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Balsam, R.H. (1991). Thinking Fragments: Psychoanalysis, Feminism, and Postmodernism in the Contemporary West. By Jane Flax. Berkeley: University of California Press. 1990. Pp. 286.. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 18:128-130.

(1991). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 18:128-130

Thinking Fragments: Psychoanalysis, Feminism, and Postmodernism in the Contemporary West. By Jane Flax. Berkeley: University of California Press. 1990. Pp. 286.

Review by:
Rosemary H. Balsam

This book is of interest to psychoanalysts who enjoy thinking about thinking about the work. It touches upon where we stand at the moment in the evolution of Western ideas. Psychoanalytic thought is examined in conjunction with feminism and post-modernist trends in philosophy in order to evaluate how they may contribute to or limit our explorations of some key dilemmas of contemporary Western culture. The topics under scrutiny are the great post-modern preoccupations: self, subjectivity, gender, knowledge, power, and justice.

Ms. Flax brings each strand together in the form of 'conversations'. The whole text is a post-modern method of exploration, which commits itself to avoid 'privileging' any of the disciplines involved in the discourse. No voice is in the ascendance or dominates. Each speaks to the other. Each theory is found both to illuminate and to have flaws and erasures. Each questions and examines the other in order to sharpen awareness of a dilemma, undermine a truth claim, or search the underpinnings for any suggestion of unitary form, apparent stability, or premature closure—all of which are anathema to post-modernist thought. Flax points out that the post-modern era is a transitional state, arising as it does out of disillusionment with Enlightenment ideals. Deathly blows have been dealt to the certainties of the supremacy of science and knowledge, which were supposed to have become the handmaidens of human emancipation. After the World Wars, the Holocaust, Hiroshima, and the contemplated future nuclear winter, all thought is torn from any pretext of stanchions of reliability.

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