he is severely dysrationalic in the epistemic domain. yet he has a leading role in the corporate structure that is a dominant force in American society. Does it make sense that our selection mechanisms are designed to let Jack slip through – given that he has a severe problem in epistemic regulation (and perhaps in cognitive regulation as well) – and to screen out someone with normal epistemic mechanisms but with a short-term memory capacity 0.5 items less than Jack’s?

Although Jack’s problem in belief formation may seem to be “domain specific”, it is clear from this brief description that such unjustified beliefs can affect action in many areas of modern life. In a complex society, irrational thinking about economics, or about the nature of individual differences among people of different races or genders can – when it occurs in people of social influence – have deleterious influences that are extremely widespread. Besides, some domains are more important than others. When the domains involved become too large and/or important that it seems ill-advised to assuage concern about irrational thinking by arguing that it is domain specific. To say “Oh well, it only affects his/her thinking about other races and cultures” seems somewhat Panglossian in the context of modern technological and multicultural societies. Domain specificity is only a mitigating factor in the case of irrational thought when it can be demonstrated that the domain is truly narrow and that our technological society does not magnify the mistake by propagating it through powerful information and economic networks.

Finally, it is equally possible that Jack’s thinking problems are really not so domain specific. It is possible that careful testing would have revealed that Jack is sub-par in a variety of tasks of human judgment: He might well have displayed greater than average hindsight bias, extreme overconfidence in his probability assessments, belief perseverance, and confirmation bias. Of course, none of this would have been known to the law school admissions committee considering Jack’s application. They, as had many others in Jack’s life, conferred further social advantages on him by their decisions, and they did so without knowing that he was dysrationalic.

Obviously, I have concocted this example in order to sensitize the read to the social implications of mismatches between cognitive capacities and rationality. However, as a dysrationalic, Jack is unusual only in that society bears most of the cost of the disability. Mos dysrationalics probably bring most of the harm onto themselves. In contrast, Jack is damaging society in myriad ways, despite the face that his cognitive capacities may be allowing him to “efficiently” run a legal department in a major corporation. Ironically, then, Jack is damaging the very society that conferred numerous social advantages on him because of his intelligence. The maintenance worker who cleans Jack’s office probably has cognitive capacities inferior to Jack’s and has been penalized (or denied rewards) accordingly. However the fact that the maintenance worker does not share Jack’s irrational cognition has conferred no advantage on the maintenance worker – just as the presence of dysrationalia has conferred no disadvantage on Jack. Perhaps if we assessed rationality as explicitly throughout educational life as we do cognitive capacity, it would.
(Stanovitch, Robot’s Rebellion, page 167-169)

Hume: Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion Quotes

On Academic Consensus And Faith:
The vulgar, indeed, we may remark, who are unacquainted with science and profound inquiry, observing the endless disputes of the learned, have commonly a thorough contempt for philosophy; and rivet themselves the faster, by that means, in the great points of theology which have been taught them.  
(Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Part 1, page 4).

On The Universality Of Philosophy:
He considers, besides, that everyone, even in common life, is constrained to have more or less of this philosophy; that from our earliest infancy we make continual advances in forming more general principles of conduct and reasoning; that the larger experience we acquire, and the stronger reason we are endued with, we always render our principles the more general and comprehensive; and that what we call philosophy is nothing but a more regular and methodical operation of the same kind.  To philosophize on such subjects is nothing essentially different from reasoning on common life, and we may only expect greater stability, if not greater truth, from our philosophy on account of its exacter and more scrupulous method of proceedings.  
(Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Part I, page 7).

On Atheists:
Philo: Don’t you remember, said Philo, the excellent saying of Lord Bacon on this head?
Cleanthes: That a little philosophy, replied Cleanthes, makes a man an atheist; a great deal converts him to religion.  
Philo: That is a very judicious remark, too, said Philo.  But what I have in my eye is another passage, where, having mentioned David’s fool, who said in his heart there is no God, this great philosopher observes that the atheists nowadays have a double share of folly.  For they are not contented to say in their hearts that there is no God, but they also utter that impiety with their lips, and are thereby guilty of multiplied indiscretion and imprudence.  Such people, though they were ever so much in earnest, cannot, methinks, be very formidable. 
(Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Part I, page 11).

On Underdetermination And Its Relation To Experience:
Again, after he opens his eyes and contemplates the world as it really is, it would be impossible for him at first to assign the cause of any one event, much less of the whole of things…. He might set his fancy a rambling, and she might bring him an infinite variety of reports and representations.  These would all be possible; but, being equally possible, he would never of himself give a satisfactory account for his preferring one of them to the rest.  Experience alone can point out to him the true cause of any phenomenon.  
(Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Part II, page 17).

On The Poor Theology Of The God Of The Design Argument:
I was from the beginning scandalized, I must own, with this resemblance which is asserted between the Deity and human creatures, and must conceive it to imply such a degradation of the Supreme Being as no sound theist could. 
(Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Part II, page 18).
[Note: This argument overlaps Ken Miller’s chapter on the “God Mechanic” in his Finding Darwin’s God.]

On Infinite Explanatory Regress:
How, therefore, shall we satisfy ourselves concerning the cause of that Being whom you suppose the Author of Nature?  Have we not reason to trace that ideal world into another ideal world or new intelligent principle?  But if we stop and go no farther, why go so far? Why not stop at the material world?  How can we satisfy ourselves without going on ad infinitum?  And, after all, what satisfaction is there in that infinite progression?  Let us remember the story of “turtles all the way down”.  It was never more applicable than to the present subject.  If the material world rests upon a similar ideal world, this ideal world must rest upon some other, and so on without end.  It is better, therefore, never to look beyond the present material world.  By supposing it to contain the principle of its order within itself, we really assert it to be God; and the sooner we arrive at that Divine Being, so much the better.  When you go one step beyond the mundane system, you only excite an inquisitive humor which it is impossible ever to satisfy. 
(Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Part IV, Page 31).

On The Advantage Of Skepticism:
All religious systems, it is confessed, are subject to great and insuperable difficulties.  Each disputant triumphs in his turn, while he carries on an offensive war, and exposes the absurdities, barbarities, and pernicious tenets of his antagonist.  But all of them, on the whole, prepare a complete triumph for the skeptic, who tells them that no system ought ever to be embraced with regard to such subjects, for this plain reason: that no absurdity ought ever to be assented to with regard to any subject.  A total suspense of judgment is here our only reasonable resource.  And if every attack and no defense among theologians is successful, as is commonly observed, how complete must be his victory who remains always, with all mankind, on the offensive, and has himself no fixed station or abiding city which he is ever, on any occasion, obliged to defend?
(Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Part VIII, Page 53).

