Freud's Debt to Philosophy and His Copernican Revolution
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter analyzes Freud's debt to, and impact on, philosophy. It begins by distinguishing between the many influences on the young Freud and the formal debt he owed to transcendental philosophy. It then examines two important ways in which Freud challenged Kant's epistemology: the first in terms of the explanatory and diagnostic resources of Freud's model of the mind; the second in light of Freud's contribution to the structure of mental temporality. Finally, it turns to his case of male hysteria to argue that, while owing philosophy a complicated and unacknowledged debt, Freud delivered a blow to the Aristotelian-Kantian conception of affectivity and passions. By psychologizing hysteria, Freud made it impossible to hold to simple divisions of the passions into educable versus ineducable, masculine versus feminine ones—or even to argue that affectivity should be reduced to physiological events and changes in the body.
FREUD began his intellectual life with a passion for philosophy. At the university of Vienna, that passion was fed powerfully by the Aristotelian Franz Brentano. For 20 years, from the 1880s into the late 1890s (in his letters to Silberstein and to Fliess), it echoes through Freud's correspondence. Freud's path of studies meandered famously from philosophy and zoology, to medicine, to neurology, to psychopathology. However, in 1885, by the time he returned from his spring semester with Jean-Martin Charcot at the Hôpital de la Salpêtrière, in Paris, Freud had made a decision. He returned to Vienna, delivered a simple report to the Society of Physicians at the university, and unwittingly caused an unprecedented uproar. The condition of hysteria, which he had observed at length in Paris, afflicted women and men, he argued. This uniquely feminine pathology—whether its cause was anatomical or physiological—somehow overtook men, as well.
There is a remarkable connection between Freud's passion for philosophy—indeed, his debt to a few philosophers, notably Kant—and his psychological interpretation of hysteria. The connection concerns the extensions of transcendental philosophy in twentieth-century psychology. It also concerns the fate of philosophical (p.339) psychology after Kant's logical destruction of the arguments for a possible thinking substance, or soul, in his “Antinomies of Pure Reason.” As we will see, Freud owed a significant debt to Kant's transcendental logic, which formed the core of Kant's “Copernican Revolution.” Moreover, Freud sought to prolong Kant's revolution to include, in his own dynamic psychology, normal and abnormal mental life in their interrelations through the unconscious. For that he required, in addition to the clinical “laboratory” of the analyst's couch, his own transcendental analytic and deduction, as we will see.
Kant's first Critique had destroyed the logical grounds for a dual substance theory (i.e., extended versus thinking substances), and, with this, the arguments for an entity called a “soul.” Rational psychology after Kant had little else to do than observe the phenomena of psychic life. Now, although he was wont to profess indifference to philosophy, Freud not only was influenced by it but also adapted one of its most powerful tools in the nineteenth century: transcendental analysis and deduction. In working with his conception of a psychical primary process and, later, of the preconscious and the unconscious, Freud altered the nature and scope of questions for philosophy of mind.1 At the same time, he utterly shook up rational philosophy's conception of affects and passions. He did this both by criticizing psychophysical parallelism tied to dual substance theories and by demonstrating that the so-called feminine passions could be found in men by virtue of their psyches, rather than their bodies.
The story of Freud's debt to, and impact on, philosophy was long unexplored. Yet, recent interest in Freud as a philosopher is clear. Before I sketch the unfolding of Freud's debt, recent inquiries into his relationship to philosophy should be noted.
