Freud, the Reluctant Philosopher

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Overview

Freud began university intending to study both medicine and philosophy. But he was ambivalent about philosophy, regarding it as metaphysical, too limited to the conscious mind, and ignorant of empirical knowledge. Yet his private correspondence and his writings on culture and history reveal that he never forsook his original philosophical ambitions. Indeed, while Freud remained firmly committed to positivist ideals, his thought was permeated with other aspects of German philosophy. Placed in dialogue with his intellectual contemporaries, Freud appears as a reluctant philosopher who failed to recognize his own metaphysical commitments, thereby crippling the defense of his theory and misrepresenting his true achievement. Recasting Freud as an inspired humanist and reconceiving psychoanalysis as a form of moral inquiry, Alfred Tauber argues that Freudianism still offers a rich approach to self-inquiry, one that reaffirms the enduring task of philosophy and many of the abiding ethical values of Western civilization.

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Editorial Reviews

New Statesman
Tauber's patient exposition of Freud's suppressed philosophical heritage becomes a tour de force when he turns back beyond Schopenhauer to Kant.
— Lesley Chamberlain
Choice
The main focus is Freud as an ethical and social thinker who, while drawing on multiple sources of classical humanism, prepares the way for a new humanism informed by the insights of psychoanalysis. Tauber offers important chapters devoted to the intellectual ferment of 19th-century German philosophy and its influence on Freud.
PsycCRITIQUES
Tauber provides a scholarly exposition, and the book is helpful for appreciating the diverse background influences on Freud's thinking. Furthermore, Tauber also clearly has an exhaustive knowledge of Freud's writing and is well read with respect to contemporary philosophically oriented psychoanalytic writers.
— Simon Boag
Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review
I feel a great deal of sympathy towards Tauber's project, and his analysis is rich, interesting and engaged.
— Johan Eriksson
Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association
[A] tour de force.
— Elisabeth Young-Breuhl
British Journal for the History of Science
This is an attractively written and deeply illuminating study of Freud as moral philosopher. . . . This book goes a long way to explain the positive side of the continued interest and, indeed, to explain why Freud will continue to fascinate, leaving far behind by-now stale debate about whether or not he created a science.
— Roger Smith
New Statesman - Lesley Chamberlain
Tauber's patient exposition of Freud's suppressed philosophical heritage becomes a tour de force when he turns back beyond Schopenhauer to Kant.
PsycCRITIQUES - Simon Boag
Tauber provides a scholarly exposition, and the book is helpful for appreciating the diverse background influences on Freud's thinking. Furthermore, Tauber also clearly has an exhaustive knowledge of Freud's writing and is well read with respect to contemporary philosophically oriented psychoanalytic writers.
Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review - Johan Eriksson
I feel a great deal of sympathy towards Tauber's project, and his analysis is rich, interesting and engaged.
Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association - Elisabeth Young-Breuhl
[A] tour de force.
British Journal for the History of Science - Roger Smith
This is an attractively written and deeply illuminating study of Freud as moral philosopher. . . . This book goes a long way to explain the positive side of the continued interest and, indeed, to explain why Freud will continue to fascinate, leaving far behind by-now stale debate about whether or not he created a science.
From the Publisher
"Tauber's patient exposition of Freud's suppressed philosophical heritage becomes a tour de force when he turns back beyond Schopenhauer to Kant."—Lesley Chamberlain, New Statesman

"The main focus is Freud as an ethical and social thinker who, while drawing on multiple sources of classical humanism, prepares the way for a new humanism informed by the insights of psychoanalysis. Tauber offers important chapters devoted to the intellectual ferment of 19th-century German philosophy and its influence on Freud."Choice

"Tauber provides a scholarly exposition, and the book is helpful for appreciating the diverse background influences on Freud's thinking. Furthermore, Tauber also clearly has an exhaustive knowledge of Freud's writing and is well read with respect to contemporary philosophically oriented psychoanalytic writers."—Simon Boag, PsycCRITIQUES

"I feel a great deal of sympathy towards Tauber's project, and his analysis is rich, interesting and engaged."—Johan Eriksson, Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review

"[A] tour de force."—Elisabeth Young-Breuhl, Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association

"This is an attractively written and deeply illuminating study of Freud as moral philosopher. . . . This book goes a long way to explain the positive side of the continued interest and, indeed, to explain why Freud will continue to fascinate, leaving far behind by-now stale debate about whether or not he created a science."—Roger Smith, British Journal for the History of Science

"Freud, the Reluctant Philosopher is an erudite, thoughtful and challenging book, which amply repays the investment of working through it."—Daphna Erdinast-Vulcan, European Legacy

British Journal for the History of Science
This is an attractively written and deeply illuminating study of Freud as moral philosopher. . . . I found it an extremely clear and penetrating discussion not just of Freud but also of the philosophical arguments to which he was heir and which, implicitly if not always explicitly, played themselves out in his writing. There are long endnotes for readers who want more on the issues or on the existing literature (and the bibliography is extensive); Tauber is an admirably assured guide.
— Roger Smith
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691145525
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/2010
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Alfred I. Tauber is professor of philosophy and the Zoltan Kohn Professor of Medicine at Boston University, where he is also director of the Center for Philosophy and History of Science. His books include "Science and the Quest for Meaning", "Patient Autonomy and the Ethics of Responsibility", and "Henry David Thoreau and the Moral Agency of Knowing".

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Table of Contents

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xix

Introduction: Psychoanalysis as Philosophy 1

Chapter 1 The Challenge (and Stigma) of Philosophy 24

Chapter 2 Distinguishing Reasons and Causes 54

Chapter 3 Storms over Königsberg 85

Chapter 4 The Paradox of Freedom 116

Chapter 5 The Odd Triangle: Kant, Nietzsche, and Freud 146

Chapter 6 Who Is the Subject? 174

Chapter 7 The Ethical Turn 196

Notes 227

References 277

Index 305

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