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Green, A. (1992). Cogitations: By Wilfred R. Bion, edited with a foreword by Francesca Bion. London and New York: Karnac Books. 1991. Pp. 406.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 73:585-589.

(1992). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 73:585-589

Cogitations: By Wilfred R. Bion, edited with a foreword by Francesca Bion. London and New York: Karnac Books. 1991. Pp. 406. Language Translation

Review by:
André Green

Cogitations is the name given by Bion to his thoughts transferred to paper. These reflections had been left behind in Bion's filing cabinets, and, unearthed by his wife Francesca, are now available for us to read. It is all very well to desist from publishing what is deemed unworthy of publication, but it must be admitted that Bion's sketches and cast-offs are much more valuable than the common run of material that finds its way into print. These day-to-day jottings are like a breath of fresh air from the open sea.

Compared with Bion's published works, the Cogitations are thrilling to read and often less difficult to assimilate, because the author's formulations are less condensed and because he makes us witnesses to the process of the unfolding of his thought. We literally follow him.

The psychoanalytic diary draws its material from two sources: clinical experience and reading. As for psychoanalysis, only the essentials are to be found: Freud (and then only certain works— The Interpretation of Dreams, 'Formulations on the two principles of mental functioning'); Melanie Klein (although no title other than Envy and Gratitude is mentioned, but only basic concepts); Winnicott (quoted once, on p. 166).

By contrast, we are struck by the wealth, variety and depth of Bion's philosophical reading, which covers epistemology as well as other aspects of philosophy. His avowed preferences on 10 January, 1959 (p. 21) are Kant, Whewell, Mill, Peirce, Poincaré, Russell and Popper (already!).

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