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Schilder, P. (1935). Psychoanalysis and Philosophy. Psychoanal. Rev., 22(3):274-287.

(1935). Psychoanalytic Review, 22(3):274-287

Psychoanalysis and Philosophy

Paul Schilder, M.D., Ph.D.

Psychoanalysis started in the era in which physics, chemistry, biology, and bacteriology had their great first triumphs. Freud himself says that he was already born when Charles Darwin gave his work on the origin of the species to the public. In the same year, 1859, Pierre Curie, the discoverer of radium, was born. Mechanical interpretation of the world and of psychic life seemed not only to be possible but almost perfected. The universe was without any meaning and in the psychic life association seemed to explain everything. Association was considered as a mechanical sequence. Mole-schott, Buechner and Karl Vogt were the extreme exponents of this attitude. Ludwig Buchner's “Kraft und Stoff” (Energy and Matter) appeared in 1855 in the first edition, 1888 in the fifteenth edition.

It is the era of materialism. It does not matter so much whether the single scientific worker really believed in the materialistic dogma but it was the guiding idea, the working principle, in the physiological laboratories as well as in the physical and chemical ones. Materialistic science seemed to be not only fit to solve the material problems of mankind but also the spiritual and ethical ones. It can't be denied that this was a period of scientific fertility. Freud, who had the fundamental physiological training in Bruecke's laboratory, is a child of this period, as well as Breuer, in collaboration with whom the foundations for psychoanalysis were laid. It is one of the most interesting paradoxes that Freud, who started with the determined attempt to find out the mechanics of psychic life, has discovered that the psychic life is full of meaning.

He has found this meaning not only in the purposeful actions of everyday life, in will and determination, but also in psychic experiences which science and the educated popular belief had so far considered as meaningless; in the dreams, in the delusions, in the hallucinations, and in the pathology of everyday life, as slips of the tongue.

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