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Hunter, P.B. (1977). Sartre's Existential Humanism and Freud's Existential Naturalism. Psychoanal. Rev., 64(2):289-298.

(1977). Psychoanalytic Review, 64(2):289-298

Sartre's Existential Humanism and Freud's Existential Naturalism

Paul B. Hunter

In the human sciences the primary conflict at the ontological level is commonly and passionately understood to involve a choice of frame of references, one conceptualizing man as “object,” the other as “agent.” Freud is accused of having made man into an object, and existentialism asks us to declare our fundamental commitment to human agency, to a radical theory and practice, which will leave behind the “determinism” of Freudian orthodoxy.

That the choice is presented and maintained in this way indicates the extent to which prejudice and passionate conviction have confounded the requisite clarification of theoretical, methodological—and of course philosophical—issues. The simple mutually exclusive concepts of

agent or object


praxis and process

—while having some theoretical contribution to make insofar as they illuminate the crude reductionism of contemporary variants of positivism—nevertheless lead towards equally absurd reductionisms in the opposite direction.


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