I Recent Work on Freud and Philosophy
In the past ten years, English-speaking philosophers, both analytic and continental, have reengaged Freud as a philosophical thinker. Commentators such as Samuel Weber, Sebastian Gardner, and Richard Boothby, among others, have reread Freud's theories of anxiety and the unconscious and his topology of id, ego, and superego. They have examined these in light of the meaning of subjective agency, the will, the nature of intentionality, the synthesis of consciousness, and so on. Indeed, Michael P. Levine's collection The Analytic Freud turns on the provocative wager that “the integration of psychoanalytic theory with [commonsense] philosophy [may be] necessary to both” disciplines today.2
Interest has also come from feminist critiques of, and dialogues with, Freud, including those of Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigaray, Marcia Cavell, Amélie Oksenberg (p.340) Rorty, Jennifer Radden, and Teresa Brennan, to mention a few.3 Moreover, Jacques Lacan's reading of Freud's unconscious according to a structuralist logic and his insistence that Freud be understood in light of Hegel's dialectics and Nietzsche's drives have prompted both cultural studies and continental philosophy to inquire into the philosophical implications of Freudianism.4
II Philosophical Influences on Freud's Psychoanalysis
This essay deliberately follows three thematic tracks. First, I explore Freud's debt to philosophy by distinguishing between the many influences on the young Freud and the formal debt he owed to transcendental philosophy. After that, I examine two important ways in which Freud challenged Kant's epistemology: the first in terms of the explanatory and diagnostic resources of Freud's model of the mind; the second in light of Freud's contribution to the structure of mental temporality. Finally, I turn to his case of male hysteria to argue that, while owing philosophy a complicated and unacknowledged debt, Freud delivered a blow to the Aristotelian-Kantian conception of affectivity and passions. By psychologizing hysteria, Freud made it impossible to hold to simple divisions of the passions into educable versus ineducable, masculine versus feminine ones—or even to argue that affectivity should be reduced to physiological events and changes in the body.
To begin, we should distinguish between influences and debts in Freud's life. At the end of the nineteenth century, philosophical influences on psychological and psychiatric thought were numerous. They were perversely clear whenever psychology pursued the scientific refutation of philosophical arguments. To that end, psychology found itself embracing either mechanisms inspired by materialist philosophies or organicist teleologies, to which Hegel had given the greatest impetus. In his early years at the University of Vienna (1873–75), Freud discovered philosophy through Franz Brentano, the proto-father of phenomenology, whom he readily qualified as a “genius.”5 Brentano's genius lay in holding Darwinism and Aristotelian teleology together, while rejecting speculative psychology and embracing a Lockean notion of simple ideas and interpreting the ego as pure act.6 Freud's early letters to his friend Eduard Silberstein (1871–81)7 attest to Freud's love for, and tension with, Brentano. At that time, Freud thought of himself as a materialist, while Brentano was a believer. Freud was attracted by rational psychology, while Brentano insisted that he avoid the rationalist inheritors of Descartes and read Hume and Kant instead. We learn from Freud's letter of March 7, 1875, that Brentano believed that the philosophy of his time was “in absolute chaos” and that philosophy and psychology should limit their inquiries to empirical observation. To that end, Brentano suggested that Freud avoid (p.341) Geulinx, Malebranche, and Spinoza and devote himself to Hume's skepticism and to Kantian criticism.
So considerable was Brentano's influence on him that Freud would declare, in a letter from March 15 of that year, “For the time being, I have ceased to be a materialist and am not yet a theist” ( SFES 1990: 104–5).
To be sure, Freud's relationship to philosophy in later years showed more ambivalence than we find in his letters to Silberstein. His debts are arguably to Leibniz and Kant. They are debts because these philosophies formed the conditions of possibility for Freud's models of mental life: Leibniz, for the notion of unconscious thoughts; Kant, for the transcendental strategies. I turn to Kant in part III.
Freud's revolution turned on his discovery and mappings of what he called das Unbewusste, or the “Unconscious.” He never claimed to have discovered the unconscious eo ipso, only to have grounded it on a dynamic principle of forces, or energies, potentially in conflict,8 and to have brought a clinical method to its investigation. From his season in Paris with Charcot (1885) and his work with Josef Breuer (1893–95), Freud sought a scientific and therapeutic approach to the unconscious in light of the hysterics, male and female, observed at the Salpêtrière and under the treatment of his colleague Breuer—notably, in the latter's erstwhile patient “Anna O” in their joint work, Studies in Hysteria.9
We get a keen sense of the ultimate ambition behind Freud's mental topography from the remarks he makes in his 1926 “Self-Presentation.” It meant nothing less than accounting for all psychic phenomena, normal and abnormal, conscious and unconscious. He wrote there: “Later, I ventured the attempt at a `Metapsychology.' I gave that name to the type of observation, in which every psychic process [ jeder seelische Vorgang] was appreciated according to the coordinates of the Dynamic, the Topical, and the Economic [in framing the unconscious], and I saw in it the most far-reaching goal that psychology could reach.”10 Now this goal included all psychologies, philosophical and physiological, though by the 1920s the natural scientific model was the framework behind which Freud obscured his philosophical aspiration.
