Making the unconscious conscious: Wittgenstein versus Freud

Philosophia 37 (4):565-588 (2009)
Abstract
The common assimilation of Wittgenstein’s philosophical procedure to Freud’s psychoanalytic method is a mistake. The concurrence of Freudian analysands is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition of their unconscious thoughts having been detected. There are several sources of this error. One is the equivocal role Freud assign the patient’s recognition of the correctness of his interpretation and in particular the part played by ‘paradoxical reminiscence’: another, the surreptitious banalisation of Freud’s procedure by followers—the reinvention of psychoanalysis as a phenomenological enterprise; still another, the appeal of the activity of giving fuller expression to one’s tantalisingly vague and inexplicit thoughts and suspicions. This activity has its own intrinsic value though it ought not to be permitted to usurp the place of empirical investigation, as futile as this often is. And yet both plausible hypotheses and felicitous ‘further descriptions’ must yield in desirability to the attainment of a state of reconciliation to the person one has become however this was caused and whatever this is suspected to be.
Keywords The unconscious  Self-knowledge  Wittgenstein  Freud
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