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Apprehending the Inaccessible

Freudian Psychoanalysis and Existential Phenomenology

Askay, Richard, and Jensen Farquhar

Publication Year: 2005

Throughout history philosophers have relentlessly pursued what may be called "inaccessible domains." This book explores how the traditions of existential phenomenology relate to Freudian psychoanalysis. A clear, succinct, and systematic account of the philosophical presuppositions of psychoanalytic theory and practice, this work offers a deeper and richer understanding and appreciation of Freudian thought, as well as its antecedents and influences.

Published by: Northwestern University Press

Series: Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy


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pp. ix

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pp. xi-xvi

This book explores several major ways of approaching the theme of apprehending the inaccessible—the hidden dimensions of human experience— within the Western tradition. While doing this, we will take as our focal point the historical and philosophical engagement of Freudian psychoanalysis with Husserlian phenomenology and the various primary...

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pp. xvii-xviii

We are grateful to the University of Portland for funding a sabbatical during which we were able to assemble the formative elements of this text and a research trip to Europe where, among other opportunities, we worked at the Husserl Archive in Louvain, Belgium, and met with Dr...

List of Abbreviations

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pp. xix

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pp. 3-9

Throughout the history of Western civilization, philosophers have relentlessly pursued what may be called “inaccessible domains.” Many have suggested that such realms are rarely if ever open to direct (or even indirect) experience, and yet have also claimed that they form the very basis for all beings or Being. Such domains are taken by many to be...

Part 1.

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pp. 11

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1 The Atavistic Spirit or “the Monster of Energy”

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pp. 13-26

As Nietzsche so eloquently noted, the generation and evolution of ideas and even entire systems of thought rarely occur in a historical vacuum. More typically they incubate within the multifarious forces of abundant dynamic, historical environments, when at last they burst forth in a sudden...

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2 Freud as “Meta-physician”

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pp. 27-39

Despite Freud’s early aspirations toward philosophy, Freud sought his advanced training within the domain of science. Trained as a doctor, Freud encountered numerous maladies which appeared to be physiological in origin. Upon closer inspection Freud, among others, came to realize...

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3 The Ego as Master in Its Own House

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pp. 40-53

As a physician in search of a cure for neurosis, Freud took himself to be first and foremost a scientist. Freud believed and openly stated that science gave us greater access to knowledge of reality. For this reason, he ostensibly felt no need (nor even the ability) for psychoanalysis to attempt...

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4 Unity and Separation

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pp. 54-71

As we have seen, significant sources of Freud’s scientific heritage come from the Enlightenment. However, if we dig deeper into what Freud himself understood to be his philosophical heritage, there is no doubt that he was influenced by early Greek philosophy. Indeed, when asked to name...

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5 Freud’s Romanticistic Overtures

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pp. 72-88

At a pivotal point in his young life, Freud was faced with the decision of what career he should follow. Having shown much promise throughout his early education, his father had developed confidence in him and insisted that he should follow his own inclinations. Surprisingly, Freud had little...

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6 A Case Study of Freud’s Philosophical Repression

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pp. 89-102

To be sure, Freud had his problems with the philosophers of his own time. The reason was clear: philosophers either conceived of the unconscious as “something mystical,” or rejected the unconscious outright based on their prejudiced view which equated mental functioning with consciousness...

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7 The Masters of Suspicion

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pp. 103-124

As a foremost “master of suspicion,” Schopenhauer was one of the primary participants in the “unmasking” trend of the nineteenth century. He strove to uncover the very nature of even hidden dimensions of human...

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8 Of Philosophers and Madmen

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pp. 125-152

For both Schopenhauer and Freud the will/id—as the true core of our being, thing-in-itself, and precondition for all that happens—is unconscious. Nietzsche rejected Schopenhauer’s will, and the thing-in-itself; interestingly, he did not reject the concept of the unconscious. Indeed...

Part 2.

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pp. 153

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9 A Propaedeutic to Freud and the Existential Phenomenologists

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pp. 155-164

As we approach the historical engagement of Freud with the existential phenomenologists it is crucial that we first consider the historical context and role of one major philosophical contemporary of Freud, and the primary inspirational father of the existential phenomenologists, Edmund

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10 An Intelligible yet Enigmatic Mutual Silence

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pp. 165-189

Sigmund Freud lived from 1856 to 1939, and Edmund Husserl from 1859 to 1938. They spoke and worked in the same language, lived in relative proximity to one another,1 shared common religious roots, and had mutual associates2 and students (for example, Binswanger). Most important...

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11 Being versus Id

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pp. 190-210

We have just witnessed the failure of Freud and Husserl—contemporary intellectual giants in related fields of investigation—to notice or recognize each other’s work. We now approach a similar situation in the case of Freud and Martin Heidegger.1 Although Heidegger was thirty years

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12 The Unspoken Dialogue

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pp. 211-229

As seen in the previous chapter, Heidegger was severely critical of Freudian psychoanalysis and its tacit ontology. Heidegger was convinced that Freud’s uncritical adoption of the scientific Weltanschauung of his time...

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13 (“Lack” of) Fathers and Sons

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pp. 230-241

Sartre is a spectacular example of a philosopher who employed the notions of “apprehending” and the “inaccessible” in a dialectical tension throughout his philosophical career. He both spoke of nothing as hidden in human experience—as our having access to everything—and yet asserted...

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14 “The Science That Never Was”

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pp. 242-268

Sartre’s criticisms of Freudian metapsychology were extensive and complex, reflecting at times his deep-seated ambivalence. Even very early on, Sartre seemed genuinely to appreciate psychoanalysis’s serious acknowledgment...

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15 The Master of Self-Deception

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pp. 269-288

Despite Sartre’s ambivalence toward Freudian psychoanalysis, his position regarding the unconscious remained relatively consistent throughout his career.1 Simone de Beauvoir recalled that it was as early as 1932 that Sartre held a theory which was specifically designed to render the notion of the

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16 The Poetic Weight of the Body

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pp. 289-312

Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s reaction to Freudian psychoanalysis was quite different than the existential phenomenologists discussed in previous chapters. In general, he was far more receptive to Freudian theoretical insights, even though he sought to reposture them in what he believed was the philosophically more viable context of an existential phenomenological...

Part 3.

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pp. 313

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17 Freud’s Philosophically Split Personality

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pp. 315-336

As we have seen from the previous chapters on the existential phenomenologists, each individual thinker had much to say in response to Freud’s metapsychology. We are now in a position to crystallize those critiques of Freudian psychoanalysis and to identify the general, fundamental, philosophical...

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18 Unification of Freudian Psychoanalysis through an Archaeological Methodology

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pp. 337-366

Freud assumed the role of Zarathustra upon the summit of the glacier of human consciousness, shining his lantern into the dark and hidden recesses of the unconscious mind, and was not always welcomed as bearing the light of truth. Neither the scientists of his day nor the philosophers...


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pp. 367-444


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pp. 445-456

E-ISBN-13: 9780810161818
Print-ISBN-13: 9780810119000

Page Count: 480
Publication Year: 2005

Edition: 1
Series Title: Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy