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Lichtenstein, H. (1965). Towards a Metapsychological Definition of the Concept of Self. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 46:117-128.

(1965). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 46:117-128

Towards a Metapsychological Definition of the Concept of Self

Heinz Lichtenstein


The Aristotelian evolution was the development of the so-called 'form', the nature of the thing, which was already present. It presupposed the existence of the form as something that was there. In this conception a metaphysical entity was thought of which existed in and directed the development of the form. The species—which is the Latin word for the Greek term 'form'—was actually conceived of as a certain nature that supervised the development of the seed of the embryo into the normal adult form. Under the conception of Christian theology this form was thought of as existing first in the mind of God, then as appearing in the plants and animals and various other objects that he created, and finally as arising in our minds as concepts. …

The difference between that conception of evolution and the modern conception is given … in the very title of Darwin's book, The Origin of Species, that is, the origin of forms. What this theory is interested in is the evolution of the nature of the object, of the form, in a metaphysical sense. It is this which distinguishes the later theory of evolution from the former, namely, that the actual character of the object, the form or the nature itself, should arise instead of being given (my italics—H.L.).

George Herbert Mead (1936).

The year 1964 presents us with a double anniversary in the history of psycho-analysis: a personal anniversary in that we celebrate the 70th birthday of Heinz Hartmann; and a scientific anniversary due to the circumstance that it was twenty-five years ago that Hartmann's epoch-making contribution, 'Ego Psychology and the Problem of Adaptation' appeared in printed form.

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