Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

To contact me about organizing, email me at rpwolff750@gmail.com




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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

SONG OF MYSELF

I go to bed early, so I was pleased to learn that the big Obama-Romney debate would begin at seven this evening.  But it turns out that it actually begins at nine, which is -- believe it or not -- past my usual bedtime.  Having nothing better to do, and having just been asked by a commentor about my opinion of Freud, I decided to re-read the tutorial I wrote some while ago on The Thought of Sigmund Freud, a tutorial that ran to many parts, and was then deposited for posterity on box.net [accessible by following the link that the top of this blog.]  I have been re-reading it, and I say, with my characteristic modesty, that I think it is simply brilliant.  If you are seriously interested in spending several hours learning about Freud's theories, you really cannot do better, in my opinion, than read that Tutorial.

There, I said it.  I am now in full Mr Toad mode.  But if I don't say it, who on earth will?

2 comments:

Seth said...

Thanks for obliging my request for comment on Freud. If I think of other such questions, I think I'll start by examining the Box.net archive :)

Your exposition of psycho-analysis was clear and easy to follow, and not only because I am already familiar with most of Freud's major work through reading I did in past decades. Your conclusions I largely agree with.

One reason I thought it might be worthwhile asking you about Freud, was that I see a vague parallel between the ways Freud and Marx challenged conventional wisdom and were met by a sort of 'repression' (in Freud's sense, not only the Marxian one) process in the 'social mind' -- willful obtuseness about ideas with threatening implications. I wonder if you have spent any time reflecting on the larger pattern exhibited in the *reaction* to these two thinkers.

And a couple stray thoughts of my own:
1. I once thought I had come upon a major revision to Freud's doctrine in his History of the Psycho-analytic movement -- a short quote in which he said the whole edifice was based on finding an explanation of the twin phenomena of resistance and transference. Years later I reread the passage and realized the focus on resistance and transference was there, but the sort of 'recantation' of the sexual etiology of the neuroses was really just something I had read *into* it. Nevertheless, I think a better understanding of Freud's contribution can be arrived at by examining those two mechanisms *before* getting into the "sex thing" -- precisely because the source of the resistance is so-to-speak circumvented. I find it interesting that this was the sequence of your exposition.

2. In reading Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking Fast and Slow" recently, I was suddenly struck by the thought that Kahneman's System 1 is rather similar to Freud's "Id", and System 2 resembles the "Super-ego". Not that the analogy is remotely exact. Just that Kahneman is describing a pair of somewhat discordant 'voices' or 'strains' in the functioning of our minds: one reflexive, irrational, and largely innate, the other more careful, reasoned and shaped by life-experiences. The contrast between Kahneman and Freud as writers also reminds me a bit of the contrast between Ango-American 'analytical' philosophers and their Continental counter-parts. It might take the analytical writer 100 pages of tedious prose to say what a Parisian wit would express with a single pun. (But only other Parisian wits of the right sort could be relied upon to 'get' the pun, or at least pretend credibly that they did.) I'm tempted to think Kahneman is part of a scientific exploration of the same territory Freud was trying to study without the right tools. And because Kahneman is trying to operate entirely within the bounds of respectable academic discourse, he won't be drawn into the sort of speculative theorizing which Freud found unavoidable (but which I can't help thinking would be more *entertaining* to read).

Pascal's apology applies here, though more to my lack of clarity than to lack of brevity: I know I could express myself better, but that would require more time and effort than I can spare :)

Thanks again.

Don Schneier said...

If you had stayed up, you might have caught the horror flick, 'The Gore 2000 vs. The Rabid Romney Zombie' that seemed to be on every channel, even though its intended audience may have been just one guy--named John Roberts. Horrid enough to be nightmare-provoking.