Lear states that his purpose in this book is to give a philosophical introduction to Freud s thought I anticipated that this would involve analyzing Freud s implicit metaphysical assumptions, or connecting his ideas to issues in philosophy of mind, etc Lear does none of that This rather feels like a summary of Freud s key ideas there is no philosophical explication of their broader significance, or philosophical argument for their legitimacy Some of my dissatisfaction comes from this viol Lear states that his purpose in this book is to give a philosophical introduction to Freud s thought I anticipated that this would involve analyzing Freud s implicit metaphysical assumptions, or connecting his ideas to issues in philosophy of mind, etc Lear does none of that This rather feels like a summary of Freud s key ideas there is no philosophical explication of their broader significance, or philosophical argument for their legitimacy Some of my dissatisfaction comes from this violation of expectations The rest of my dissatisfaction stems from my attitudes toward Freud s ideas themselves I ve been suspicious of Freud s work, and was hoping that reading Lear s understanding of Freud Lear, as a philosopher whose work I admire would change my mind It did not Reading this book affirms my sense that Freudian psychoanalytic theory is very much like a religion It provides a seemingly comprehensive framework to understand our human nature and to explain our experiences But its principles are reductive and ungrounded, as much as the principles in any given religion are The hype over and acceptance of psychoanalytic theory is perhaps due to the same factors that contribute to the acceptance of religions Their explanations offer guidance and meaning to the most confusing and painful areas of experience Moreover, I think Freud s ideas can flourish only in the individualistic, narcissistic, capitalist culture of our day It would baffle people from communalist cultures how one could think it is a good idea to talk and think about ourselves without thinking about the broader world, history, and our communities for hours on end Criticisms of self help culture are pretty much applicable to Freudian psychoanalysis, from the understanding of psychoanalysis that Lear s book has left to me Let me give some examples and summarize some parts of this book Freud believes that there is an unconscious that has dispositions, very much like our conscious dispositions The difference is that the unconscious s dispositions are not targeted at specific individuals or events they aregeneral emotional impulses In contrast, our dispositions and attitudes are directed at particulars Moreover, the unconscious is fundamentally sexual If this view on the structure of the mind is appealing, I think it is because it captures the fact that we can have mental states that do not have particular propositional or conceptual content But one does not need to posit a second agential force inside ourselves, distinct from our own, let alone a force that is sexual in nature to account for this fact We can just posit that there is a range of kinds of dispositions and experiences we are capable of some are conceptual, and others are not I think auseful framework for understanding this fact is that there are conceptual and non conceptual elements of most mental states We can examine mental states in terms of these two kinds of aspects there is no need to posit a second agent or personality is the source of all the non conceptual elements Freud, over, believed that the act of interpreting our dreams gives us insight into the unconscious This seems like a load of nonsense If the ways we interpret something shed light on the non conceptual, emotional drives that back up and color our experience, evaluating our interpretations of anything, not just dreams, should do the trick with letting us understand our emotions Freud does not provide any convincing argument for his claim that the contents of dreams are all hyper significant, reflecting our desires and fears The competing thesis is that the contents of dreams are quite random, or re hashing of imagery and experiences from our lives the support for this is that songs and images can get stuck in our heads for reasons totally unrelated to our desires and fears e.g., the song is simply catchy Freud s approach to dream analysis is tantamount to the affirmation of forming conspiracy theories about anything we wish, without requiring actual facts or evidence to support such theories Freud also proposes the reality principle, the pleasure principle, and the death drive He thinks that our experience is ontogenetically originally driven by the pleasure principle we seek out pleasure, and understand reality in such a way as to promote the attainment of pleasures e.g., an infant hallucinates the mother s breast, because this gives pleasure, and the infant believes that the breast actually exists in doing this It is a cognitive achievement to let the reality principle structure our experience the reality principle simply refers to our sensitivities to how the world actually works, independently of our needs and pleasures Why do we need this elaborate positing of