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Barratt, B.B. (1978). Critical Notes on Schafer's “Action Language”. Ann. Psychoanal., 6:313-314.

(1978). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 6:313-314

Critical Notes on Schafer's “Action Language”

Barnaby B. Barratt, Ph.D.

A Rejoinder From Dr. Barratt:

Although it is thoroughly appropriate that someone sympathetic but not acritical should attempt a response to the critique of A New Language for Psychoanalysis, Fourcher's “Reply” concurs with so much of the central criticism that it becomes difficult to discern in what sense he believes he has found “inadequacies” in my argumentation, or how much, if any, of Schafer's “action-language” formulation he is actually prepared to advocate—apart from the rejection of naturalistic discourse, a move which is openly commended, at the beginning and again at the end of my notes. The “Critical Notes” present three main lines of argument demonstrating that “action language” is pre-Freudian. These concern the circularity of the scheme—the conceptual hotchpotch of “meaning,” “action,” “reason,” and “situation”—the merely postdictive status accorded to “meaning,” and the formulation's abrogation of the notion of the repressed unconscious. With respect to the first argument, Fourcher suggests that, if Schafer's scheme were dialectical, a certain circularity might not be so problematic. However, he does not claim that Schafer is in fact a dialectician, or that “action language” is a dialectical formulation. With respect to the second argument, Fourcher again appeals for clemency but does not deny the criticism. He repeatedly declares that Schafer wants to retain the primacy of constitutive meaning, but he does not claim that “action language” does actually do so.

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