Folk-psychology, psychopathology, and the unconscious

Philosophical Explorations 2 (3):206-224 (1999)
There is a 'philosophers' assumption that there is a problem with the very notion of an unconscious mental state.The paper begins by outlining how the problem is generated, and proceeds to argue that certain conditions need to be fulfilled if the unconscious is to qualify as mental. An explanation is required as to why we would ever expect these conditions to be fulfilled, and it is suggested that the Freudian concept of repression has an essential role to play in such an explanation. Notoriously this concept brings with it a further puzzle: it looks as though repression serves a purpose, and so requires an agent to execute this purpose, a repressor. Paradox is avoided only if repression is viewed in biologicalfunctional terms.The result is that the notion of the unconscious is saved from the a priori objections often levelled at it by philosophers.This still leaves considerable theoretical work to be done by psychological science
Keywords Folk Psychology  Psychopathology  Science  Unconsciousness
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DOI 10.1080/10001999098538707
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