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Human Experience

Philosophy, Neurosis, and the Elements of Everyday Life

John Russon

Publication Year: 2003

John Russon’s Human Experience draws on central concepts of contemporary European philosophy to develop a novel analysis of the human psyche. Beginning with a study of the nature of perception, embodiment, and memory, Russon investigates the formation of personality through family and social experience. He focuses on the importance of the feedback we receive from others regarding our fundamental worth as persons, and on the way this interpersonal process embeds meaning into our most basic bodily practices: eating, sleeping, sex, and so on. Russon concludes with an original interpretation of neurosis as the habits of bodily practice developed in family interactions that have become the foundation for developed interpersonal life, and proposes a theory of psychological therapy as the development of philosophical insight that responds to these neurotic compulsions.

Published by: State University of New York Press


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Title page

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p. iii


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p. vii

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p. viii

This book draws on three main sources: growing up with a psychiatrist-father, a professional life devoted to the study of phenomenology, and many years’ practice in private counseling. Whatever learning I have managed in this time has come through the help of many others, some of the most prominent of whom I would like to thank here. In no particular...

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pp. 1-6

Contemporary European Philosophy has revolutionized the way in which we think about ourselves. Over the last two hundred years, such thinkers as Martin Heidegger, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, and Jean-Paul Sartre have challenged all of our most cherished and traditional views about what a person is and about what the world is. They have introduced...

Part I: The Form of Human Experience

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1. Interpretation

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pp. 9-20

What could be more obvious than that there is a world outside us andthat we must make choices about how to deal with it? When we thinkabout our place in the world, this is almost always what we imagine. Is itso obvious though? Is this the proper way to describe our situation? WeWhen we reflect on ourselves, we typically start by recognizing our-...

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2. Embodiment

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pp. 21-34

People can hurt us. A woman alone at night can be grabbed by a man on the street; she can be beaten and raped and left paralyzed or pregnant or syphilitic. A police officer can use the threat of hurting that is implied by his gun and uniform to get an innocent and intimidated black man to bow and grovel. A boy can be sodomized by his father every day...

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3. Memory

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pp. 35-48

At any moment, I find myself located. I find myself located in a specific situation that has a thickness to its identity that runs off in many directions, reaching a kind of indeterminateness beyond those points to which I pay direct attention. As I sit typing, I can...

Part II: The Substance of Human Experience

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4. Others

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pp. 51-74

In part I, we considered ourselves as projective (future), embodied (present), and remembering (past). This remained a formal study, though: we know that these structures are true of all human experience, but we have not yet recognized the core of human experience—what it is that marks it as human. We know that we are always involved...

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5. Neurosis

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pp. 75-122

We have so far studied the nature of the human project and the form in which it carries itself out as an embodied agency. In part, this study has been an answer to the question, “How did we get here?” where “here”names the typical prejudices of familiar life with which we began our study.Our study has taken us to the point of recognizing why the embodied...

Part III: The Process of Human Experience

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6. Philosophy

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pp. 125-148

We cannot escape our determinacy. As self-transcending, as open, it is indeed this determinacy that is our entry into all value. Nonetheless, this determinacy is also our limit in that it imparts its form to the whole realm in which we are in contact with reality. Our embodiment is a wonder and a tragedy. The wonder of our...


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p. 149


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pp. 157-162

E-ISBN-13: 9780791486757
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791457535
Print-ISBN-10: 0791457532

Page Count: 162
Publication Year: 2003

OCLC Number: 56406340
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Human Experience

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Phenomenological psychology.
  • Neuroses.
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