On Theism And The Flaws Of Nature:
[Were I to] show you a house where there was not one apartment agreeable; where the windows, doors, fires, passages, stairs, and the whole economy of the building were the source of noise, confusion, fatigue, darkness, and the extremes of heat and cold, you would certainly blame the contrivance, without any further examination. The architect would in vain display his subtlety, and prove to you that, if this door or that window were altered, greater ills would ensue.  What he says may strictly be true: the alteration of one particular, while the other parts of the building remain, may only augment the inconveniences.   But still you would assert in general that, if the architect had had skill and good intentions, he might have formed such a plan of the whole, and might have adjusted the parts in such a manner as would have remedied all of most of these inconveniences.  His ignorance, or even your own ignorance of such a plan, will never convince you of the impossibility of it.  If you find any inconveniences and deformities in the building, you will always, without entering into any detail, condemn the architect.  
In short, I repeat the question: is the world, considered in general and as it appears to us in this life, difference from what a man or such a limited being would, beforehand, expect from a very powerful, wise, and benevolent Deity?  It must be strange prejudice to assert the contrary.  And from thence I conclude that, however consistent the world may be, allowing certain suppositions and conjectures with the idea of such a Deity, it can never afford us an inference concerning his existence. 
(Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Part XI, Page 68-69).

On The Appeal Of Indifference Arguments:
There may four hypotheses be framed concerning the first cause of the universe: that they are endowed with perfect goodness; that they have perfect madness; that they are opposite and have both goodness and malice; that they have neither goodness nor malice.  Mixed phenomena can never prove the two former unmixed principles; and the uniformity and steadiness of general laws seem to oppose the third.  The fourth, therefore, seems by far the most probable.
(Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Part XI, Page 75).

On Theism’s Relationship With Fear:
It is true, both fear and hope enter into religion because both these passions, at different times, agitate the human mind, and each of them forms a species of divinity suitable to itself.  But when a man is in a cheerful disposition, he is fit for business, or company, or entertainment of any kind; then he naturally applies himself and thinks not of religion.  When melancholy and dejected, he has nothing to do but brood upon the terrors of the invisible world, and to plunge himself still deeper in affliction.  It may indeed happen that, after he has, in this manner, engraved the religious opinions deep into his thought and imagination, there may arrive a change of health or circumstances which may restore his good humor and, raising cheerful prospects of futurity, make him run into the other extreme of joy and triumph.  But still it must be acknowledged that, as terror is the primary principle of religion, it is the passion that always predominates in it, and admits but of short intervals of pleasure.
(Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Part XII, Page 87).

Darwin: Origin Of Species Quotes

On Lack of Intermediate Forms:
But during the process of modification, represented in the diagram, another of our principles, namely that of extinction, will have played an important part.  As in each fully stocked country natural selection necessarily acts by the selected form having some advantage in the struggle for life over other forms, there will be a constant tendency in the improved descendants of any one species to supplant and exterminate in each stage of descent their predecessors and their original parent.  For it should be remembered that the competition will generally be most severe between those forms which are most nearly related to each other in habits, constitution, and structure.  Hence all the intermediate forms between the earlier and later stages, as well as the original parent-species itself, will generally tend to become extinct.  
(On The Origin Of Species, pg 103)

On The Arbitrary Ontological Commitments Of Species-Level Creation: 
He who believes in the creation of each species, will have to say that this shell, for instance, was created with bright colors for a warm sea; but that this other shell became bright-colored by variation when it ranged into warmer, shallower waters.  
(On The Origin Of Species, pg 113)

On The Failure Of Explanation Of Species-Level Creation:
It is difficult to imagine conditions of life more similar than deep limestone caverns under a nearly similar climate; so that on the common view of the blind animals having been separately created for the American and European cavers, close similarity in their organization and affinities might have been expected; but, as Schiodte and others have remarked, this is not the case, and the cave-insects of the two continents are not more closely allied than might have been anticipated from the general resemblance of the other inhabitants of North America and Europe. 
(On The Origin Of Species, pg 117)

When we see any part or organ developed in a remarkable degree or manner in any species, the fair presumption is that it is of high importance to that species; nevertheless the part in this case is eminently liable to variation.  Why should this be so?  On the view that each species has been independently created, I can see no explanation.  But on the view that groups of species have descended from other species, and have been modified through natural selection, I think we can obtain some light…. When a part has been developed in an extraordinary manner in any one species, compared with the other species of the same genus, we may conclude that this part has undergone an extraordinary amount of modification….  An extraordinary amount of modification implies an unusually large and long-continued amount of variability, which has been continually been accumulated by natural selection for the benefit of the species.  But as the variability of the extraordinarily-developed part or organ has been so great and long-continued within a period not excessively remote, we might, as a general rule, expect still to find more variability in such parts than in other parts of the organization.  
(On The Origin Of Species, pg 128,129)

On The Imperfections Of Nature:
As Professor Owen remarked, there is no greater anomaly in nature than a bird that cannot fly; yet there are several in this state. 
(On The Origin Of Species, pg 114)

On The Rarity Of Specie Persistence:
…species very rarely endure for more than one geological period.  
(On The Origin Of Species, pg 129)

Evans-Pritchard: Witchcraft, Oracles & Magic Among The Azande Quotes

Part Of: Witchcraft, Oracles & Magic Among The Azande sequence
See AlsoSummary of the Azande book

On Mysticism And Its Insulation From Falsification Through Attention:
Azande act very much as we would in like circumstances and they make the same kind of observations as we would make.  But Azande are dominated by an overwhelming faith which prevents them from making experiments, from generalizing contradictions between tests, between verdicts of different oracles, and between all the oracles and experience.  To understand why it is that Azande do not draw from their observations the conclusions we would draw from the same evidence, we must realize that their attention is fixed on the mystical properties of the poison oracle and that its natural properties are of so little interest to them that they simply do not bother to consider them.  If a Zande’s mind were not fixed on the mystical qualities of poison and entirely absorbed by them he would perceive the significance of the knowledge he already possesses.  But in real life these bits of knowledge do not form part of an indivisible concept.
(Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic, Chapter 9, page 149).

It is evident that the oracle system would be pointless if the possibility of [poison being natural], as an educate European would regard it, were not excluded.  When I used at one time to question Zande faith in their poison oracle I was met sometimes by point-blank assertions, sometimes by one of the evasive secondary elaborations of belief that provide for any particular situation provoking skepticism, sometimes by polite pity, but always by an entanglement of linguistic obstacles, for one cannot well express in its language objections not formulated by a culture. 
(Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic, Chapter 9, page 150)

[Azande] are not surprised at contradictions [of the poison oracle]; they expect them.  Paradox though it be, the errors as well as valid judgments of the oracle prove to them its infallibility.  The fact that the oracle is wrong when it is interfered with by some mystical power shows how accurate are its judgments when these powers are excluded.  The secondary elaborations of belief that explain the failure of the oracle attribute its failure to (1) the wrong variety of poison having been gathered, (2) breach of a taboo, (3) witchcraft, (4) anger of the owners of the forest where the creeper grows, (5) age of the poison, (6) anger of the ghosts, (7) sorcery, (8) use.  
(Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic, Chapter 9, page 155).

