David Livingstone Smith advocates Freud’s ‘philosophy of mind’, at Aeon Magazine. Philosophical Apprentice comments

The reader can only wonder at the number of thinkers and writers engaged in the rehabilitation of Freud. The journey of Psychoanalysis from ‘Science’ to ‘Metaphysic’, and now to its status as a singular expression of  Freud’s Philosophy of Mind, in a breathtakingly brief essay by David Livingstone Smith -is this the final step in the project of revisionism? Prof. Smith’s rehabilitative efforts are of such a narrow focus on the philosophy of mind of Freud, will it have more staying power than some of the other acts dedicated to the rescue of Psychoanalysis? While denuding it of its scientific pretensions? Here is a link to my December 15, 2015 essay in reply to a review of  Prof. Gretzky’s ‘Political Freud’ that can offer some insights into the Freudian Rehabilitation Project:


Philosophical Apprentice


December 15 2015

Is there no end of the Freud Apologists and their project of historical revisionism, rehabilitation? Although Prof. Zaretsky offers Freud as ‘political’, that breaks new ground in Freudian Rehabilitation. But the Project remains the same. The chorus of respectable bourgeois apologists has grown since the reviews for Adam Phillips’ ‘Becoming Freud: The Making of a Psychoanalyst’. The ‘science’ of psychoanalysis, that once morphed into a metaphysic has once again been adapted to the needs of a political pragmatism, as the in order too of rescue from political/intellectual/moral irrelevance. Describe the journey from science to metaphysic to politics as a kind of map of the desperate acolytes.  A sample of the reviews of the Phillips’ book:



Mr. William Geraldi’s review titled ‘Sigmund Freud, the Never-Ending Storyteller’ certainly takes first place in this collection of reviews of Mr. Phillips Freudian Revisionism: this review makes these astounding pronouncements on ‘psychoanalysis’ and the ‘ Freudian unconscious in particular’ was ‘​was from the beginning a Jewish literary enterprise.’ Given this what can any reader make of the original Freudian claim of psychoanalysis as a ‘science’ and as Freud’s status as ‘physician’ ?


Some quotation seems in order:

‘Phillips writes that “the modern individual Sigmund Freud would eventually describe was a person under continuous threat with little knowledge of what was really happening to him”—​a Jew, in other words, as Freud himself admitted in The Resistances to Psychoanalysis. The paradoxes at the hub of Freud—​the heaving dichotomies of life/death, sex/death, past/present, present/future, sickness/health—​are human paradoxes, to be sure, but they are human paradoxes expertly manifest in Hebraic mythos. Phillips contends that “Freud’s work shows us … that nothing in our lives is self-​evident, that not even the facts of our lives speak for themselves.” Consider how that assertion applies both to the Torah and to the indispensible modern Jewish writers, from Bruno Schulz and Franz Kafka to Primo Levi and Isaac Bashevis Singer, and you’ll begin to see how psychoanalysis in general and the Freudian unconscious in particular—​that dark swamp of our minds—​was from the beginning a Jewish literary enterprise.’

There is more:

‘In reference to every Freudian’s loving or bitter impulse to tackle the august founder, Bloom speaks of “the burden of the writing psychoanalyst, who is tempted to a battle he is doomed to lose,” meaning that Freud can be an oily, protean subject, whether approached from the logical, biographical, or pedagogical angle. The one angle not doomed to failure is the one that Peter Brooks takes in Psychoanalysis and Storytelling and that Adam Phillips emphasizes here (with no mention of Brooks): Freud the storyteller. Brooks calls psychoanalysis “not only narrative and linguistic but also oral, a praxis of narrative construction within a context of live storytelling.” Say what you will about the psycholinguistics of Jacques Lacan, but Freud and his theory have always been about language, the language of the self telling stories, “this new language for the heart and soul and conscience of modern people,” as Phillips phrases it.’

For the surprising literary antecedent to Freud’s ‘psychoanalytic project’, Cervantes’ Quixote,  see ‘Freud’s Paranoid Quest,Psychoanalysis and Modern Suspicion by John C. Farrell, Chapter 6 ‘Freud as Quixote’:


And see this unsurprisingly hostile review of Mr. Farrel’s book in the New York Times by Sarah Boxer titled ‘Flogging Freud’:


Some of the Evaluations of Freud and Psychoanalysis:

Freud, Biologist of the Mind by Frank Sulloway

Freud Evaluated, The Completed Arc by Malcolm Macmillan https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/freud-evaluated

The Memory Wars, Freud’s Legacy in Dispute by Frederick Crews https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Memory_Wars

Follies of the Wise, Dissenting Essays by Frederick Crews https://books.google.com/books/about/Follies_of_the_Wise.html?id=SKQGIZHuhW8C

Unauthorized Freud: Doubters Confront a Legend by Frederick Crews http://www.amazon.com/Unauthorized-Freud-Doubters-Confront-Legend/dp/0670872210

Freudian Fallacy: An Alternative View of Freudian Theory by E.M. Thornton


The Psychoanalytic Movement: The Cunning of Unreason,3rd Edition by Ernest Gellner, Forward by Jose Brunner


Anti-Freud: Karl Kraus’s Criticism of Psychoanalysis and Psychiatry by Thomas Szasz


Philosophical  Apprentice


About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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