To return to his influences, the development of psychoanalysis as a budding Naturwissenschaft [natural science] ( P: 64) erected on the “science of the unconscious” took three decades. In those years, Freud's relationship to philosophy took the forms of selective borrowings11—including borrowed concepts such as A. Schopenhauer's conception of will, G. W. Fechner's mechanism, T. Lipps's theory of association, and modifications of Nietzsche's drives. While making his selections, Freud criticized philosophy for its two fundamental ambitions: its totalizing system building and its equation of mind with consciousness ( P: 72ff; GW 8: 406). Like Brentano, Freud opposed pure speculation and insisted that no epistemology could explain nature and culture together. That was the luxury of what he called, derisively, a Weltanschauung, or worldview. His psychoanalysis remained faithful to natural science because, he argued with circular reasoning, psychoanalysis “is inapt at forming a proper Weltanschauung,” for “it has no need for one [since] it is a part of science” ( GW 15: 170; P: 69).
Freud's opposition to philosophical “worldviews” is understandable, given his (p.342) philosophical influences. At the end of the nineteenth century, philosophy was certainly “in chaos.” Significant contemporary figures, influenced by Darwin, had embraced forms of social Darwinism, cultural Lamarckianism, and interpretations of biogenesis, pansexualism, and psychogenesis that hierarchized cultures and races ( FBM: 252–57, 274ff). Already in 1903, echoing the values of many intellectuals of his time, Otto Weininger, the classicist turned philosopher, decried the decadence and sensualism of Viennese arts and letters and announced the era of “ Kultur in the place of Zivilisation, of the Volk and the race in the place of the masses, of the Weltanschauung in the place of skepticism, and of synthesis in the place of analysis.”12 A little more than a decade later, Oswald Spengler echoed Weininger's concerns as he began writing his Untergang des Abendlandes (1911).
Many intellectuals read Weininger, and Freud became painfully aware of his work. His controversial book Geschlecht und Charakter explored humans' ontogenetic bisexuality while it decried the recent effeminization and “Judaization” of European man. The book sold well and became the occasion for bitter arguments between Freud and his then closest friend, Wilhelm Fliess. Fliess was probably the only man to whom Freud had dared to declare in 1896, “I secretly nurse the hope of arriving by the same route [medicine] at my own original, objective philosophy. For that was my original ambition.”13
Long after Weininger's suicide in 1903, Freud would declare synthesis and Weltanschauungen anathema to scientific endeavor. Yet, in so doing, Freud was neither consistent nor wholly dogmatic,14 because he sought both the legitimacy of science and a legacy comparable to that of transcendental philosophy.15
Nevertheless, during the pre–World War I period, Freud's relationship to philosophy soured further into professions of know-nothingness. Yet, his “unconscious” philosophical sophistication astonished Ludwig Binswanger, the psychologist from Switzerland who was deeply sympathetic to psychoanalysis. Binswanger wrote, when he visited Freud in February 1910:
I took note.“None of us has acquired the habit of thinking simultaneously of the ego and conscious processes on the one hand, and the processes of the unconscious and of the sexual instinct on the other.” The demand for such simultaneous thinking showed methat Freud had a genuinely philosophical vein, even though he was not aware of it.On one occasion, [Freud stated] during a Wednesday meeting that “the unconscious is metaphysic, we simply posit it as real.”16
Freud's gesture to a barebones transcendentalism was followed by a question concerning Kant's “thing in itself.” Binswanger records Freud's subsequent discussion with Paul Häberlin: “Freud asked [Häberlin] whether Kant's thing in itself was not identical with the unconscious. [Häberlin] denied this, laughing, and suggested that the two notions were on entirely different levels” ( RF: 9). In his dialogue with Häberlin, Freud was giving voice to what would prove to be his great philosophical debt. I suspect he was also casting about for legitimating antecedents to his “metaphysic” of the unconscious. Over time, Freud would work to bring Häberlin's “entirely different levels” together. The neoscience he expressed in regard to philosophy was (p.343) related to his will to weave philosophical insights through his science, while criticizing philosophical constructions.
