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8.9e. Psychoanalysis and Consciousness (Psychoanalysis and Consciousness on PhilPapers)

See also:
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Abstract: The proper range and content of the unconscious in the human sciences should be established by reference to its conceptual relationship to the folk psychology that informs the standard form of explanation therein. A study of this relationship shows that human scientists should appeal to the unconscious only when the language of the conscious fails them, i.e. typically when they find a conflict between people's self-understanding and their actions. This study also shows that human scientists should adopt a broader concept of the unconscious than the one developed by Freud, that is, one free from his ahistorical concept of the instincts and his ahistorical emphasis on the sexual experiences of childhood. The unconscious, understood in this way, has an ambiguous relationship to more recent linguistic and narrativist strands of psychoanalysis
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Abstract: Did Freud present a scientific hypothesis about the unconscious, as he always maintained and as many of his disciples keep repeating? This question has long prompted debates concerning the legitimacy and usefulness of psychoanalysis, and it is of utmost importance to Lacanian analysts, whose main project has been to stress Freud's scientific grounding. Here Jacques Bouveresse, a noted authority on Ludwig Wittgenstein, contributes to the debate by turning to this Austrian-born philosopher and contemporary of Freud for a candid assessment of the early issues surrounding psychoanalysis. Wittgenstein, who himself had delivered a devastating critique of traditional philosophy, sympathetically pondered Freud's claim to have produced a scientific theory in proposing a new model of the human psyche. What Wittgenstein recognized--and what Bouveresse so eloquently stresses for today's reader--is that psychoanalysis does not aim to produce a change limited to the intellect but rather seeks to provoke an authentic change of human attitudes. The beauty behind the theory of the unconscious for Wittgenstein is that it breaks away from scientific, causal explanations to offer new forms of thinking and speaking, or rather, a new mythology. Offering a critical view of all the texts in which Wittgenstein mentions Freud, Bouveresse immerses us in the intellectual climate of Vienna in the early part of the twentieth century. Although we come to see why Wittgenstein did not view psychoanalysis as a science proper, we are nonetheless made to feel the philosopher's sense of wonder and respect for the cultural task Freud took on as he found new ways meaningfully to discuss human concerns. Intertwined in this story of Wittgenstein's grappling with the theory of the unconscious is the story of how he came to question the authority of science and of philosophy itself. While aiming primarily at the clarification of Wittgenstein's opinion of Freud, Bouveresse's book can be read as a challenge to the French psychoanalytic school of Lacan and as a provocative commentary on cultural authority
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Brook, Andrew (1998). Neuroscience versus psychology in Freud. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 843 (1):66-79.   (Cited by 7 | Google | More links)
Abstract: In the 1890's, Freud attempted to lay out the foundations of a complete, interdisciplinary neuroscience of the mind. The conference that gave rise to this collection of papers, Neuroscience of the Mind on the Centennial of Freud's Project for a Scientific Psychology, celebrated the centrepiece of this work, the famous Project (1895a). Freud never published this work and by 1896 or 1897 he had abandoned the research programme behind it. As he announced in the famous Ch. VII of The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), he would thereafter restrict himself to psychology proper, i.e., what could be done within the ambit of psychological descriptions. The task of characterizing the neural implementation of the psychological was impossible to carry out given the state of knowledge in his time. As Pribram and Gill (1976), Kitcher (1992) and others have demonstrated, Freud's attempt to sketch an interdisciplinary model of the mind using the language of neurons, quantities of energy, etc., was extremely advanced for its time and was probably about as good as could have been done with what was known in 1895. Knowledge of the brain, evolutionary biology, etc., was too limited to allow more
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Abstract: To reduce the likelihood that psychology will develop in a deeply flawed manner, the present article seeks to provide an introduction to Freud?s conception of consciousness because, for among other reasons, his general theory is highly influential in our science and culture and among the best understood by clinicians and experimentalists. The theory is complex and all of its major parts have a bearing on one another; indeed, consciousness has a central place in the total conceptual structure ? as is argued, in effect, throughout the present article. The discussion focuses mainly on how conscious psychical processes differ from processes of the psychical apparatus that do not instantiate the Freudian attribute of consciousness. This intrinsic attribute that belongs to every conscious psychical process is seen as including, along with qualitative content, an unmediated, witting awareness of the psychical process that is directed upon itself
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