Directed to the non-philosopher, this is an attempt to sketch briefly a public philosophy for contemporary America. It attacks the "enfeebling naturalism" of Dewey and espouses the right of suffrage as the most fundamental right of man.--D. P. B.
In his previous book, La philosophie et les experiences naturelles, A. De Waelhens claims that great philosophers in the past have not only been in dialogue with their predecessors but also that each great philosopher benefited from a confrontation with a non-philosophical experience. This previous book forms the theoretical justification for the present one. Here the author studies the problem of psychosis, with the hope and the intention of contributing to the further development of philosophy. Insofar as philosophy is fascinated (...) with the obligation "Learn to know yourself" or the search for an answer for the question "Who am I," insofar so claims the author, contemporary philosophy cannot afford to bypass psychoanalysis. The book has six chapters and a conclusion, but could easily be divided in three parts. The first part is a survey of the general approach to psychosis and schizophrenia by a selected group of European psychiatrists. The author indicates the crucial shortcomings of each approach and shows how there is among them a gradual turning away from a physiological interpretation of schizophrenia and psychosis towards a psychological one. In Part II, the author uses mainly the theory of Lacan and his disciples to present a coherent theory of psychosis. The crucial concepts are 1) the Oedipus-complex, 2) the mirror stage, 3) the foreclosure of a reference to the father. The Oedipus-complex is well known from Freud’s works although it receives here a more structural interpretation. The mirror stage refers to the events around 6-8 months when the child has to appropriate himself as a unified body, not just a collection of partial elements. This task can be noticed easily when one observes the attitude of the child towards the mirror. Hence the name. In order to perform this task successfully the child needs the support of the mother. The function of the mother is still more important for the third problem: a reference to the father. A healthy development of the child requires that the mother is capable of recognizing and of acknowledging the part played by the father in the creation of the child. This is done in our culture by giving the child the name of the father. Mothers of psychotics often are emotionally unable to tolerate that. They want to situate their child exclusively in relation to themselves: they foreclose any reference to the father. Psychosis is therefore related to the foreclosure of the name-of-the-father. These three crucial concepts allow the author to explain the crucial symptoms of schizophrenia, and to compare it with paranoia and paraphrenia. The third part of the book is a philosophical discussion of the problem of psychosis. The author offers the continental philosophical tradition as a better intellectual framework to study psychosis than the physical framework that Freud used in his Project for a Scientific Psychology and that he never completely abandoned. In the conclusion A. De Waelhens summarizes the direct philosophical consequences of the study of psychosis, the most fascinating being that one has to recognize the priority of language in the constitution of the subject, and that there is a meaningful relation between the way I relate to myself, the things and other people. Two improvements could be made in the book. The first is pedagogical: i.e., a critical bibliography of the crucial works of Lacan and his school and of the phenomenological tradition would have been very helpful for any reader not familiar with one of the two streams of thought. A second improvement would be the inclusion in Chapter One of a discussion of the development which has taken place in the U.S.A. in the explanation of schizophrenia. It is parallel with the development in Europe. A useful reference is E. G. Mishler and N. E. Walker: "Family Interaction Processes and Schizophrenia: A Review of Current Theories," in International Journal of Psychiatry, July 1966, Vol. 2, Number 4. Although the book is difficult, it is very insightful and provocative and it certainly merits translation.—W. V. E. (shrink)
Three very urbane men talk to us about literature and criticism and how these are and are not related to Christianity. Connolly very adroitly sets out the problems and obstacles facing the very possibility of a Christian theory of literature, and as adroitly gets around and through them to argue for the necessity of some such all-encompassing Christian theory. D'Arcy and Ulanov have to get down to the more particular work of showing forth the details of "Literature as Christian Comedy," (...) and "The Rhetoric of Christian Comedy." Before them all looms the advice of the new critic, that the poem is its own end; the elaborate moves required to say otherwise and still be respectably academic are a sheer delight for the logically minded reader.--W. G. E. (shrink)