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Carveth, D.L. (2002). Psychoanalysis, Science and Masculinity by Karl Figlio. Whurr Series in Psychoanalysis. Edited by Peter Fonagy and Mary Target. Whurr Publishers, London & Philadelphia 2000, pp. 236. ISBN: 1 86156 203 9.. Free Associations, 9(4):649-651.

(2002). Free Associations, 9(4):649-651

Psychoanalysis, Science and Masculinity by Karl Figlio. Whurr Series in Psychoanalysis. Edited by Peter Fonagy and Mary Target. Whurr Publishers, London & Philadelphia 2000, pp. 236. ISBN: 1 86156 203 9.

Review by:
Donald L. Carveth

In this work, Karl Figlio addresses what he sees as the unconscious phantasies that underlie the relentless pursuit of scientific knowledge of both the external and the internal worlds and the unconscious guilt that he thinks both results from and, in turn, motivates this quest. He sees Western culture as obsessed by the scientific drive to get to ‘the beginning of the beginning.’ Paradoxically, however, hand in hand with our confidence in rationality and our technical mastery comes anxiety and a resurgence of magical thinking. Figlio sees such dread and the irrationalism to which it gives rise as rooted in the phantasies accompanying the quest for knowledge, a drive he associates with a phallic masculinity that seeks to invade, dominate, and colonize (mother) nature. The inherent destructiveness of this phallic drive gives rise to primitive guilt and fears of retribution that, in a vicious cycle, motivate further defensive phallic attempts to know and dominate. Science seeks relentlessly to get to the beginning, but fears ruining the sources of nature.

This duality of science leads me to the conclusion that the relentless spirit of science both drives ever more deeply into nature and at the same time proclaims its innocence, that each new discovery is both the outcome of a foray into nature and a demonstration that everything is okay so far: that we are innocent. Science is a moral quest as well as an institutionalized process of discovery. (p.

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