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08/03/2011

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Chris Bertram

Hmm. I can see why vulnerability and the idea that we are not transparent to ourselves are important, but I don't see why I should accept more than those generalities and embrace psychoanalytic theory specifically. It looks pretty discredited to me as a scientific theory (which is what Freud himself took it to be).

Patrick S. O'Donnell

Chris,

It is true that Freud saw psychoanalysis as vindicated by his psychological theory(ies) (and in keeping with the image of science in his day), and as THAT kind of science (along the lines, say, of how Grunbaum understood and critiqued some Freudian 'theories'), I think it has indeed been discredited. But insofar as we might imagine a "science of subjectivity" in less positivistic terms, including a role for it as part of a program of askesis in Cottingham's sense, I think there's much to be said for psychoanalysis. Analytic philosophers of the "ordinary language" bent were rather dismissive of Freudian ideas, but fresh appraisals of psychoanalytic theory and practice have been underway for some time now and I think they suggest the undeniable value of a "neo-Freudian" take on psychoanalytic theory and the therapeutic significance of psychoanalytic practice.

I will add a list of representative titles (culled from the bibliography I linked to above) to the post anon. It remains, I think, a matter of careful discernment of what is living and what is dead in the Freudian corpus, analogous to what the 'analytical Marxists'--and a few outside that virtuous circle--have done with the works of Marx.

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