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Fireman, G. (1991). Knowledge as Desire: An Essay on Freud and Piaget: Hans G. Furth. New York: Columbia University Press, 1987, 179 pp., $22.50. Psychoanal. Psychol., 8(2):239-247.

(1991). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 8(2):239-247

Knowledge as Desire: An Essay on Freud and Piaget: Hans G. Furth. New York: Columbia University Press, 1987, 179 pp., $22.50

Review by:
Gary Fireman, Ph.D.

Two critical questions for a science of mind are why we think and feel the way we do and how we come to think and feel this way. The question of “why” concerns the psychological subject and the individual subject. Often framed in biological terms, the emphasis is on individual differences, abnormal behavior, and personality. The question of “how” concerns the epistemic subject. Here the emphasis is on the general structures of mind and the development of knowledge. In this arena, questions of the relation between knowledge and emotion are critical. That is, through the synthesis of knowledge and emotion, the gap in understanding between personal everyday experiences and general scientific theory may be closed. The synthesis of knowledge and emotion is the primary goal of H. G. Furth's book, Knowledge as Desire: An Essay on Freud and Piaget. Taking Freud as having provided the most comprehensive theory of emotion, and Piaget as having provided the most comprehensive theory of knowledge, Furth states, “What is lacking, however, for a fruitful understanding of either theory is a whole picture that directly links knowledge and emotions” (p. 3). He interprets Freud and Piaget as splitting intellect and emotion into separate and possibly antagonistic processes, and argues that a synthesis of Píaget's theory of knowledge and Freud's theory of drive will produce a more complete theory of mind.

Furth's Intention in Knowledge as Desire

Furth begins by noting the different foci of Freud and Piager, then sketches some basic similarities between Freud's and Piaget's conceptions of mind.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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