Zande behavior, though mystical, is consistent, and the reasons they give for their behavior, though mystical, are intellectually coherent.  If their mystical notions allowed them to generalize their observations they would perceive, as we do, that their faith is without foundations.  They themselves provide all the proof necessary.  They say that they sometimes test new poison or old poison which they fear has been corrupted by asking it silly questions.  At full moon they administer the poison to a fowl and address it thus: ‘Poison oracle, tell the chicken about those two spears over there.  As I am about to go up to the sky, if I will spear the moon today with my spears, kill the fowl.  If I will not spear the moon today, poison oracle spare the fowl.’  If the oracle kills the fowl they know it is corrupt.  And yet Azande do not see that their oracles tell them nothing! Their blindness is not due to stupidity: they reason excellently in the idiom of their beliefs, but they cannot reason outside, or against, their beliefs because they have no other idiom in which to express their thoughts.  
(Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic, Chapter 9, page 159)

The contradiction between experience and one mystical notion is explained by reference to other mystical notions… Indeed, as a rule Azande do not ask questions to which answers are easily tested by experience, and they ask only those questions which embrace contingencies.  The answers either cannot be tested, or if proved by subsequent events to be erroneous permit an explanation of the error.  In the last resort errors can always be explained by attributing them to mystical interference. 
(Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic, Chapter 9, page 160-161).

On Mysticism And Explanation:
You ask [the Azande] how they know [the oracle] works and they reply, ‘It has a soul.’  If you were to ask them how they know it has a ‘soul’, they would reply that they know because it works.  They are explaining mystical action by naming it.
(Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic, Chapter 9, page 151).

On Mysticism And Time-Models:
It would appear from [Azande] behavior that the present and future overlap in some way so that the present partakes of the future as it were.  Hence a man’s future health and happiness depend on future conditions that are already in existence and can be exposed by the oracles and altered.  The future depends on the disposition of mystical forces that can be tackled here and now.  Moreover, when the oracles announce that a man will fall sick… his ‘condition’ is therefore already bad, his future is already part of him.
(Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic, Chapter 9, page 162)

See AlsoSummary of the Azande book

Freud: Interpretation Of Dreams Quotes

On The Id, The Ego, And The Superego:
According [with the analogy of political censorship], we would assume two psychical forces (currents, systems) to be the originators of dream-formation in the individual; one of these forms the wish uttered by the dream, while the other imposes a censorship on the dream-wish and by this censorship distorts its expression…. nothing from the first system can become conscious which has not previously been passed by the second agency, and the second agency lets nothing pass without exercising its rights and making whatever changes it thinks fit to the applicant for consciousness.  Saying this reveals a quite distinct conception of the ‘nature’ of consciousness: in our view, the entry of something into consciousness constitutes a specific psychical act, different from the process by which ideas are generated or imagined and independent of it; and we regard consciousness as a sensory organ perceiving a content given from elsewhere.  It can be shown that psychopathology simply cannot do without this basic assumption.
In this way my second agency [the superego], which rules over access to consciousness, bestows a distinction on my friend R. by an outpouring of excessive affection, because the wishful endeavors of the first system [the id], in their particular all-absorbing interest, would slander him as a numbskull.  Perhaps at this point we have a presentiment that the interpretation of dreams is capable of providing us with information about the structure of our psychical apparatus which till now we have sought in vain from philosophy…. Taking into account our assumptions about the two psychical agencies, we can now also add that distressing dreams in fact do contain something which is distressing to the second agency but at the same time fulfills a wish of the first agency.
(On The Interpretation Of Dreams, Dream-Distortion, page 113, 114).

It is the censorship between the Unconscious and the Preconscious that we must acknowledge and honor as the guardian of our mental health…. [even while we sleep] his slumber is not deep – he also closes the gateway to movement.
(On The Interpretation Of Dreams, The Psychology of the Dream-Processes, page 371).

[Questionable Inferences]:
According to this dream I was wrong: so it was her wish that I should be wrong, and the dream showed her that her wish was fulfilled.
(On The Interpretation Of Dreams, Dream-Distortion, page 119).
[Note: Convenient…]

‘The butcher’s shop was already shut strikes one as a description of the experience.  But wait: is that not a rather vulgar phrase which refers – or rather its opposite does – to an [unzipped fly] in a man’s dress?  The dreamer, by the way, did not use these words; perhaps she avoided them…
(On The Interpretation Of Dreams, The Material and Sources of Dreams, page 140-141).
[Note: This would be a stretch in most situations in my culture.]

It is in the nature of all censorship that in speaking of forbidden things one is permitted to say things that are not true sooner than the truth.
(On The Interpretation Of Dreams, The Material and Sources of Dreams, page 279).
[Note: Sure, but you failed to make the case that the former was necessary in order to prevent the latter from being expressed.]

Whatever disturbs the continuation of the work of analysis is a resistance……  That is why, when analyzing a dream, I insist that any scale indicating degrees of certainty should be abandoned entirely, and the slightest possibility that something of one sort or another might have occurred in the dream should be treated as absolutely definite.
(On The Interpretation Of Dreams, The Psychology of the Dream-Processes, page 336).
[Note: But if you reject Bayesian methods, what assurances do you have of forming true beliefs?]

The best-interpreted dreams often have a passage that has to be left in the dark…. This is the dream’s navel, and the place beneath which lies the Unknown….  Out of a denser patch in this tissue the dream-wish then arises like a mushroom from its mycelium.
(On The Interpretation Of Dreams, The Psychology of the Dream-Processes, page 341).
[Note: For Freud the root of the unconscious smells like mysticism, looks like mysticism…]

On How To Interpret Dreams:
Suppose I have a picture-puzzle, a rebus, before me: a house with a boat on its roof, then a single letter of the alphabet, then a running figure with his head conjured away, and the like.  Now I could fall into the trap of objecting that this combination and its constituent parts are nonsense.  A boat does not belong on the roof of a house and a person without a head cannot run…. Obviously the correct solution to the rebus can only be reached if I raise no such objections to the whole or to the details, but take the trouble to replace each picture by a syllable or a word which, through some association, can be represented by the picture.  The words connected in this way are no longer nonsense, but can yield the most beautiful and meaningful poetic saying.  The dream is a picture-puzzle of this kind, and our predecessors in the field of dream-interpretation made the mistake of judging the rebus as if it were a pictorial composition.  As such, it seemed to them to have no meaning or value.
(On The Interpretation Of Dreams, The Dream-Work, page 212).

