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Kyrle, R.M. (1929). A Preface to Morals: By Walter Lipmann. (London: George Allen & Unwin, Ltd. Pp. 348. Price 10 s.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 10:487-488.

(1929). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 10:487-488

A Preface to Morals: By Walter Lipmann. (London: George Allen & Unwin, Ltd. Pp. 348. Price 10 s.

Review by:
R. Money Kyrle

Whereas Dr. Ringbom in his Renewal of Culture deals with the desire for freedom, Walter Lipmann is concerned with the disillusions which freedom has already brought. They both express the complaints of the revolutionary son. But whereas one is obsessed with the son's impatience at restraint, the other presents the consequences of his unconscious guilt after he is free. 'Among those who no longer believe in the religion of their fathers', writes Walter Lipmann, 'some are proudly defiant, and many are indifferent. But there are also a few, perhaps an increasing number, who feel that there is a vacancy in their lives. This inquiry deals with their problem' (p. 3). The rebel is often unable to imagine the consequences of his own victories. 'For the smashing of idols is in itself such a preoccupation that it is almost impossible for the iconoclast to look clearly into the future when there will not be many idols left to smash. Yet that future is beginning to be our present, and it might be said that men are conscious of what modernity means in so far as they realize that they are confronted not so much with the necessity of promoting rebellion as of dealing with the consequences of it' (pp. 15, 16). Thus Walter Lipmann depicts the latest recurrence of the state of the Primal Brother Horde after they had slain their father.

But he sees clearly that the old solution is no longer possible. Man can no longer rediscover the loved and hated father in a totem or in a personal god. For to the modern spirit the belief in the supernatural kingdom 'must necessarily seem a grandiose fiction projected by human needs and desires' (p. 143). The new problem is 'how mankind, deprived of the great fictions, is to come to terms with the needs which created those fictions' (p. 144).


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