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Frie, R. (1999). A Review of Open Minded: Working Out the Logic of the Soul: Jonathan Lear. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998. 345 pp.. Contemp. Psychoanal., 35(3):527-532.

(1999). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 35(3):527-532

Psychoanalysis and Philosophy

A Review of Open Minded: Working Out the Logic of the Soul: Jonathan Lear. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998. 345 pp.

Review by:
Roger Frie, Ph.D.

FREUD WAS A GREAT ADMIRER OF ART, literature, and the classics, all of which were important to the development of psychoanalysis. His relationship with philosophy was more tenuous, however. Freud's interest in establishing the validity of his explanations as science led him to distinguish sharply between psychoanalysis and philosophy. He separated the findings of psychoanalysis from pronouncements of a similar nature in philosophy. Thus, for example, Freud recognized the way in which the philosophies of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche coincided with the theories of psychoanalysis (Freud, 1925), yet he made the dubious claim not to have read either. And when Freud's philosophically inclined colleague, Ludwig Binswanger, questioned the psychoanalytic conception of the unconscious, Freud asked accusingly, “has the philosophical devil got you in his claws?” (Binswanger, 1957, p. 64). Freud's project of creating a science while maintaining a bulwark against what he referred to as “speculative metaphysics” had a lasting effect on the discipline of psychoanalysis. Today's clinicians often know little of Descartes and even less of the classical philosophers. As the issue of psychoanalysis as science begins to recede, however, there is room for renewed consideration of the connections between psychoanalytic and philosophical inquiry.

Jonathan Lear's interesting new book takes up and explores the multifaceted relationship between psychoanalysis and philosophy. Lear laments the way in which both professions have become narrow and rigid.

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