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Money-Kyrle, R. (1931). A Philosopy of Reality: By E. L. Young. (Manchester University Press, 1930. Pp. 266. Price 8 s. 6 d. net.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 12:246-246.

(1931). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 12:246-246

A Philosopy of Reality: By E. L. Young. (Manchester University Press, 1930. Pp. 266. Price 8 s. 6 d. net.)

Review by:
R. Money-Kyrle

An individual's sense of the reality of objects depends upon his capacity to cathect them with libido and not upon his speculative philosophy. Thus the mentalist, to whom unseen objects are but possibilities of sensation, may have as robust a sense of their reality as the crude materialist who considers it no abuse of language to assert that they exist when they are not observed. Those, however, who misunderstand the mentalist position feel that it threatens the libidinal cathexis of their world. Miss Young seems to be of this number; for, although she is aware of the logical and philosophical difficulties of materialism, she feels that a mentalist phliosophy necessarily 'empties the concrete of a part of its interest' (page 40). Her book is an attempt to restore this 'interest' to the concrete, without lapsing into a crude materialism which is unable to define what is meant by the existence of extra-mental objects or to explain how they can be known. Her solution is heroically to assert an identity between the physical cause and the psychological effect.

Thus, in speaking of the greenness of the grass, she writes: 'The vibratory movement described by the undulatory theory of light is the path of a sensation which is greenness itself. The vibrations are not the cause of greenness. They are vibrations of green' (p. 11). Miss Young's sense of reality is not merely restored by this philosophy; it is deepened into a form of animatism which relates her to the universe. 'It is not only with the organic world that we feel the sense of our kinship strengthened by this belief in sensational reality; it unites us with the inorganic world with a clarity and intensity never realized before' (p. 14).

The rest of the book is devoted to the development of these ideas. There is no direct reference to psycho-analysis. But Miss Young does not believe in a dynamic unconscious (p. 85) or in unconscious desires (p. 96), and considers that dreams are 'rightly considered as of small importance' (p. 91). She also attributes the origin of the incest taboo to the disgenic consequences of inbreeding (p. 254). The book, however, contains some good passages and is well written.

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