The Plural Psyche: Personality, Morality, and the Father

The Plural Psyche: Personality, Morality, and the Father

The Plural Psyche: Personality, Morality, and the Father

The Plural Psyche: Personality, Morality, and the Father

Excerpt

I hope I’ve published this book at the right moment. At the moment when the ideas and intuitions are sufficiently coherent to warrant expression but not so integrated and systematized that ossification results. Like any psychological work, the book teeters between developing its own language and the need to use a common language. However, even a common language is a changing language—it must be, to remain alive—and I have tried to explain why certain new words get used and to keep their number down.

This is both an open and a closed book. Open, in that it is concerned with recognizable themes and largely depends on a dialogue with the reader. Closed, in that it is self-referential and self-determining, creating its own world and inviting the reader in. Sometimes the mode of expression is intellectual. But I hope it is never abstract. There is also a good deal of argumentativeness, and this engagement with others, themselves involved in similar enterprises, is central.

When I was at school, I learnt the following maxim from one of my teachers (I think he taught economic history): what now looks to us like the intellectual or ideological discoveries of the past are better understood as descriptions of the most progressive contemporary practices. For example, Machiavelli did not write a handbook for princes, containing smart new ideas. Rather, he described what the most enterprising princes were already doing. Adam Smith’s importance is not that he promoted capitalism, but that he described (and hence understood) what the new capitalists were doing. You could say that such writers were bringing something to consciousness.

I expect this is so with much of this book. What looks like (and, from the emotional perspective of the writer, really is) discovery, is description. Discovery is a fantasy. But so, too, is description.

Thinking about the fantasy of description, I’d like to say something about the standing of the case material in the book. I learnt from my first supervisor, Fred Plaut, to be wary of case illustrations that seem to prove or at least strengthen a writer’s viewpoint. Be most wary when what is offered is offered merely as an ‘example’, just to make sure the point has got across. Without going into the epistemological issues, such examples can be grossly . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.