The Self in Transformation: Psychoanalysis, Philosophy, & the Life of the Spirit

By Herbert Fingarette | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1
INSIGHT AND INTEGRATION:
Meaning and Being

I

IN THIS CHAPTER IT IS MY AIM TO PROVIDE A FRESH PERSPECtive on psychoanalysis and thereby to reveal a fundamental reason for the explosive and creative impact of psychoanalysis on twentieth-century civilization. Attention will center upon the concept of insight.

A simple but basic distinction governs the following analysis of Freud's language. It is the distinction between analyzing what a theory means and arguing about its truth. This distinction needs mentioning and brief comment just because it is so often lost from view in the polemics engendered by attempts to view Freud's theories critically or to attain fresh perspectives on those theories.

A trivial illustration will help recall the distinction in question. A reporter writes: "The Government rejected the proposal out of hand." His idiomatic statement may be true, and we who know English understand it. But the sentence does not itself carry the instructions for correct and precise interpretation. We have learned that, in certain contexts, "out of hand" is not a reference to an object which is not in someone's hand. "The Government rejects," an idiom which

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