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Curtis, R.C. (1999). Not a Piano Key: Reply to Orange (1999). Psychoanal. Psychol., 16(2):312-315.

(1999). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 16(2):312-315

Not a Piano Key: Reply to Orange (1999) Related Papers

Review by:
Rebecca C. Curtis, Ph.D.

For who would want to desire according to a mathematical formula … men are still men and not keys of a piano on which the laws of nature are indeed playing any tune they like—Dostoevksy, Notes From the Underground

What I called “minor quibbles” with a book I found appealing appear to reflect some major issues. I liked this book, I think I did read it closely, I agree with most of it, but I do have different views from Orange on some matters, mainly those in the chapter “Beyond Technique.” The authors may have intended the book for readers in the tradition of European phenomenology, but I reviewed the book for psychoanalytic psychologists who are members of an American psychological association, not for a journal of philosophy or of psychoanalysis alone. Although I stated in the first sentence that the authors are trying to situate intersubjective psychoanalysis in a larger philosophical context (which I appreciate), the differences, I believe, lie in the authors' grounding in the continental phenomenological philosophy that has led the attack on what these philosophers see as the objectivism in current scientistic belief and the “technical interest” of natural scientists as opposed to the engagement of the human sciences. Although this has been a major theme among a group of phenomenologists, there are other hermeneutical phenomenologists, who have shown that scientific inquiry can be understood in terms of its historical and cultural context (cf. Heelan, 1991; Kockelsmans, 1991). In the space provided, I cannot sufficiently deal with the broad topics underlying this issue.

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