On The Purpose Of Dreams:
Thus the wish to sleep must always be included among the motives for the formation of dreams, and every successful dream is a fulfillment of this wish.
(On The Interpretation Of Dreams,  The Material and Sources of Dreams , page 181).

On Dream-Contents And Dream-Thoughts (Latent vs. Manifest):
Applying our method of dream interpretation has enabled us to uncover the existence of a latent dream-content which is far more significant than the manifest dream-content.
(On The Interpretation Of Dreams,  The Material and Sources of Dreams , page 126).

On The Oedipus Complex:
A man mostly dreams of his father’s death, a woman of her mother’s.  [This rule is] required to be explained by a factor of general significance.  Put crudely, it as though a sexual preference were established very early, as though the boy saw a rival for love in his father, and the girl in her mother, and removing them could only be of benefit to the child.  
(On The Interpretation Of Dreams,  The Material and Sources of Dreams , page 197).

[In this example, the superego] creates the excessive concern for her mother as a hysterical counter-reaction and defensive phenomenon.  In this connection, it is not longer inexplicable why hysterical girls so often cling to their mothers with such extravagant tenderness… Being in love with one parent and hating the other belong to the indispensable stock of psychical impulses being formed at that time which are so important for the later neurosis.  But I do not believe that in this respect psychoneurotics are to be sharply distinguished from other children of Adam…. It is far more likely – and this is supported by occasional observations of normal children – that with these loving and hostile wishes towards their parents too, psychoneurotics are only revealing to us, by magnifying it, what goes on less clearly and less intensely in the inner life of most children.
(On The Interpretation Of Dreams,  The Material and Sources of Dreams , page 200,201).

Like Oedipus we live in ignorance of those wishes, offensive to morality and forced upon us by Nature, and once they have been revealed, there is little doubt we would all rather turn our gaze away from the scenes of our childhood.
(On The Interpretation Of Dreams,  The Material and Sources of Dreams , page 203).

On Ideas Derived From Psychoanalysis And Their Underlying Dream-Thoughts:
The new associations are, as it were, parallel connections, short-circuits made possible by the existence of other and deeper connecting paths.
(On The Interpretation Of Dreams,  The Material and Sources of Dreams , page 213).

On Clarity Of Dream-Content:
[Like the work of the artist Galton], the features [of the dream-objects painted on an over-determined item of dream-content]  have in common emerge more prominently, and those that do not match obliterate each other, and become blurred in the image.
(On The Interpretation Of Dreams,  The Material and Sources of Dreams , page 225).
[Note: Reminiscent of wave interference]

On Anxiety:
Anxiety is an impulse of the libido, proceeding from the unconscious and inhibited by the preconscious.
(On The Interpretation Of Dreams,  The Dream-Work, page 254).

On Autobiography:
My own dreams have in general fewer sensory elements than I have to reckon with in the dreams of others.
(On The Interpretation Of Dreams, The Psychology of the Dream-Processes, page 358).

On Reception To His Ideas:
I find it distressing to think that many of the premises at the basis of my psychological solution to the psychoneuroses will produce incredulity and laughter once I have published them.
(On The Interpretation Of Dreams,   The Dream-Work, page 291).

The reader will always be inclined to accuse the author of overloading every rift with ore; but anyone who has gained experience of interpretation himself will have learned better.
(On The Interpretation Of Dreams, The Psychology of the Dream-Processes, page 340).

That the dream [wish] always originates from the Unconscious, as we have admitted, can neither be proved to be universally applicable, though it cannot be disproved either.
(On The Interpretation Of Dreams, The Psychology of the Dream-Processes, page 394).

On Consciousness:
All thinking is only a roundabout way from the memory of a satisfaction, adopted as its purposive idea, to an identical charge of the same memory, which, it is intended, will be regained by way of motor experiences… Thinking, then, must move towards freeing itself more and more from the exclusive regulation of the unpleasure-principle…. 
(On The Interpretation Of Dreams, The Psychology of the Dream-Processes, page 397).

On Why We Forget Our Youth:
As a consequence of this belated entry of the secondary processes, a wide field of memory-material also remains inaccessible to preconscious charging.
(On The Interpretation Of Dreams, The Psychology of the Dream-Processes, page 398).

Descartes: Discourse On Method Quotes

On The External Control Of Our Environments:
I considered how one and the same man with the very same mind, were he brought up from infancy among the French or the Germans, would become different from what he would be had he always lived among the Chinese or the cannibals, and how, even down to the styles of our clothing, the same thing that pleased us ten years ago, and that perhaps will again please us ten years hence, now seems to us extravagant and ridiculous.  … Hence I [chose to be] constrained to try to guide myself on my own.
(Discourse On Method, Part II, page 9-10)

The Method:
[Just as law is best kept dramatically parsimonous and rigidly enforced, so these principles]:
1) The first [principle] was to never accept anything as true that I did not plainly know to be such; that is to say, carefully to avoid hasty judgment than what presented itself to my mind so clearly and so distinctly that I had no occasion to call it in doubt.
2) The second [principle], to divide each of the difficulties I would examine into as many parts as possible, and as was required, in order better to resolve them.
3) The third [principle], to conduct my thoughts in an orderly fashion, by commencing with those objects that are simplest and easiest to know, in order to ascend little by little, as by degrees, to the knowledge of the most composite things…
4) And the last [principle], everywhere to make enumerations so complete and reviews so general that I was assured of having omitted nothing.
(Discourse On Method, Part II, page 11)

On Deriving Context From Graphical Models:
I thought it would be more worthwhile for me to examine only these [mathematical concepts] in general, and to suppose them only in subject that would help me make the knowledge of them easier…. Then, having noted that, in order to know these [concepts], I would sometimes need to consider each of them individually, and sometimes only to keep them in mind, or to grasp many of them together, I thought that, in order better to consider them in particular, I ought to suppose them to be relations between lines, since I found nothing more simple, or nothing that I could represent more distinctly to my imagination and to my senses; but that, in order to keep them in mind or to grasp many of them together, I would have to explicate them by means of certain symbols, the briefest ones possible; and that by this means I would be borrowing all that is best in geometrical analysis and algebra, and correcting all the defects of the one by the other.
(Discourse On Method, Part III, page 12)

