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Gargiulo, G.J. (1971). A Modern Dialogue with Freud: Freud and Philosophy. Paul Ricoeur. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1970. 573 pp.. Psychoanal. Rev., 58(2):295-301.

(1971). Psychoanalytic Review, 58(2):295-301

Special Book Review

A Modern Dialogue with Freud: Freud and Philosophy. Paul Ricoeur. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1970. 573 pp.

Review by:
Gerald J. Gargiulo

Ricoeur's text is both a provocative philosophical enterprise and a masterful reading of Freud, in which he analyses such questions as the meaning of psyche, the function of symbol and the reality of Eros. Although Ricoeur suggests some conclusions about these questions which must be critically examined, the work evidences a dignity of scholarship not readily seen today. Since it is a text of extraordinary complexity and sensitivity, my analysis will inevitably be somewhat cursory.

The text is divided into three Books respectively entided: I, The Problematic: The Placing of Freud; II, Analytic: Reading of Freud; and III, Dialectic: A Philosophical Interpretation of Freud.

For Ricoeur, the problematic that one must experience in order to place and evaluate the thought of Freud derives from the apparently opposing functions of interpretation, understood in its most generic sense: interpretation as a vehicle for recollection of meaning, i.e. revealer of the sublime or sacred; or interpretation as an exercise of suspicion in the sense of decipherer of the repressed. By way of introductory classification Ricoeur places the religious concept of exegesis in the role of revealer of the sacred while psychoanalysis becomes an exemplar of a reductionistic, secular exegetical approach. The author begins with this level of understanding, although as the text develops it is subject to provocative and deeper readings. In this section Ricoeur then outlines the specificity of symbol as container of double meaning, encompassing overt as well as convert meaning areas, which it is the specific aim of interpretation to decipher.

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