The Analytic Freud: Philosophy and Psychoanalysis

The Analytic Freud: Philosophy and Psychoanalysis

The Analytic Freud: Philosophy and Psychoanalysis

The Analytic Freud: Philosophy and Psychoanalysis


This is a timely and stimulating collection of essays on the importance of Freudian thought for analytic philosophy, investigating its impact on mind, ethics, sexuality, religion and epistemology.Marking a clear departure from the long-standing debate over whether Freudian thought is scientific or not, The Analytic Freud expands the framework of philosophical inquiry, demonstrating how fertile and mutually enriching the relationship between philosophy and psychoanalysis can be.The essays are divided into four clear sections, addressing the implications of Freud for philosophy of mind, ethics, sexuality and civilisation. The authors discuss the problems psychoanalysis poses for contemporary philosophy as well as what philosophy can learn from Freud's legacy and undeniable influence. For instance, The Analytic Freud discusses the problems presented by pyschoanalytic theories of the mind for the philosophy of language; the issues which current theories of mind and meaning raise for psychoanalytic accounts of emotion, metaphor, the will and self-deception; the question whether psychoanalytic theory is essential in understanding sexuality, love, humour and the tensions which arise out of personal relationships. The Analytic Freud is a critical and thorough examination of Freudian and post-Freudian theory, adding a welcome and significant dimension to the debate between psychoanalysis and contemporary philosophy.


In every age, there must be truths people can’t fight—whether or not they want to, whether or not they will go on being truths in the future. We live in the truth of what Freud discovered. Whether or not we like it. However we’ve modified it. We aren’t really free to suppose—to imagine—he could possibly have been wrong about human nature. In particulars, surely—but not in the large plan.

A.S. Byatt (1990:254)

In An Autobiographical Study Freud (1925d: 59) said that his avoidance of philosophy was ‘greatly facilitated by constitutional incapacity’. Yet despite his disclaimer Freud was as much a philosopher as he was a psychologist. Indeed according to many (experimental) psychologists he was, if anything (worthwhile), far more the former than the latter. Of course this is usually meant deprecatingly. Nevertheless, even if Freud was not first and foremost a philosopher, it would be interesting, maybe even momentous, if it turned out that the philosophical implications of psychoanalytic theory were perhaps more significant than the merely psychological—albeit crucial to the latter as well. The essays in this volume take that possibility seriously.

Far from intimating closure or regarding his work as final, Freud frequently reiterates that psychoanalysis has a bright future regarding ‘further discoveries’ about the individual, civilization, and their connections. Surprisingly, however, there has been relatively little written by analytic philosophers, on the philosophical implications of Freudian and post-Freudian theory. Only within the past twenty years or so have more than handful of analytic philosophers turned their attention to Freud—and even then not in great numbers. Instead of focusing on a critique of psychoanalytic theory with an eye towards undermining it in some major way, the essays in this volume seek to critically and speculatively elaborate upon it. This volume shifts the direction of debate away from the recent scholarly and public criticism that has been levelled at Freud and anything psychoanalytic. It moves

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