I alluded earlier to some of the “philosophies” that prompted Franz Brentano to declare the discipline in chaos in the 1880s. Needless to say, Freud kept his distance from social Darwinism, though he embraced Lamarckianism and the dusty Recapitulation theory that ontogenesis reproduces phylogenesis. But, like that of many of his peers, Freud's clinical work was shot through with philosophical influences. His speculations, like those in “Beyond the Pleasure Principle” (1920), resembled what was popularly called Hirrenmythologie, or informal exercises in philosophy of mind. Despite the decadence of Idealist dialectics from Fichte to Schelling, and the mysterious theories of life force (first popularized by the celebrated neurologist Johannes von Müller and expanded by Freud's teacher Theodor Meynert, who argued that “force” should replace Kant's Ding an sich), Freud employed these ideas to his own ends.17 Despite the slippage of Darwinism into radical forms (E. Häckel)18 and social-cosmological, evolutionist fantasies like those of Spencer, Galton, and de Gobineau—who combined notions like the “subconscious” mind with those of evolving and retarded races—Freud adapted Darwinism to his theories of sexual and cultural development. Gustave Le Bon's psychology of crowds revisited natural law in racist terms;19 Freud cited him at length in his “Mass Psychology and Ego Analysis” (1920). But Freud's goals were unchanging: to subject these theories to correction or supplementation by depth psychology.20 Even the philosophical imperative of the time—the improvement of the races, which grew out of biological and cultural misreadings of Darwin and which guided much empirical research—became grist for the Freudian mill that reinterpreted the social Darwinists and the sociobiological in terms of his depth psychology.21
If science meant for Freud insistence on observation and therapeutic efficacy ( FdL 17: 217ff),22 then this proved an insufficiently protected position. Freud sought legitimacy elsewhere. His use of a formally transcendental logic, along with his own case history form,23 grounded his peculiar science. Freud's Kantian strategies themselves consisted in what we might call a transcendental analytic and deduction: that is, the analysis of symptoms and oneiric and linguistic signs (dream symbols, lapsus linguae, forgetting of names), aiming to show their conditions of possibility, and the deduction of the rules that order those unconscious ideas evident in dreams and psychoses, formally not so unlike Kant's a priori categories of the understanding.
III Freud's Debt to Kant
Freud was a dualist. But he was neither a psychophysical parallelist nor a Cartesian interactionist. He rejected physical reductionism (even that of William James) and localization theories like that of the neurologist Hughlings Jackson, who had influ (p.344) enced him. This made Freud's particular dualism unconventional. Kant's transcendental psychology provided him a strategy against the psychophysical parallelisms popular in his time. In his 1915 lecture “The Unconscious,” he addressed the primary objection to his theory of a psychic rather than a physical unconscious: the neurological or physiological nature of drives. His foils were Fechner and Meynert, but his target was ultimately Cartesian parallelism. “When all our latent memories are taken into consideration,” he argued, “it becomes totally incomprehensible how the existence of the unconscious can be gainsaid. We then encounter the objection that these latent recollections can no longer be described as mental processes, but that they correspond to residues of somatic processes,”24 rather like Descartes's pineal gland, which was mysteriously moved by both physical and psychical forces.
