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Sarasin, P. (1924). Einführung in Die Probleme Der Allgemeinen Psychologie: By Ludwig Binswanger. (Berlin: Julius Springer, 1922.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 5:230-232.

(1924). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 5:230-232

Einführung in Die Probleme Der Allgemeinen Psychologie: By Ludwig Binswanger. (Berlin: Julius Springer, 1922.)

Review by:
Ph. Sarasin

The intention of this book, which bears evidence of a wide knowledge of literature, is to introduce the reader to the 'fundamental problem' of scientific psychology, namely, that of 'subjectivity as such' or of 'consciousness'.

The task is a comprehensive one, but the inquiry pursues a single line towards a single goal: the subjective.

The foundation upon which the work is built up consists of the philosophical and psychological writings of Stumpf, Brentano, Husserl, Lipps, Natorp, Leibnitz and Kant—to mention only a few of the writers —some of whom are actually quoted, whilst the ideas of others are interwoven into the discussion. I need hardly mention that this book can be appreciated only from the psychological-philosophical point of view; the author presupposes in his readers a knowledge of the literature of the subject and a common line of interest.

The psycho-analyst and physician, accustomed in his researches to exclude the subjective in any form and to adopt a cool and objective attitude towards his observations, yet finds his attention drawn to Binswanger's book by the fact that it is dedicated to two scientists whose work is quite distinct from philosophy: Bleuler and Freud. Both names occur again in the text; in view of this I have read the book and tried to understand it.

It falls into two principal sections. In the first the problem of subjectivity is discussed as it relates to the subject's own ego, while in the second it is considered in relation to the ego of others.

Special care is devoted to the concept and its significance. Let us now look into the book more closely. The author first turns to the definition of the mental and expatiates on its 'objective peculiarities'. We read of 'the actualities of the content (inhaltliche Wirklichkeiten) in the mental life' (Dilthey), of the 'free and creative principle' at work in it (Bergson, James, H. Lotze), and of the constitution and inner unity of the mind. Above all, we are told that it does not possess properties such as we perceive in real objects; the psychic cannot be identified with anything else; it cannot be expressed in terms of quantity nor can it be treated objectively.

Next, the true world of mental life is revealed to us: 'the fact of consciousness in the sense of subjectivity as such'.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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