The Psychoanalytic Mind: From Freud to Philosophy

The Psychoanalytic Mind: From Freud to Philosophy

The Psychoanalytic Mind: From Freud to Philosophy

The Psychoanalytic Mind: From Freud to Philosophy

Synopsis

Cavell elaborates the view, traceable from Wittgenstein to Davidson, that there is no thought, and thus no meaning, without language, and shows how this concurs with psychoanalytic theory and practice.

Excerpt

Freud found the source of human neurosis in our long dependency on others and our capacity for symbolization. The conjunction, he saw, makes for deep longings, conflicts, and disappointments, breeding at the same time an imagination that can embroider reality for our short-term ease but our enduring pain. Psychoanalysis is essentially, and necessarily, a theory about creatures who have minds. But Freud's vision is continually in jeopardy. He himself, attracted as he was by mechanism on the one hand, biology on the other, and always passionate that psychoanalysis be a science, continually tried to reduce mind to something else. In this many analysts continue to follow Freud, when they have not fled in the opposite direction to 'hermeneutics'.

So what do we mean by 'mind'? What is it to interpret a mind? And what is this 'meaning' upon which both symbols and interpretation rely? Whether aware of them or not, every psychoanalyst must have assumptions about such traditionally philosophical questions, assumptions which inevitably color their approach both to theory and to practice. Freud knew that the path from theory to clinical detail goes two ways. Of course theory is guided by evidence. It also guides it, not only in that circular way that describes any discipline, but also because there are bound to be some assumptions, hidden or seemingly beyond reproach, which motivate the whole inquiry and so in a way come first. Many of Freud's assumptions clearly had this sort of a priori nature.

Inquiring into these assumptions is one of the projects of this book and more particularly of Part I, beginning with a discussion of meaning and . . .

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