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Chessick, R.D. (1988). Prolegomena to the study of paul Ricoeur'S Freud and Philosophy. Psychoanal. Rev., 75(2):299-318.

(1988). Psychoanalytic Review, 75(2):299-318

Prolegomena to the study of paul Ricoeur'S Freud and Philosophy

Richard D. Chessick, M.D., Ph.D.

The basic work of Paul Ricoeur is a search for methods for establishing Christian moral values (Kurzweil, 1980). For him, the unity and dignity of the human person is fundamental, and truth is intersub-jective, that is to say, it arises between man and man in communication. It resides in language. One of his most famous books is called The Symbolism of Evil, essentially a theological work that attempts to search for first truths embodied in the symbols of salvation and creation by studying the symbols of evil. This hermeneutic interest in symbols is probably what led him to study Freud on symbols, to emphasize their importance in Freud's (1900) The Interpretation of Dreams, and then to examine the entire published work of Freud.

Ricoeur's own philosophy, which he refers to as “reflective,” attempts to use what he considers to be a version of Hegelian dialectic. He tries to study all sides of a philosophical or psychological debate and, by examining each view back and forth repeatedly, arrive at deeper and higher levels of understanding. He assumes a tremendous knowledge of other philosophers on the reader's part, and he tends to pick little phrases of numerous philosophers out of context and assume the reader's understanding and recognition, which is one of the reasons his works are so very difficult to read.

Ricoeur's (1970) Freud and Philosophy is one of the best philosophical works on Freud. It also offers a thorough and scholarly overview of Freud's complete writings.

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