fundamental psychic principles It is commonsense that we seek out pleasure, and this disposition influences the beliefs we form and the ways we go about the world There are many different, fine grained psychological explanations that could be offered to examine this in detail The explanation of these two principles is both reductive, and doesn t actually offer much explanatory power it doesn t help us understand the psychological mechanisms that are going on, whose manipulation could help us intervene on our experience The most insightful point of psychoanalysis, which Lear keeps up as a theme running throughout the chapters, is about the nature of psychological healing Healing does not happen when we form the correct beliefs, or make discoveries that explain out pasts Rather, healing happens when we are engaged in our pathological behaviors live time, have this behavior disrupted e.g., by reflecting and self awareness by a psychoanalyst , and then change our route activity and complete the behavior in such a way as to give it a new form But this point is not unique to psychoanalysis Behaviorist approaches in psychology focus and expand on this point Moreover, William James, who preceded Freud by half a century, makes this point in his analyses on the nature of habit.I might not be doing Freud justice for how innovative and important his ideas are Maybe I can be critical of him because the conceptual resources to which I have access are already influenced and enhanced by Freud s discoveries about the existence of the unconscious But at Freud s time, his points were momentous, and before him no one thought about psychological dynamics between the unconscious and conscious But that simply isn t true Philosophers for a very long time have talked about the force of emotion and impulse, and the disconnect between those and reason Moreover, philosophers have known about unconscious processes and mechanisms, and posited how they structure our conscious experience Hume, Kant I set out hoping to have my mind changed about Freud, to see his importance But with all the charity I can muster, I think his insightful correct points have already been made by other thinkers preceding him, and his misleading incorrect points are nicely disguised and are believed in religiously by too many I m writing this all out because writing reviews helps me remember my reading experience but also because I think Freudian ideas are positively destructive and unhelpful, and I wish for people to becritical towards him The ideas are destructive in that the explanatory entities that are posited to account for our experiences are all located inside one s psyche When Freud understands that the individual s relationships to others shape one s development, he acknowledges these relationships only as, or in the form of, an internal, psychological structure the individual possesses, a structure that she imposes on the world There is no mention of politics, culture, or history, and how these fundamentally shape the possibilities of relationships and experiences Nonetheless, this book is written quite clearly, and is well organized I d recommend it for readers who want an introduction to Freud s central ideas But do not expect a philosophical take or analysis of these ideas and take caution in one s evaluation of them Lear does not provide any resources to help us evaluate Freud he states that he largely agrees with psychoanalytic theory So his writing can make it difficult to critically evaluate Freud, or at least does not aid in providing a critical lens Jonathan Lear clearly introduces and assesses all of Freud s thought, focusing on those areas of philosophy on which Freud is acknowledged to have had a lasting impact These include the philosophy of mind, free will and determinism, rationality, the nature of the self and subjectivity, and ethics and religion He also considers some of the deeper issues and problems Freud engaged with, brilliantly illustrating their philosophical significance human sexuality, the unconscious, dreams, and the theory of transferenceFreud is one of the most important introductions and contributions to understanding this great thinker to have been published for many years, and will be essential reading for anyone in the humanities, social sciences and beyond with an interest in Freud or philosophy This is a philosophical introduction to Freud s views It s interesting in many ways and Lear is not afraid to critique Freud, but at times the work turnsinto an exposition of Lear than a popular philosophical introduction should be Also, at times he is not harsh enough with Freud Freud had almost no philosophical background and like all people who start doing philosophy with no real background in it, he makes dreadful first year undergraduate type mistakes Lear is to patient with this This is a philosophical introduction to Freud s views It s interesting in many ways and Lear is not afraid to critique Freud, but at times the work turnsinto an exposition of Lear than a popular philosophical introduction should be Also, at times he is not harsh enough with Freud Freud had almost no philosophical background and like all people who start doing philosophy