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Gillespie, W.H. (1971). Aggression and Instinct Theory. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 52:155-160.

(1971). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 52:155-160

Aggression and Instinct Theory

W. H. Gillespie

When asked at rather short notice to write a paper on aggression for the forthcoming Congress I felt at first reluctant to undertake the task; but a vague feeling that there was something I wanted to say about the theory of aggression led me finally to accept. What later facilitated the expression of that unformulated feeling was a paper presented in July 1970 to the British Psycho-Analytical Society by Professor J. O. Wisdom (interested readers will find a general exposition in Wisdom (1969)); his theme was the important part played by Weltanschauung in scientific theories generally, and in the theories of psychoanalysis in particular. Freud stated more than once that psycho-analysis has no Weltanschauung; or alternatively that it simply shares that of science. Now one of Wisdom's main points is that there is no one scientific Weltanschauung, and that scientists deceive themselves if they believe that their theories are independent of an implicitly accepted Weltanschauung, which cannot be confirmed or refuted by any kind of testing, as can the other parts of their scientific theories. To cite one of Wisdom's examples, the two current and opposed astronomical theories of the origin of the universe appear to be espoused by their respective proponents in accordance with their belief or non-belief in God. The two psycho-analytic theories with which Wisdom mainly concerned himself were on the one hand Freud's libido theory, and on the other hand the theories which base themselves fundamentally on object-relationship, such as Fairbairn's, but, in Wisdom's view, Melanie Klein's theory as well.

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