Ethics and Sublimation

Ethical Perspectives 5 (3):200-209 (1998)
In this paper I will alternate between the position of a psychoanalyst who reflects on psychoanalysis as a moral philosopher, and that of a psychoanalyst who views moral concepts from an analyst’s point of view. By psychoanalysis I mean the clinical practice and observations deriving from Freud’s ideas and theoretical constructions, as well as the necessary theoretical underpinnings on which it rests.Jungian theory and practice, though inspired by Freud, differ sharply from Freudian theory and practice — as much as Lamarck differs from Darwin. This is why Jung himself referred to his own theory as ‘analytic psychology’. To conflate them under a single category as theologians are sometimes prone to do, even before E. Drewermann, is a misleading therapeutic and scientific ecumenism. In addition, the word ‘sublimation’ occurs extremely rarely in Jung’s works and has little meaning there. The concept has no real place within his theory. While ‘God’, Shiva, Christ, the devil, the holy virgin mother, etc. may be the representative forms of innate archetypes, it is not a sublimation of drives that has raised them to the level of psychological ‘religion’.My decided choice for Freudian theory and practice rests on experience, on epistemological arguments and on philosophical-anthropological convictions. This point of view, however, does not mean that I think one should or can simply repeat Freud’s practical hints and theoretical statements. Precisely because Freud, like Newton and Darwin, was the founder of a new science, his theoretical concepts open up new fields for observation and thought. In this paper, however, I will not carry out any technical exegesis of Freud’s texts and the discussion it has inspired
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DOI 10.2143/EP.5.3.563083
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