with no real background in it, he makes dreadful first year undergraduate type mistakes Lear is to patient with this and its clear that Freud s views on religion and morality are so simple minded as to be virtually worthless from a philosophical perspective.Where Freud is at his most interesting from a philosophical perspective is where he is developing psychological views based on psychology that are philosophically relevant The wall between psychology and philosophy is barely there if at all and this is where a philosopical introduction is most useful Fortunately, that covers most of the book.An additional criticism that I have is that if we take a long clear hard headed look at Freud, then we have to conclude that he was both a genius and a fucked up dude Further, he was muchcaptured by the morays of his time than he ever expected Lear is bad at understanding this which is essential to understanding Freud To take the most obvious example of this, Lear discusses at length the case example of Dora primarily in the chapter on Transference Like Freud, he misses the fact that Dora is essentially being pimped out by her father in order to bang another man s wife Lear engages in subtle victim blaming here as does Freud Dora seems the only wholly reasonable one here to me.Lear is both a psychoanalyst and a philosopher and this is the strength and weakness of the book He is stilll locked in some of the myths of psychotherapy, such as the therapist can be a neutral objective partner in the therapeutic relationship IN my opinion, if we think philosophically we see that things arecomplicated than that Also he is clearly a Freudian psychotherapist and his closeness to Freud often blinds him to both the real flaws of Freud and his real achievements BOth of which are numerous On the other hand, he reflexively locates Freud where he should be located as a practitioner first and a theorizer second.Still having said this the book is very good and rich in ideas My three star rating is harsh and its almost a four star, but I rate harshly and I would only give at most three or four secondary sources in philosophy a five star rating, its the primary sources that get that kind of thing Lucid and accessible philosophical introduction to Freud that is critical yet sympathetic my favorite kind of introductions Argues, contra Donald Davidson, that the unconscious ought not to be thought of as a second mind I am rather new to Freud but I found Lear s argument rather compelling, I do think the mind ought to be thought of holistically that may be divided preconscious, unconscious, subconscious, conscious but it is still one I guess a kind of cognitive monism I don t Lucid and accessible philosophical introduction to Freud that is critical yet sympathetic my favorite kind of introductions Argues, contra Donald Davidson, that the unconscious ought not to be thought of as a second mind I am rather new to Freud but I found Lear s argument rather compelling, I do think the mind ought to be thought of holistically that may be divided preconscious, unconscious, subconscious, conscious but it is still one I guess a kind of cognitive monism I don t know His chapter on dream analysis was very compelling but I felt he could have articulated condensation and displacement a bit better I needed outside reading material to better comprehend it the fault in lack of understanding could be my own but either way it fairly radically shifted the way I look at dreams The concept of transference seems tricky he even admits it is not very well understood in psychoanalysis itself but I thought Lear did a good job articulating this concept at an introductory level though it was still quite complicated and I m not sure I quite get the full gist of it The pleasure reality principle stuff is neat and Lear s critique of the death drive was interesting, but I didn t quite understand it to be honest haha Lear s articulating of the id ego superego and its genealogical formation and the Oedipus complex were really good, I was enthralled with it gave me a lot to think about I think Freud s theory of morality and religion are quite interesting and like most of his theories fairly weird but I do think Lear pretty much demolished it with his critique Lear admits its the weakest part of Freud s theory and from what I know I tend to agree, though it is still an interesting thing to read aboutFreud essentially constructs his own myth to explain mythologies Overall, very good introduction to Freud and I feel like it is accessible to most people, the chapter on Transference was by far the hardest one to grasp, but this is a perfect introduction for someone with a little bit of experience of reading academic texts like, say, a freshman undergrad Maybe not the absolute best baby s first Freud book but I can t imagine one being better while also still being as academically rigorous yet compelling This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here lear is an absolute joy to read nice guy irl too Great introduction to Freud s basic ideas. An extremely gripping and philosophically compelling exposition of Freud s major psychoanalytic theories. A very brief but core introduction to idea set of freud, and