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Sharpe, E.F. (1935). Similar and Divergent Unconscious Determinants Underlying the Sublimations of Pure Art and Pure Science. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 16:186-202.

(1935). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 16:186-202

Similar and Divergent Unconscious Determinants Underlying the Sublimations of Pure Art and Pure Science

Ella Freeman Sharpe


1 Read before the Thirteenth International Psycho-Analytical Congress, Lucerne, 1934.

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The sublimations of art and science in all their multifarious aspects, pure and applied, make up roughly what we mean by civilization. They represent an infinite range of subtle combinations and transformations of psychical energies. We find these sublimations compatible with a well-developed reality-sense and adaptation to adult life. My concern in this paper is an inquiry into the determinants that underlie 'pure' art and 'pure' science. 'Pure' art and 'pure' science represent limited psychological phenomena, and in them we see on a massive scale the mechanisms which are more modified, more fused, or more partial in the scientific and artistic activities which are inseparable from civilized life.

By pure art I mean those products of creative genius which have been dictated only by the inner laws and urges of the creator. They serve no practical end and bow to no public criterion. The public bows to them. The pure artist of whom I speak will, if a section of the public acclaim and follow him, become a wealthy man—he for whom wealth has least worldly reality. Epstein is now affluent, but his practical life is virtually the same round of intense industry as when he was unknown. The goal of endeavour is neither worldly wealth nor ease. The pure artist

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