Continental Philosophy Review 55 (1):35-53 (2022)

This article retrieves Freud’s Paul as a forgotten predecessor and untapped critic of the “return to Paul” in contemporary political theology and continental philosophy. Given that Sigmund Freud published Moses and Monotheism in 1939 having barely escaped from Vienna, the text’s reception has justly been dominated by the question of Freud’s identification with Moses and the relationship between psychoanalysis and Judaism. However, I argue that this narrow focus has obscured the more fundamental problem of the connection between religion and Freud’s enigmatic notion of “historical truth,” which he works out not through Moses but through Saint Paul. To do so, I first show how Freud’s genealogy of monotheism is modeled on the pathogenesis of hysterical symptoms. I then trace how Freud deepens his investigation into the etiology of symptom-formation until he arrives at the notion of historical truth and the archaic heritage that transmits it. Lastly, I demonstrate that Freud presents himself less as a Pauline figure than he does Paul as a proto-analyst. Through this staging, I contend that Freud parochializes the claims of Christianity as symptomatic of a more archaic historical truth that psychoanalysis alone is able to access. Freud’s Paul demonstrates that it is not a question of whether but how ostensibly modern secular discourses inherit the theological traditions in which they are imbedded. Reading Freud as a philosopher of religion ultimately offers an indictment of any philosophy or emancipatory politics naively modeled on theological universalism.
Keywords Freud  Psychoanalysis  Moses  Paul  Pathogenesis  Historical truth  Political theology
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DOI 10.1007/s11007-021-09545-w
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Ontogeny and Phylogeny.Stephen Jay Gould - 1978 - Philosophy of Science 45 (4):652-653.
The Future of an Illusion.Sigmund Freud - 1927 - Broadview Press.

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