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

By Herbert Fingarette | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
THE INITIAL PHASE:
Guilt and Responsibility

THE MOVE FROM THE MORAL LEVEL CHARACTERISTIC OF CHILDhood to that characteristic of the mature adult comes when one faces one's own guilt and assumes responsibility. This transformation we shall examine in a systematic way. There is, however, such a pervasive background of misinterpretation of psychoanalysis in this connection that our first steps in this chapter will be critical rather than systematic exposition.

In this connection, the tendency in the nonpsychoanalytic literature has been to find that the rational implications of psychoanalysis are twofold. On the one hand, psychoanalysis is conceived of as antipathetic to the Calvinistic type of religious morality, the psychoanalytic war cry presumably being "Down with the repressive, burdensome conscience!" The corollary of this attitude toward guilt and conscience is a supposed bent inherent in psychoanalysis toward a more relaxed, hedonistic morality.

A specific aim of this chapter will be to show that (i) there is a moral outlook with respect to guilt and responsibility which is compatible with the data and theories of

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