“Somatic residues” were a popular concept in dualist and materialist circles as Freud developed his psychoanalysis.25 But Freud recognized that psychophysical parallelism either entailed a third-man logic that posited some intermediary instance between body and mind and then had to determine whether it was principally corporeal or mental parallelism or left to speculation how a memory became simply physical and how it could ever be subsequently brought back to consciousness. The solution required the abandonment of Cartesianism, “which breaks up all mental continuity, plunges us into the insoluble difficulties of psychophysical parallelismand finally, forces us prematurely to retire from the territory of psychological research without ever being able to offer us any compensation elsewhere” ( CP: 100). By 1926, Freud was more emphatic: “The neurotic [and the unconscious] is certainly an undesired complicationfor medicine.But it exists and concerns medicine closely. And forits treatment, medical training can give us nothing, but absolutely nothing.”26 It could offer nothing because either medicine was locked in psychophysical parallelism or it was materially reductionist.27
In his 1915 talk “The Unconscious,” Freud expressed approval of and ambivalence about Kant's strategies. “The psychoanalytic assumption of unconscious mental activity appears to us, on the one hand, a further development of that primitive animism which caused our own consciousness to be reflected in all around us, and, on the other hand an extension of the corrections begun by Kant in regard to our views on external perception” ( CP: 104). Still, it was the transcendental logic—as Kant had argued it—that provided Freud with a real gain in meaning, which was, he insisted, “a perfectly justifiable ground for going beyond the limits of direct experience.”28 Better, it offered a way out of the Cartesian-Fechnerian circle of reason, in which mind investigated mind for mental contents and discovered only physical residues.
Freud sought to go further than Kant had ventured. Conceptually, Freud's “Copernican Revolution” provided a passage between mental events in normal consciousness and those characteristic of abnormal conditions. Therapeutically, Freud's “science of the unconscious” extended psychological practice to cases to which psychiatry and psychology had been unreceptive. Psychoanalysis could thus eventually provide the ground for psychology itself, rather than the reverse.29 And Freud's psychic dynamism (conflicts), psychic economy (variations in quantities of drive cathexes), and (p.345) psychic topology (metaphoric “sites” from and to which drives “move”) struck a transcendental blow against Kant's temporally structured, internal intuition. If conscious life is temporally and spatially structured with a universal specificity in Kant, then conscious life, when enlarged by Freud's notions of the unconscious and the preconscious, shows us a more complex temporality than Kant's—a temporality that accounted for the persistence and somatization of traumatic memories, as well as the regressions exhibited by patients in therapy.
Hoping to bring about a contemporary Copernican Revolution,30 Freud remained in competition with Kant and Kantianism. Binswanger's report of Freud calling the unconscious “a metaphysic,” not to mention Freud's search for a Ding an sich that was utterly different from Kant's formal noumenon31 lead us to wonder whether Freud was really as wrong about the difference of levels as Häberlin thought. Heuristically, the unconscious was like the thing in itself to the extent that the unconscious alone should make possible—in and despite its (noumenal) opacity—the true grasp of consciousness's unity. Formally, the unconscious was arguably more than Kant's noumenon, because it did not set a speculative limit to the possibilities of experience but instead opened certain types of experience to a systematic investigation of levels of meaning that were inaccessible to other psychologies. Yet, Freud's noumenal instance (the unconscious) cast a darker shadow across both mental life and cultural evolution. Given the unconscious drives, Freud's psychic “system” put an end, if temporarily, to aspirations at mental totalization, whether philosophical or psychological. Freud could explain the hiatuses of consciousness, but in so doing he foreclosed psychic transparency and complete integration.32
IV Freud's Critique of Philosophy of the Passions: Male and Female Hysterics
I now come to the third theme of Freud's relationship to philosophy: his unwitting blow to the theory of passions. It was thus in abnormal psychology that Freud's work may have been the most radical. When Freud delivered his report to the Viennese Society of Physicians, following his stay at the Salpêtrière, and reported on Charcot's observation, classification, and treatment of hysterics—male and female—he was met with passionate opposition. German-speaking physicians, like many of their English and French counterparts, were still in thrall to one of the three persisting theories of hysteria's etiology: first, the old anatomical theory, according to which hysteria arose when the womb moved within the body, thereby influencing other organs; second, the physiological theory, according to which hysteria was a disease of drifting humors in a body conceived of as a container; third, the reflex theory of hysteria, according (p.346) to which the disease was caused by the complex neurological connections between the womb and every other significant organ in a woman's body. In this last theory, when womb or ovaries became irritated, they “relayed reflex irritation to other parts of the body, causing attacks, convulsions, insensibilities, and paralyses,”or hysterical symptoms. The overlapping etiologies of hysteria and their dominant, generative metaphors justified the popular and philosophical conviction that bodily differences between men and women meant that each sex had its proper passions and virtues. As the privileged organ of pregnancy and the metonym for women's mysterious immanence, the womb accounted for “feminine virtues” like “compassion, kindness, constancy,” as well as for feminine passions or vices like “religious enthusiasm, erotomania, monomania, jealousycunning.”33 Women and men were given to passions that differed in their varieties and intensities. For Freud's scandalized Viennese colleagues, hysteria was a woman's passion. It was the feminine corporeal disorder.
