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Coltart, N.E. (1965). Reason and Violence: By R. D. Laing and D. G. Cooper. (London: Tavistock, 1964. Pp. 184. 25s.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 46:394-395.

(1965). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 46:394-395

Reason and Violence: By R. D. Laing and D. G. Cooper. (London: Tavistock, 1964. Pp. 184. 25s.)

Review by:
Nina E.C. Coltart

In this book, Laing and Cooper present expositions of Sartre's three major works of the last decade. There is a lucid introduction, which for most profit should be re-read immediately one has finished the book: it illuminates the difficult terminology, and particularly discusses the concept of 'ambiguity' in Sartre's work and language for which the reader should prepare himself if he is to attempt understanding. Part One—'Question of Method'—repays careful and attentive reading, as the use of such concepts as praxis, totalization, depassment thereby become more intelligible: if some awareness of them is assimilated, then Part Three—'Critique of Dialectical Reason'—is best taken at a run, without too much vertiginous dwelling on individual statements. The ideas it is expressing are vastly comprehensive and complex, and can best be appreciated in this way. Part One speaks more directly to the practising psycho-analyst, making one reflect on possible extensions of technique, and on increase in flexibility. While the section on Genet presents a fascinating existential study in terms which are reasonably accessible to a clinician, the Questions of Method offer stimulating lines of thought on the extent to which psycho-analysis compares unconflictingly with Sartre's thought, and yet how far also Sartre 'depasses' it. Part Two—'Sartre on Genet'—is a masterly summary of Sartre's lengthy work, Saint Genet; the evaluation of the development of Genet's character from the viewpoint of 'what one does to what is done to one', and particularly of the function of masturbation for Genet is of value to all analysts.

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