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Botstein, L. (2007). Freud and Wittgenstein: Language and Human Nature. Psychoanal. Psychol., 24(4):603-622.

(2007). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 24(4):603-622

Freud and Wittgenstein: Language and Human Nature

Leon Botstein

One of the dramatic consequences of Sigmund Freud's work is its seminal role in the search for valid answers about the nature of the human mind and individual personality. His search for a scientific basis for understanding undercut nineteenth-century traditions that placed emphasis on primitive conceptions of race. Central to Freud's work is the theory of language and its function in the mind of the individual and in society. Using the historical contexts surrounding the evolution of Freud's theories from The Interpretation of Dreams to Civilization and Its Discontents, his self-conception as a Jew, and the dynamics of Viennese society and politics, this essay explores the conflicts and correspondences between Freud's theories and the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, his near-contemporary and fellow Viennese, on questions of mind, language, and identity. Freud's legacy will be assessed not in the fields of psychology, neuroscience, or hermeneutics, but explored instead in terms of its importance in politics and ethical and social theory.

Civilization ends, since barbarians erupt from it.

Die Kultur endet, indent die Barbaren aus ihr ausbrechen.

The Unconscious appears, according to the latest research, a sort of Ghetto for thoughts. Many now are homesick.

Das Unterbewusstsein scheint nach den neuesten Forschungen so eine Art Ghetto der Gedanken zu sein. Viele haben jetzt Heimweh.

Humanism, culture and freedom are expensive assets that are never too costly in terms of blood, understanding and human dignity.

Humanitat, Bildung und Freiheit sind kostbare Guter, die mit Blut, Verstand und Menschenwiirde nicht teuer genug erkaufi sind.

Karl Kraus (1912/1986, p. 279; 1919/1986, p. 349; 1909/1986, p.

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