its place in western philosophy 2019 Review I read this again twice recently without realising that I had previously read and reviewed it six years ago Quite a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then and my views on the book are a bit different I still think it is a readable and interesting introduction to Freud and I like the fact that Lear is ready to disagree with Freud and the fact that he has his own perspective does make the book interesting But, despite his evident self confidence, his thinking str 2019 Review I read this again twice recently without realising that I had previously read and reviewed it six years ago Quite a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then and my views on the book are a bit different I still think it is a readable and interesting introduction to Freud and I like the fact that Lear is ready to disagree with Freud and the fact that he has his own perspective does make the book interesting But, despite his evident self confidence, his thinking strikes me as rather superficial, lacking in either philosophical or psychoanalytic rigour He seems to have a rationalistic view of consciousness despite the fact that he is writing a book on Freud and then because he is so rationalistic he gets very caught up with the idea that the mind disrupts itself He has a strange Davidson influenced approach to understanding human agency but for all his preoccupation with teleology does not seem to notice that he regularly attributes agency to processes e.g the mind disrupts itself plus lots of vaguely Darwinian talk of things being selected He thinks and hopes that psychoanalysis can fulfil what he sees as the Greek project of providing a grounding for an ethically virtuous life, but the idea that a robust moral psychology could play this role is deluded So interesting in that he is prepared to strike off on his own paths, but the paths don t really lead anyway and at best provide material for unravelling 2013 Review This is a very readable and interesting introduction to Freud and to psychoanalysis It looks at Freud from a philosophical point of view and makes many interesting links particularly to Socrates and Plato I did occasionally feel that it was seeking to be popular in a negative sense and the author certainly has the confidence to present clear views and make clear judgements, some of which did strike me as being a bit quick or superficial However, there are many interesting perspective and a good balance between sympathy and agreement with Freud and the attempt to stand back a bit and assess his work Three stars is perhaps a bit harsh, but as an ex philosopher my expectations of philosophers are a bit high I also think that seeing Freud s work through Plato s eyes is ratherworthwhile and interesting than adding Davidsonian insights to psychoanalytic perspectives but that is probably mainly a reflection on me rather than on this book Jonathan Lear, a professor of Philosophy at the University of Chicago, has here written an extremely helpful introduction to the thought of Freud that comes at this giant s work from the angle of the ancient philosophical search for wise living That was a mouth full so let me put it simply Lear is a philosopher who reads Freud for the purpose of living ahealthy life The fundamental task taken up by Socrates the quest to know thyself is the most basic intention and goal of this boo Jonathan Lear, a professor of Philosophy at the University of Chicago, has here written an extremely helpful introduction to the thought of Freud that comes at this giant s work from the angle of the ancient philosophical search for wise living That was a mouth full so let me put it simply Lear is a philosopher who reads Freud for the purpose of living ahealthy life The fundamental task taken up by Socrates the quest to know thyself is the most basic intention and goal of this book it is, as Lear calls it, the fundamental question But knowing thyself cannot be accomplished not that its possible in any comprehensive sense without first understanding how our human behavior and desires work This latter and prerequisite task is psychoanalysis.At bottom, psychoanalysis is a practical tool intended to help the analysand bring to consciousness certain unconscious drives, feelings, and wishes that are presenting themselves in his or her neurotic behaviors anxiety, depression, anger, etc all of which are causing the lived experience of the individual to go wrong A lot of our problems in life are explainable by various latent, undeveloped, and unaddressed fears, traumas, habits, etc from childhood upbringing that we ve internalized and thus keep coming back again and again We not only don t know what s going on in the unconscious, but we also repress such drives and feelings, distracting ourselves from the deep feelings and such is a self induced tactic whose goal is to turn away from reality All of this is a self induced cycle of unhappiness and actually get in the way of our human flourishing.My favorite chapter was the last one in which Lear critiques Freud s criticisms of religion Lear is clearly a religious thinker who thinks that psychoanalysis is compatible with Christian belief