Freud destabilized this classification and, with it, the guiding but unreflected logic of the passions. After being shouted out of the amphitheater on October 15, 1886, and subsequently barred from many laboratories, Freud produced a male hysteric, “Herr August P.,” in less than two months' time, on November 26. Evincing the characteristic anaesthesias, fainting spells, and areas of sensitivity, Herr August proved Freud's claim that there was at least one man in Vienna who exhibited the symptoms of hysteria. In describing his childhood and detailing the traumatic events that had preceded the outbreak of Herr August's symptoms, Freud psychologized a disease whose etiology had altered somewhat over time but had remained inflexibly biological and sex specific. The scandal was double. Not only could the male body present the symptoms of a disease that could no longer be said to originate from the uterus, but also the male psyche itself could fall prey to pathologies attributed to feminine nature. The only remaining question concerned the ultimate source of this possibility. Was masculine hysteria the result of the decadence of European culture generally—as many were arguing then, in response to the “social” turn Darwin's thought was taking?34 Or, was this a phenomenon of specific races and groups, like the criminals studied by Cesare Lombroso, less fit for survival than others? Freud would argue that it was neither.
Despite the fact that women made up the majority of Freud's hysterics, the fact remained that Freud had upset the gendered logic of the passions, which was so entrenched that philosophers from Kant to Kierkegaard, not to mention psychiatrists of all stripes, hardly gave it a second thought. Freud weakened a structure of philosophico-therapeutic thinking that, from the Greeks to modernity, had paired passions, weak and strong, with their respective sexes and had drawn its conclusions about the possibility of educating these passions into virtues. Thus, Freud's psychology worked surreptitiously against a philosophical inheritance that had been altered first by Kant's logical demolition of the “immaterial substance” or “soul” but that had held firm to gender essentialisms concerning the relationship between reason and passions (cf. Kant's Anthropology). Freud's Copernican Revolution was thus more than the extension of a theory of mind into pathological mental functioning; it left man in the condition held previously by woman: prey to pathologies caused by (p.347) trauma and a conflict between drives, or between drives and desires. In the matter of hysteria, no one could claim to be the enduring master in his own house of immanence. In short, Freud's debt to Kant's transcendental strategies helped him to create his psychoanalysis even as he dislodged philosophical values that distinguished mind from body, the experiential from the speculative, the masculine from the feminine.
Assoun, Paul-Laurent (1997) La Psychanalyse. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
Binswanger, Ludwig (1957) Sigmund Freud: Reminiscences of a Friendship. Translated by N. Guterman. New York: Grune and Stratton.
Boehlich, Walter (ed.) (1990) The Letters of Sigmund Freud to Eduard Silberstein, 1871–1881. Translated by A. J. Pomerans. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Boothby, Richard (2001) Freud as Philosopher, Metapsychology after Lacan. New York: Routledge.
Brennan, Teresa (1992) The Interpretation of the Flesh: Freud and Femininity. New York: Routledge.
Brentano, Franz (1995) Descriptive Psychology. Translated by Benito Müller. New York: Routledge.
Breuer, Josef, and Freud, Sigmund (1966) Studies on Hysteria. Edited by James Strachey and Anna Freud. New York: Basic Books.
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Cavell, Marcia (1993) The Psychoanalytic Mind: From Freud to Philosophy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Crane, Tim, and Patterson, Sarah (eds.) (2000) History of the Mind-Body Problem. New York: Routledge.
