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Groarke, S. (2016). ‘Though he Slay Me, Yet will I Trust in Him’: A Critical Reconstruction of Winnicott's Theory of Value. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 97(4):1035-1056.

(2016). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 97(4):1035-1056

Interdisciplinary Section

‘Though he Slay Me, Yet will I Trust in Him’: A Critical Reconstruction of Winnicott's Theory of Value

Steven Groarke

(Accepted for publication 3 June 2015)

This paper extrapolates an outline for a theory of value from Winnicott's reflections on war in ‘Discussion of war aims’ (1940). The author treats Winnicott's discussion as an occasion for a critical reconstruction of his theory of life-values. He discerns an implicit set of distinctions in Winnicott's reflections on war, including different orders of value (existential, ethical, and psychosocial); a distinction between maturity and necessity; and a yet more fundamental distinction between violence and brutality. The paper argues, on the basis of these distinctions, that Winnicott allows for an understanding of one's encounter with the enemy as an ethical relation. The main argument of the paper is that the ethical attitude underpins recognition of the enemy's humanity. On a more critical note, the author argues that Winnicott doesn't adhere consistently to the ethical attitude he presupposes, that in certain passages he privileges the maturity of combatants over the humanity of the enemy.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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