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Chankin, D.O. (1983). Discovering the Mind, Volume One: Goethe, Kant, and Hegel. Walter Kaufman. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1980. xvi + 288 pp.: Discovering the Mind, Volume Two: Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Buber. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1980. xvii + 308 pp.. Psychoanal. Rev., 70:125-129.

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(1983). Psychoanalytic Review, 70(1):125-129

Book Reviews

Discovering the Mind, Volume One: Goethe, Kant, and Hegel. Walter Kaufman. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1980. xvi + 288 pp.: Discovering the Mind, Volume Two: Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Buber. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1980. xvii + 308 pp.

Review by:
Donald O. Chankin

Walter Kaufmann's subject is the attempt of several major German thinkers to formulate a viable philosophy of mind. He sees a line of development—starting from Goethe, going through Hegel and Nietzsche, and culminating in Freud—of a concept of mind that is scientific and yet poetic and non-mathematical. According to Kaufmann, Kant's influence on philosophy was “disastrous” in that Kant insisted that a philosophy of mind must rest on certainty and completeness. That is, Kant's idea of science was Newtonian, while Goethe's was non-Newtonian. Goethe stated clearly in the preface to The Doctrine of Colors that science is based not on certainty but on hypotheses that necessitate fresh starts and new hypotheses when the old ones become rigid and untenable. Thus Goethe foreshadowed Thomas Kuhn's model of science in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, as the creation of paradigms that are followed only as long as they are useful in explaining most of the data collected within them.

Kaufmann therefore starts his first volume not with Kant but with Kant's younger contemporary, Goethe, who rejected the notion that man has an essence. For Goethe, man is his acts and deeds. For Goethe, mind becomes an “inclusive term,” as Kaufmann puts it, for “feeling and intelligence, reason and emotion, perception and will, thought and unconscious.” For Goethe, the mind is inseparable from its own development, while for Kant, the mind is unchanging. Kaufmann points out that in spite of Goethe's great output he never repeated himself. His works are so totally different from one another as to be completely unpredictable. As Lawrence Kubie points out, there is a basic similarity, often a repetitive quality, in the works of even the greatest artists. But Goethe is an exception, an artist with little or no neurotic distortion in the creative process. His life and works represent a ceaseless, Faustian striving, a process of becoming. According to Kaufmann, it is possible to see the character of Faust as a critique of Kant's static model of the mind.

For Kaufmann, Kant's theory of the mind is totally implausible, though it is the basis of both his theory of knowledge and his ethics. Kant's The Critique

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