On The Distinction Between Reason And Empiricism:
Everything unimaginable [to the senses] seems to [many people] unintelligible.  Even philosophers take it as a maxim in the schools that there is nothing in the understanding that has not first been in the senses, where it is nevertheless certain that the ideas of God and the soul have never been.  And it seems to me that those who want to use their imagination to grasp these ideas are doing the very same thing as if, in order to hear sounds or to smell odors, they wanted to use their eyes.
(Discourse On Method, Part IV, page 21)

On The Certainty Of Metaphysics Over The Sciences:
Finally, if there still are men who have not been sufficiently persuaded of the existence of God and of their soul by means of the reasons I have brought forward, I very much want them to know that all the other things of which they think themselves perhaps more assured, such as having a body, that there are stars and an earth, and the like, are less certain.
(Discourse On Method, Part IV, page 21)

On Truth Originating From Divine Clarity:
It follows from [divine perfection] that our ideas or notions, being real things and coming from God, cannot, in all that is clear and distinct in them, be anything but true.  Thus, if we quite often have ideas that contain some falsity, this can only be the case with respect to things that have something confused or obscure about them, because in this respect they participate in nothing; that is, they are thus confused in us only because we are not perfect…. But if we did not know that all that is real and true in us comes from a perfect and infinite being – however clear and distinct our ideas were, we would have no reason that assured us that they had the perfection of being true.  
(Discourse On Method, Part IV, page 22)

On Philosophical Zombies:
I contented myself with supposing that God formed the body of a man exactly like one of ours, as much in the outward shape of its members as in the internal arrangement of its organs… without putting into it, at the start, any rational soul, or anything else to serve there as a vegetative or sensitive soul, but merely kindled in the man’s heart one of those fires without light….  For on examining the functions that could, as a consequence, be in this body, I found there precisely all those things that can be in us without our thinking about them, and hence, without our soul’s contributing to them….  And these are all the same features in which one can say that animals lacking reason resemble us.
(Discourse On Method, Part V, page 26)

[While this is not the case for animals], if there were any such machines that bore a resemblance to our bodies and imitated our actions as far as this is practically feasible, we would always have two very certain means of recognizing that they were not at all true men.  The first is that they could never use words or other signs, or put them together as we do in order to declare our thoughts to others.  For one can well conceive of a machine that utters words, and even that utters words appropriate to the bodily actions that will cause some change in its organs….  But it could not arrange its words differently so as to respond to the sense of all that will be said in its presence, as even the dullest man can do.  The second means is that, although they might perform many tasks very well or perhaps better than any of us, such machines would invitably fail in other tasks; by this means one would discover that they were acting not through knowledge but only through the disposition of their organs.  For while reason is universal… these organs require some particular disposition for each particular action; consequently, it is for all practical purposes impossible for there to be enough different organs in a machine to make it act in all the contingencies of life in the same way as our reason makes us act.  
(Discourse On Method, Part VI, page 32)

On The Purpose Of The Lungs:
The true function of respiration is to bring enough fresh air into the lungs to cause the blood which comes there from the right cavity of the heart, where it has been rarified and, as it were, changed into vapors, immediately to be condensed and to be converted once again into blood before returning to the left cavity; without this process the blood could not properly aid in feeding the fire that is in the heart.
(Discourse On Method, Part V, page 30)
[Note: this was, of course, ultimately proved incorrect]

On Immortality Of The Soul:
When one knows how different [soul and body] are, one understands much better the arguments which prove that our soul is of a nature entirely independent of the body, and consequently that it is not subject to die with it.  Then, since we do not see any other causes at all for its destruction, we are naturally led to judge from this that it is immortal.  
(Discourse On Method, Part VI, page 33)

On The Inferiority Of A-T Philosophy Against Science:
It is possible to arrive at knowledge that would be very useful in life and that, in place of that speculative philosophy taught in the schools , it is possible to find a practical philosophy, by means of which, knowing the force and the actions of fire, water, air, the stars, the heavens, and all the other bodies that surround us, just as distinctly as we know the various skills of our craftsmen, we might be able, in the same way, to use them for all the purposes for which they are appropriate, and thus render ourselves, as it were, masters and possessors of nature… perhaps even [rid oneself] of the frailty of old age…
(Discourse On Method, Part VI, page 35)
[Note: “philosophy taught in the schools” is likely directed at A-T scholasticism]

I am sure that that the most impassioned of those who now follow Aristotle would believe themselves fortunate, if they had as much knowledge of nature as he had, even if it were on the condition that they would never have any more.  They are like ivy, which never stretches any higher than the trees supporting it, and which often even descends again after if has reached their tops, for it seems to me that they are re-descending, that is, they are making themselves somehow less knowledgeable than if they abstained from studying; not content with knowing all that is intelligibly explained in their author, they want in addition to find the solutions there to many difficulties about which he says nothing and about which he has perhaps never thought.  Still, their manner of philosophizing is very convenient for those who have only very mediocre minds, for the obscurity of the distinctions and the principles they make use of is the reason why they can speak about all things as boldly as if they knew them, and why they can uphold everything they say against the most subtle and the most adroit, without anyone’s having the means of convincing them they are mistaken.  In this they seem to me like a blind man who, in order to fight without a disadvantage against someone who is sighted, had made his opponent go into the depths of some very dark cellar.  
(Discourse On Method, Part VI, page 40)

On His Aspirations For Inspiring Post-Mortem Audiences:
I [published] as much to have all the more occasion to examine [my judgments] well (since without doubt one always looks more carefully at what one believes must be seen by many, than at what one does only for oneself; and often the things that have seemed to me to be true when I began to conceive them have appeared false to me when I wanted to put them on paper), as in order not to lose any occasion to benefit the public, if I am able, and in order that, if my writings are worth anything, those who will have them after my death can thus use them as will be most fitting.
(Discourse On Method, Part VI, page 37)

On Reasons For Self-Censorship After Galileo:
I would have many opportunities to lose time, had I published the foundations of my physics.  For although they are nearly all so evident that it is necessary only to understand them in order to believe them, and although there has not been a single one for which I did not believe I could give demonstrations, nevertheless, because it is impossible for them to be in agreement with all the diverse opinions of other men, I foresee that I would often be distracted by the disputes they would engender.
(Discourse On Method, Part VI, page 38)

On The Disadvantages Of Social Learning:
In this way, if there were someone in the world whom one assuredly knows to be capable of finding the greatest things and the things as beneficial to the public as possible and whom, for this cause, other men were to exert themselves to help in every way to succeed in his plans, I do not see that they could do a thing for him except to make a donation toward the expenses of the experiments he would need and, for the rest, to prevent his leisure from being wasted by the importunity of anyone.
(Discourse On Method, Part VI, page 41)

