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Stolorow, R.D. Atwood, G.E. (1994). Rejoinder to Richard Chessick's “Radical Self-Psychology”. Am. J. Psychoanal., 54(1):71-75.

(1994). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 54(1):71-75

Rejoinder to Richard Chessick's “Radical Self-Psychology”

Robert D. Stolorow and George E. Atwood

We are grateful for the opportunity to respond to Chessick's intensely critical review of Contexts of Being with the following points.

1. Chessick complains that we do not give credit to those philosophers whose works might be regarded as antecedents of intersubjectivity theory. Curiously, although he cites it in a recent book of his own (Chessick, 1992), in his review he makes no reference to our earlier book Structures of Subjectivity (Atwood and Stolorow, 1984), which contains extensive discussions of the relationship of our ideas to the philosophies of Dilthey, Husserl, Heidegger, and Sartre. Chessick now usefully adds Hegel to the list of thinkers to whom we owe an intellectual debt, although we would hesitate to agree with his characterization of our orientation as Hegelian. Two features of Hegel's idealism distinguish it sharply from the intersubjective viewpoint in psychoanalysis. First, the Hegelian system is organized around the conception of the world-historical Spirit, a reified, absolutized notion precisely of the kind we have criticized and sought to eschew throughout the long course of our collaboration. The second differentiating feature lies in the lack of any provision within Hegel's thought for taking account of its own embeddedness within historical and cultural contexts. Indeed, as many scholars including Kierkegaard (1846) have pointed out, Hegel's principles and ideas implicitly exclude themselves from consideration as a part of the domain of historical human existence, except perhaps in an image of his thoughts being themselves the final fulfillment of the Spirit's evolution toward self-consciousness. It is in addition extremely difficult for us to believe that the three quotations appearing as an epigraph in Contexts of Being (from e. e. cummings, Martin Buber, and D. W. Winnicott) are directly derived from Hegel's work.

2. Our conception of intersubjectivity is quite different from Husserl's and was not borrowed from him.

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