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Ellenberger, Henri F. (1970) The Discovery of the Unconscious: The History and Evolution of Dynamic Psychiatry. New York: Basic Books.
(p.350) Felman, Shoshana, and Laub, Dori (1991) Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis, and History. New York: Routledge.
Freud, Sigmund (1959) “The Unconscious.” In Sigmund Freud: Collected Papers, vol. 4. Translated by Joan Riviere. New York: Basic Books.
Freud, Sigmund (1972) Gesammelte Werke. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Verlag.
Gardner, Sebastian (1991) “The Unconscious.” In Jerome Neu (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Freud. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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Irigaray, Luce (2002) To Speak Is Never Neutral. Translated by Gail Schwab. New York: Continuum.
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Kristeva, Julia (2002) Intimate Revolt. Translated by J. Herman. New York: Columbia University Press.
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Levine, Michael P. (ed.) (2000) The Analytic Freud: Philosophy and Psychoanalysis. New York: Routledge.
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MacIntyre, Alasdair (1997) The Unconscious: A Conceptual Analysis. Bristol, UK: Thoemmes Press.
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Radden, Jennifer (2000) “Love and Loss in Freud's Mourning and Melancholia: A Re-reading.” In M. Levine (ed.), The Analytic Freud. New York: Routledge, pp. 211–30.
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Rorty, Amélie Oksenberg (2000) “Affects, Mourning and the Erotic Mind.” In M. Levine (ed.), The Analytic Freud. New York: Routledge, pp. 195–209.
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(2) Weber, Legend of Freud ; Gardner, “The Unconscious,” pp. 136–60 (this essay explores the unconscious in light of the philosophy of mind and commonsense psychology); Boothby, Freud as Philosopher ; Levine, Analytic Freud .
(3) Kristeva, New Maladies of the Soul ; Kristeva, The Sense and Non-sense of Revolt ; Kristeva, Intimate Revolt ; Irigaray, “Poverty of Psychoanalysis”; and Cavell, Psychoanalytic Mind. See Rorty's discussion of the tensions between Aristotelian organicism and Hobbesian mechanism in Freud's theory of sexual development and her arguments for unconscious affects in “ Affects, Mourning and the Erotic Mind,” pp. 195–209. See also Radden, “Love and Loss in Freud's Mourning and Melancholia, pp. 211–30, and Brennan, Interpretation of the Flesh.
(5) Freud wrote Silberstein, on March 7, 1885: “When you and I meet, I shall tell you more about this remarkable man(a believer, a teleologist (!) and a Darwinian and a damned clever fellow, a genius in fact), who is, in many respects, an ideal human being. For now, just the news that under Brentano's fruitful influence, I have arrived at the decision to take my Ph.D. in philosophy and zoology.” See Boehlich and Pomerans, Letters of Sigmund Freud to Eduard Silberstein, p. 95; hereafter cited as SFES.
(7) Silberstein took degrees in philosophy and law and later struggled successfully against legal forms of anti-Semitism, such as denial of the right to vote and the “Jews' Oath,” in his native Romania. See SFES, pp. 95, 103–5.
(8) See Assoun's discussion of Freud's dynamic viewpoint of psychic processes as it intersects with the economic organization of the unconscious, in the metapsychology. Section 3, “Structure et principes de la métapsychologie,” in his Psychanalyse, pp. 383–86. Hereafter cited as P.
(11) A brief list of Freud's use of philosophical influences illustrates this: Goethe, Romanticism, materialist reductionism in the service of psychology, Herbart's mechanism, and Fechner's speculative physics—for the “principle of constancy” applied to the nervous system. We find here themes freely gleaned, and an undeniable competition for concepts and legitimacy.
(13) Cited by Zanuso, Young Freud, p. 81. Fliess was the Berlin otolaryngologist and amateur psychologist who claimed to have conceived the idea of bisexuality and to have shared it with Freud in their correspondence.
(14) As Freud wrote to Einstein in 1932, “every natural science—including psychoanalysis—opens onto some sort of mythology.We have our mythology, it is the theory of drives” ( GW 16 : 22; P: 70).