On Experience Being The Groundwork Of Semantic Webs:
The reasonings [in my essay presenting a considerable number of scientific results] follow each other in such a way, just as the last are demonstrated by means of the first, which are their causes, so these first are reciprocally demonstrated by means of the last, which are their effects.  And one must not imagine that I am here committing the fallacy that logicians call a circle, for, experience rendering the majority of these effects very certain, the causes from which I deduce these effects serve not so much to prove them as to explain them; on the contrary, it is rather the case that the causes are what are proved by the effects.
(Discourse On Method, Part VI, page 43)

Descartes: Meditations On First Philosophy Quotes

On Why He Couldn’t Assert Immortality Of The Soul Immediately:
But because some people will perhaps expect to see proofs for the immortality of the soul in this [second] Meditation, I think they should put on notice here that I have attempted to write only what I have carefully demonstrated…….
(Meditations On First Philosophy, Synopsis, page 54)
[Note: Descartes has to spend a lot of time placating the crazies]

On The Relation Between Philosophy And Theology:
I have always thought that two issues – namely, God and the soul – are chief among those that ought to be demonstrated with the aid of philosophy rather than theology.
(Meditations On First Philosophy, Dedication, page 47)

On Atheism:
Granted, it is altogether true that we must believe in God’s existence because it is taught in the Holy scriptures, and, conversely, that we must believe the Holy Scriptures because they have come from God. This is because, of course, since faith is a gift from God, the very same one who gives the grace that is necessary for believing the rest can also give the grace to believe that he exists. Nonetheless, this reasoning cannot be proposed to unbelievers because they would judge it to be circular.
(Meditations On First Philosophy, Dedication, page 47)

Moreover, I know that there are many irreligious people who refuse to believe that God exists and that the human mind is distinct from the body – for no other reason than their claim that up until now no one has been able to demonstrate these two things.
(Meditations On First Philosophy, Dedication, page 48)

I have seen two rather lengthy treatises [that respond to Discourse On Method], but these works, utilizing as they do arguments drawn from atheist commonplaces, focused their attack not so much on my arguments regarding these issues, as on my conclusions. Moreover, arguments of this type exercise no influence over those who understand my arguments, and the judgments of many people are so preposterous and feeble that they are more likely to be persuaded by the first opinions to come along, however false and contrary to reason they may be, than by a true and firm refutation of them which they hear subsequently. Accordingly, I have no desire to respond here to these objections, lest I first have to state what they are. I will only say in general that all the objections typically bandied about by the atheists to assail the existence of God always depend either on ascribing human emotions to God, or on arrogantly claiming for our minds such power and wisdom that we attempt to determine and grasp fully what God can and ought to do. Hence these objections will cause us no difficulty, provided we but remember that our minds are to be regarded as finite, while God is to be regarded as incomprehensible and infinite.
(Meditations On First Philosophy, Preface, page 52)

On The Certainty Of His Meditations And Their Potential For Misinterpretations:
Although the arguments I use here do, in my opinion, equal or even surpass those of geometry in certitude and obviousness, nevertheless I am fearful that many people will not be capable of adequately perceiving them, both because they are a bit lengthy, with some of them depending on still others, and also because… they demand a mind quite free from prejudices and that can easily withdraw itself from association of the senses. Certainly there are not to be found in the world more people with an aptitude for metaphysical studies than those with an aptitude for geometry.
(Meditations On First Philosophy, Dedication, page 49)

On Teleology:
…the entire class of causes which people customarily derive from a thing’s “end,” I judge to be utterly useless in physics. It is not without rashness that I think myself capable of inquiring into the ends of God.
(Meditations On First Philosophy, Meditation 4, page 82)

On Truth And Clarity And Certainty:
I am certain that I am a thinking thing. But do I not therefore also know what is required for me to be certain of anything? Surely in this first instance of knowledge, there is nothing but a certain clear and distinct perception of what I affirm. Yet this would hardly be enough to render me certain of the truth of a thing, if it could ever happen that something that I perceived so clearly and distinctly were false. And thus I now seem able to posit as a general rule that everything I very clearly and distinctly perceive is true.
(Meditations On First Philosophy, Meditation 3, page 70)

[The idea of God discloses to me something real… it is] an idea that is utterly clear and distinct… for whatever I clearly and distinctly perceive to be real and true and to involve some perfection is wholly contained in that idea.
(Meditations On First Philosophy, Meditation 3, page 77)

But once I perceived that there is a God, and also understood at the same time that everything else depends on him, and that he is not a deceiver, I then concluded that everything that I clearly and distinctly perceive to be true. Hence even if I no longer attend to the reasoning leading me to judge this to be true, so long as I merely recall that I did clearly and distinctly observe it, no counter-argument can be brought forward that might force me to doubt it. On the contrary, I have a true and certain knowledge of it. … For what objections can now be raised against me? That I have been made such that I am often mistaken? But I now know that I cannot be mistaken in matters I plainly understand. That I have taken many things to be true and certain which subsequently I recognized to be false? But none of these were things I clearly and distinctly perceived. But I was ignorant of this rule for determining the truth, and I believed these things perhaps for other reasons which I later discovered were less firm.
(Meditations On First Philosophy, Meditation 5, page 92)
[Note: Notice how God’s existence ties in (precedes?) this understanding of truth as clarity.]

On God’s Existence:
In fact the idea I clearly have of the human mind – insofar as it is a thinking thing, not extended in length, breadth or depth, and having nothing else from the body – is far more distinct than the idea of any corporeal thing. And when I take note of the fact that I doubt, or that I am a thing that is incomplete and dependent, there comes to mind a clear and distinct idea of a being that is independent and complete, that is, an idea of God. And from the mere fact that such an idea is in me, or that I who have this idea exist, I draw the obvious conclusion that God also exists, and that my existence depends entirely upon him at each and every moment. This conclusion is so obvious that I am confident that the human mind can know nothing more evident or more certain.
(Meditations On First Philosophy, Meditation 4, page 81)

However, as far as God is concerned, if I were not overwhelmed by prejudices and if the images of sensible things were not besieging my thought from all directions, I would certainly acknowledge nothing sooner or more easily than [God].
(Meditations On First Philosophy, Meditation 5, page 91).

