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Freud, Sigmund (1856–1939)

jim hopkins

Subject Philosophy » Epistemology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631192589.1993.x


Austrian founder of psychoanalysis, who worked in Vienna until the Nazi occupation of 1938; he died in London. Psychoanalysis can be linked with the Kantian tradition in epistemology, as indicating how hypotheses about mental representation cast light on general features and limits of knowledge. Freud held that the rationally connected motives of which we are aware (including beliefs and desires) are underlain and shaped by others, apparently formed in infancy, which are pre-rational, only proto-realistic, and concerned with basic bodily processes. These motives cause wish-fulfilments , that is, representations of situations in which they are satisfied; and their operation is traceable in terms of unconscious phantasy (cf. Segal, 1978, ch. 2; and for italicized terms generally, see Laplanche and Pontalis, 1973). For example, some common epistemic phantasies can be illustrated by the following dream. A teacher had been greatly surprised when a devoted pupil – who had made a special effort to be taught by him, and was trying hard to master his ideas – suddenly revealed a desire to suck his penis. That night he dreamt that a lamb had come to suck milk from his finger … It was clear to him that the suckling in his dream represented his teaching, the lamb his pupil who had come to imbibe his ideas, and his milk-giving finger the penis this pupil had wanted to suck. The dream can ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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