(15) An Italian biographer described the youthful Freud as a respectful maverick and as “a philosopher and scientist intolerant of philosophy and science where these [are] closed systems dogmatically anchored in their own certitudes.” Zanuso, Young Freud, p. 85.
(16) Binswanger objected, “The labeling of the unconscious as metaphysic seemed to me misleadingbecause the unconscious was supposed to be the psychic par excellence. Freud agreed with methe proper term was not `metaphysic'but `metaconscious.'” See Binswanger, Sigmund Freud: Reminiscences of a Friendship, pp. 7–8. Hereafter cited as RF.
(17) Fichte was J. F. Herbart's teacher. But Herbart rejected idealism in favor of a neo-Kantian mechanist psychology, whose principles were both mathematical and laid claim to observation. Many of Herbart's notions, from the static and mechanical threshold to the principle of constancy of energy, influenced both Fechner and Freud. See Wyss, Psychoanalytic Schools from the Beginning to the Present, pp. 97–102. Schelling's late philosophy included a neo-Platonic or emanationist Naturphilosophie, for which the unity of nature and spirit proceeded from the Absolute, or the “World Soul.” See Ellenberger, Discovery of the Unconscious, pp. 202–3. For Freud's use of these ideas, see Jones, Life and Work of Sigmund Freud , vol. 1, p. 367. It was Herbert Spencer who used the concept of nerve force for theories of reflexes. See Ritvo, Darwin's Influence on Freud, p. 185.
(19) See Sternhell's remarkable discussion of Le Bon, Barrès, Sorel, and others, in La Droite révolutionnaire, pp. 148–50. Le Bon posited a general unconscious, governed by unknown forces. For him, “the natural condition of all beings is to be enslaved.” Here, we see the relationship between reductionist mechanism and political totalitarianism.
(20) See Freud, “Massenpsychologie und Ich-analyse,” in GW 13: 77. Freud immediately points out that Le Bon failed to explain why it is that when individuals form crowds, something like a new organism, a mass-creature, is formed: “By himself, LeBon does not answer this question, he assumes the transformation of the individual in the mass and describes it in expressions that stand in good accord with the fundamental provisions of our depth psychology” (my translation).
(21) This included Freud's borrowing Darwin's notion of the primal horde for his 1913 Totem and Taboo, to his struggle against Oswald Spengler and the German intellectuals of Kultur, for whom civilization evolved organically out of a given culture as the “destiny” of that culture. See Assoun, “Structure et principes de la métapsychologie,” p. 575, citing Spengler, Decline of the West, “Introduction,” Section 12.
(25) In the 1870s, English psychologists like William Carpenter and G. H. Lewes spoke of “unconscious cerebrations” and “unconscious sensual and volitional processes,” respectively. See Carpenter, Principles in Mental Physiology, and Lewes, Study of Psychology. Cited by Manson, “ Tumbling Ground for Whimsies?” pp. 152–54 and 166.
(26) See Freud, “The Question of Lay Analysis,” in GW 14: 264; emphasis added.
(27) See Freud, “Some Elementary Lessons in Psychoanalysis,” for his last attack on parallelism, in GW 17: 143–44 and 146.
(32) As Assoun puts it, quoting Freud's “On Psychoanalysis” (1910): “The dynamic explanation of the conscious-unconscious cleavage, effected `through the conflict of psychic forces' as a `result of an active struggle between two psychic groupings the one against the other' allows us to dispense with a conceptions like that of `an innate capacity of the psychic apparatus for synthesis.'” See Assoun, “Structure et principes de la métapsychologie,”pp. 385–86.
(34) This was in response to the first waves of feminism in Austria and to the rise in the Jewish population in Berlin and in Vienna, which was met with swells of anti-Semitism and variations of racial essentialisms. See Gilman, Jew's Body, chapter 3, “Jewish Psyche: Freud, Dora, and the Idea of the Hysteric,” and Albert Lindemann, Anti-Semitism before the Holocaust, pp. 53–57. Also see Sternhell, La Droite révolutionnaire, pp. 146ff.