For just as the objective mode of being belongs to ideas by their very nature, so the normal mode of being belongs to the causes of ideas, at least to the first and preeminent ones, by their very nature. And although one idea can perhaps issue from another, nevertheless no infinite regress is permitted here; eventually some first idea must be reached whose cause is a sort of archetype that contains formally all the reality that is in the idea merely objectively.
(Meditations On First Philosophy, Meditation 3, page 74)

On Why One Can Invent Corporeal Ideas, But Not Divine Ideas:
As to the ideas of corporeal things, there is nothing in them that is so great that it seems incapable of having originated from me… There is another kind of falsity (called “material” falsity) which is found in ideas whenever they represent a non-thing as if it were a thing… Assuredly I need not assign to these ideas an author distinct from myself. For if they were false, that is, if they were to represent non-things, I know by the light of nature that they proceed from nothing; that is, they are in me for no other reason that something is lacking in my nature. If, on the other hand, these ideas are true, then because they exhibit so little reality to me that I cannot distinguish it from a non-thing, I see no reason why they cannot get their being from me.
(Meditations On First Philosophy, Meditation 3, page 75

On “The Unicorn Defense”:
From the fact that I think of God as existing, it does not seem to follow that God exists, for my thought imposes no necessity on things. And just as one may image a winged horse, without there being a horse that has wings, in the same way perhaps I can attach existence to God, even though no God exists. But there is a sophism lurking here. From the fact that I am unable to think of a mountain without a valley, it does not follow that a mountain or a valley exists anywhere, but only that, whether they exist or not, a mountain and a valley are inseparable from one another. But from the fact that I cannot think of God except as existing, it follows that existence is inseparable from God, and that for this reason he really exists.
(Meditations On First Philosophy, Meditation 5, page 89)

On The Unreliability Of The Senses:
Many experiences gradually weakened any faith that I had in the senses… [examples include phantom limb pain and flaws in visual recognition]… To these causes for doubt I recently added two quite general ones. The first was that everything I ever thought I sensed while awake I could believe I also sometimes sensed while asleep, and since I do not believe that what I seem to sense in my dreams comes to me from things external to me, I saw no reason why I should hold this belief about those things I seem to be sensing while awake. The second was that, since I was ignorant of the author of my origin (or at least pretended to be ignorant of it), I saw nothing to prevent my having been so constituted by nature that I should be mistaken even about what seemed to me most true.
(Meditations On First Philosophy, Meditation 6, page 95)

Thus what I thought I had seen with my eyes, I actually grasped solely with the faculty of judgment, which is in my mind.
(Meditations On First Philosophy, Meditation 2, page 68)

On Why “Everything That Begins To Exist Has A Cause” Includes The Non-Corporeal:
Now it is indeed evident by the light of nature that there must be at least as much [reality] in the efficient and total cause as there is in the effect of that same cause. For whence, I ask, could an effect get its reality, if not from a cause? And how could the cause give that reality to the effect, unless it also possessed that reality? Hence it follows that something cannot come into being out of nothing, and also that what is more perfect (that is, what contains in itself more reality) cannot come into being from what is less perfect. But this is manifestly true not merely for those effects whose reality is actual or formal, but also for ideas in which only objective reality is considered… As imperfect a mode of being as this is by which a thing exists in the intellect objectively through an idea, nevertheless it is plainly not nothing, hence it cannot get its being from nothing.
(Meditations On First Philosophy, Meditation 3, page 73-74)

On Thought And Forms:
Rather, the very nature of an idea is such that of itself it needs no formal reality other than what it borrows from my thought, of which it is a mode.
(Meditations On First Philosophy, Meditation 3, page 76)

I am a substance.
(Meditations On First Philosophy, Meditation 3, page 76)

On Self-Knowledge Never Being Wrong:
Now as far as ideas are concerned, if they are considered alone and in their own right, without being referred to something else, they cannot, properly speaking, be false. For whether it is a she-goat or a chimera that I am imagining, it is no less true that I imagine the one than the other. Moreover, we need not fear that there is falsity in the will itself or in the affects, for although I can choose evil things or even things that are utterly non-existent, I cannot conclude that it is untrue that I do choose these things. Thus there remain only judgments in which I must take care not to be mistaken.
(Meditations On First Philosophy, Meditation 3, page 71)
[Note: Above passage seems to hint at an is-ought distinction.]

Sapolsky: Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers Quotes

On Heart Disease Markers:
CRP [C-reactive protein] is turning out to be a much better predictor of cardiovascular disease risk than cholesterol, even years in advance of disease onset.  As a result, CRP has suddenly become quite trendy in medicine, and is fast becoming a standard endpoint to measure in general blood work on patients. 
(Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Chapter 3, Page 44)

On The First Gulf War:
During the 1991 Persian Gulf War fewer deaths in Israel were due to SCUD missile damage than to sudden cardiac death among frightened elderly people.  
(Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Chapter 3, Page 50)

On The Origins Of Peter Pan:
A son, age thirteen, the beloved favorite of the mother, is killed in an accident.  The mother, despairing and bereaved, takes to her bed in grief for years afterward, utterly ignoring her other, six-year-old son.  Horrible scenes ensue.  For example, the boy, on one occasion, enters her darkened room; the mother, in her delusional state, briefly believe it is the dead son – “David, is that you?  Could that be you?” – before realizing: “Oh, it is only you.”  Growing up, being “only you”.  On the rare instances when the mother interacts with the younger son, she repeatedly expresses the same obsessive thought: the only solace she feels is that David died when he was still perfect, still a boy, never to be ruined by growing up and growing away from his mother.
The younger boy, ignored (the stern, distant father seemed to have been irrelevant to the family dynamics), seizes upon this idea; by remaining a boy forever, by not growing up, he will at least have some chance of pleasing his mother, winner her love.  Although there is no evidence of disease or malnutrition in his well-to-do family, he ceases growing. As an adult, he is just barely five feet in height, and his marriage is unconsummated.  
And then the chapter informs us that the boy became the author of the much-beloved children’s class – Peter Pan.  J.M. Barrie’s writings are filled with children who didn’t grow up, who were fortunate enough to die in childhood, who came back as ghosts to visit their mothers.
(Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Chapter 6, Page 106)

On The Strangeness Of Sleep:
All things considered, sleeping is pretty creepy.  For a third of your life, you’re just not there, floating in this suspended state, everything slowing down.  Except, at points, your brain is more active than when you’re awake, making your eyelids all twitchy, and it’s consolidating memories from the day and solving problems for you.  Except when it’s dreaming, when it’s making no sense.  And then you sometimes walk or talk in your sleep.  Or drool.  And then there’s those mysterious penile or clitoral erections that occur intermittently during the night.  (And this isn’t even going into the subject of species that sleep with only half of their brain at a time, in order to keep one eye and half the brain open to look out for predators.   Mallards, for example, that are stuck on the edge of their group at night keep their outward facing eye, and the half of the brain that responds to it, preferentially awake.  As more oddities, dolphins can swim while sleeping and some birds can fly.)
(Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Chapter 11, Page 227)

