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Apprey, M. (2001). Open Minded: Working Out the Logic of the Soul: Jonathan Lear, Ph.D. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 1998. 346 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 70(4):891-901.

(2001). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 70(4):891-901

Open Minded: Working Out the Logic of the Soul: Jonathan Lear, Ph.D. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 1998. 346 pp.

Review by:
Maurice Apprey

Jonathan Lear, an analytic philosopher and a psychoanalyst, has a bold ambition: he invites analysts to be “open minded,” as the title of his masterful work suggests; and in the subtitle of the book, we see him trying to come to grips with “working out the logic of the soul.” In this reviewer's opinion, he succeeds admirably in giving us his account of this endeavor. Whether or not he will succeed in furthering open mindedness in psychoanalysts or in analytic philosophers remains an open question. First let us go to the structure and content of Lear's Open Minded to fire the reader's imagination.

In his “Preface: The King and I,” what does Lear say he wants to accomplish in Open Minded? I set out to work my way through the history of philosophy. I did this by teaching undergraduate courses on thinkers I barely knew talking endlessly to colleagues, and by reading voraciously (p. 7). He wanted to know, “in the world of ideas, where are we?” (p. 7, italics in original). Much to his disappointment, psychology had gone missing in the world of ideas. Sharing this view with Hegel and paraphrasing him, Lear writes that the account of human beings in the Western philosophical tradition had become too abstract, too formal, to yield anything substantive about who we are. If we want to learn anything about the human condition philosophy has to become more concrete (p. 7). Here there is a problem for Lear and Hegel: How can philosophy become more concrete without collapsing into an empirical discipline like anthropology and empirical psychology? Can philosophy become concrete without itself disappearing? And if all that is left is, say, empirical psychology, has psychology itself survived? (p. 8).

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