Studies in Intellectual Breakthrough: Freud, Simmel, Buber

Studies in Intellectual Breakthrough: Freud, Simmel, Buber

Studies in Intellectual Breakthrough: Freud, Simmel, Buber

Studies in Intellectual Breakthrough: Freud, Simmel, Buber

Excerpt

We are accustomed to conceiving of intellectual breakthrough solely in terms of some completed achievement-a new law, a new style, a new paradigm. We can recall clearly, neatly, concisely, Newton's laws of motion, Darwin's theory of evolution, Freud's theories of neurosis and infantile sexuality. We seldom, however, conceive of intellectual breakthrough as a social phenomenon, as a discourse through which the "product" materialized within the social world.

Yet what are we left with when we can recall the articulated product but not its formative process, when we can no longer see the relation between the result of an inquiry and its coming into being? Hegel claims that we are left with a corpse. "The result," he says, "[is not] the actual whole, but only the result together with its becoming." To recall a product of intellectual breakthrough while forgetting the analytic conditions of its utterance is to have the answer but no memory of the question. To report a discourse by segregating it from its process is to constrict its nature and diminish its potential. If intellectual achievements interest us at all, we should wish to account for the answers they give in terms of their aims, commitments, struggles, necessity-in short, their "forms of life."

How, then, can we conceive of this relation between the completed achievement and its processes of coming into being? Is the discursive event so independent of its product that we must bring the two to-

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