On Teddy Roosevelt The Scientist:
A biography of Teddy Roosevelt, however, recently helped me to appreciate that the world lost one of its great potential zoologists when he lapsed into politics.  At age eighteen, he had already published professionally in ornithology; when he was half that age, he reacted to the news that his mother had thrown out his collection of field mice, stored in the family icebox, by moping around the house, proclaiming, “The loss to science!  The loss to science!”
(Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Chapter 13, Page 252)

On Personal Autonomy And Depression:
Humans can be provoked into at least transient cases of learned helplessness, and with surprising ease.  Naturally, there is tremendous individual variation in how readily this happens – some of us are  more vulnerable than others….  In the experiment involving inescapable noise, Hiroto had given the students a personality inventory beforehand.  Based on that, he was able to identify the students who came into the experiment with a strongly “internalized locus of control” – a belief that they were the masters of their own destiny and had a great deal of control in their lives – and, in contrast, the markedly “externalized” volunteers, who tended to attribute outcomes to chance and luck.  In the aftermath of an uncontrolled stressor, the externalized students were far more vulnerable to learned helplessness.  Transferring that to the real world, with the same external stressors, the more that someone has an internal locus of control, the less the likelihood of a depression.  
(Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Chapter 14, Page 303)

Having an illusory sense of control in a bad setting can be so pathogenic that one version of it gets a special name in the health psychology literature… As described by Sherman James of Duke University, it is called John Henryism.  The name refers to the American folk hero who, hammering a six-foot-long steel drill, tried to outrace a steam drill tunneling through a mountain.  John Henry beat the machine, only to fall dead from the superhuman effort.  As James defines it, John Henryism involves the belief that any and all demands can be vanquished, so long as you work hard enough.  On questionnaires, John Henry individuals strongly agree with statements such as “When things don’t go the way I want them, it just makes me work even harder,” or “Once I make up my mind to do something, I stay with it until the job is completely done.”  This is the epitome of individuals with an internal locus of control – they believe that, with enough effort and determination, they can regulate all outcomes.  
(Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Chapter 18, Page 404-5)

On Race And Anxiety:
Some recent studies that I find truly unsettling show that if you flash a picture of someone from a different race, the amygdala tends to light up.  Endless studies need to be done looking at what sort of face is flashed and what sort of person is observing it.  But in the meantime, just think about the implications of that finding.
(Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Chapter 15, Page 323)

On Dopamine Motivating Behavior:
The next key thing to learn is that the dopamine and its associated sense of pleasurable anticipation fuels the work needed to get that reward.  Peter Phillips from the University of North Carolina has used some immensely fancy techniques to measure millisecond bursts of dopamine in rats and has showed with the best time resolution to date that the burst comes just before the behavior.  Then, in the clincher, he artificially stimulated the dopamine release and, suddenly, the rat would start lever pressing.  The dopamine does indeed fuel the behavior.  
(Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Chapter 16, Page 339)

On Drug Addiction Rerouting Pleasure Pathways:
Brain-imaging studies of drug users at that stage [of needing the drug on account of low resting dopamine levels] show that viewing a film of actors pretending to use drugs activates dopamine pathways in the brain more than does watching porn films.  
(Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Chapter 16, Page 345)

On Oscar Awards & Life Expectancy:
The issue of respect [and its relationship with life expectancy] may help explain the highly publicized finding that winning the Oscar at any point in your life extends your life expectancy about four years, relative to doctors who were nominated but didn’t win.
(Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Chapter 18, Page 390)

On Religion & Health:
Finally and most important in this area of science, you can’t randomly assign people to different study groups (“You folks become atheists, and you guys start deeply believing in God, and we’ll meet back here in ten years to check everyone’s blood pressure”). 
(Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Chapter 18, Page 408)

Consider two leading thinkers in this field, Richard Sloan and Carl Thoresen… 
[they] agree that there’s not a shred of evidence that praying for someone improves her health…. 
[they] agree that when you do see a legitimate link between religiosity and good health, you don’t know which came first.  Being religious may make you healthy, and being healthy may make you religious….
[they] also agree that when you do see a link, you still don’t know if it has anything to do with religiosity [there are many variable that] need to be controlled for…
[they] are also mostly in agreement that religiosity does predict good health to some extent in a few areas of medicine…
[they are both] made very nervous by the idea that findings in this field will lead to physicians advising their patients to become religious…
[they] both note that religiosity can make health, mental or otherwise, a lot worse.  
(Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Chapter 18, Page 409-11)

On Dysrationalia:
Standing fast on this issue requires a heartbreaking rejection of a tenet of liberal education that so many of us treasure.  It is the notion that being exposed to the Great Books and the Great Thoughts must lead to Great Morals.
(The Trouble With Testosterone, Beelzebub’s SAT Scores, Page 110)

Baddeley: Working Memory Quotes

Representational Neglect
Of particular relevance to [the case for regarding the sketchpad as a workspace rather than a perceptual gateway] is the phenomenon of representational neglect. Bisiach and Luzzatti (1978) report the case of two patients who were asked to describe from memory the cathedral square in Milan, their native city. In both cases they gave a good description, except that the left side of the square was hardly mentioned. They were then told to imagine walking around the square, turning round, and again giving a description. This time the previously neglected part of the square was on their right, and was now described in detail; the side that was previously well-described was now ignored. Baddeley and Lieberman (1980) suggested that this might represent the impairment of a system for representing information within the visuospatial sketchpad.
(Baddeley, Working Memory, pp 93)

3D Image Rotation
Much of the research on imagery was initially stimulated by the classic demonstration by Shepard and Metzler (1971) who required subjects to judge whether two representations of three-dimensional object were identical or whether one was the mirror image of another. The two were presented in different relative orientations. Response time proved to be a linear function of the difference in orientation between the two, just as if the subjects were mentally rotating one of the objects until it lined up with the other, and then making the judgment…

[Description of Kosslyn’s (1978) computational model of the brain literally rotating a data structure.]

Intons-Peterson (1996) showed that the speed of ‘visual scanning’ varied depending on semantically relevant but non-visual factors such as whether the whether the the subject were imagining herself carrying a weight or not…

Equally problematic for Kosslyn’s interpretation was a study by Hinton and Parsons (1988) who asked their subjects to imagine a wire cube sitting on a shelf in front of them. They were then asked to take hold of the nearest lower right-hand corner, and the furthest [upper] left-hand corner, and then orient the cube such that their left hand was immediately above their right. The task then was to describe the location of the remaining corners. Almost everyone reports that they lay upon a horizontal line, like a cubic equator. In fact, they form a crown shape. Hinton and Parsons suggest that rather than actually manipulating the representation as Shepard or Kosslyn might suggest, subjects attempt to simulate it. When a problem is complex, they simply fail.
(Baddeley, Working Memory, pp 94-95)