Re: "Letter on Humanism"--Reading 3 (Re: infancy)

Christopher Rickey responded to my posting about what philosophers can learn
from *certain* psychoanalytic theoreticians:

>Heidegger disliked psycholanalysis for a reason you cite: it approaches
>neuroses as something to eliminate and smooth out. The intent of
>Heidegger is to heighten the feelings of (Angst/Langweile/Erschrecken)
>that get covered over in our thoughtless pursuit of easy living. For
>some reason I cannot quite fathom, Heidegger thought that painful
>existence brings us into our true essence.

While valuable, this response, alas, does not address the point of my

I agree that Heidegger's celebration of suffering is puzzling, especially
since he didn't seem to walk the walk but only talk the talk (he does, as a
person, seem to have been, to coin a phrase, a "Kitschmensch", but, as has
previously been said on this list, this, even if true, would not ipso facto
disqualify the texts he authored from serious consideration).

What I know of Heidegger's opinion of Freud comes from Medard Boss's works:
Boss said he pressed Heidegger to read some of Freud's writings, and
Heidegger was favorably impressed by Freud's clinical descriptions, but
puzzled how such an intelligent man could write such bad theory. I think
Heidegger was "right on" here, and I think most philosophically trained
persons would probably agree.

Not all psychoanalysts are into "eliminating and smoothing out", however.
Masud Khan specifically states that the analyst's role is not to normalize
the patient but, if worst comes to worst, to support the patient in enduring
(even unto suicide...) suffering the patient feels he or she must endure to
avoid losing their true self. Winnicott specifically warned that absence of
symptoms does not constitute health. (Of course there are other analysts who
have jumped on the "true self" bandwagon but look more like their true goal
is eliminating and smoothing out.)

The point of my posting, however, was that, in the psychoanalytic literature,
approached selectively and critically, there is rich material for philosophy
and the other interpretive sciences of man (Geisteswissenschaften). Instead
of Wittgenstein's "language games", for instance, we can seek the origin of
each person's insertion into the linguistic/human world in Winnicott's
description of "object presenting"and other relations of mutual recognition
between mother and child (artistically represented by many Renaissance
Madonna and child paintings), as opposed to Wittgenstein's simplified
(simpleminded?) carpentry site (which, of course, is a "clearing" in a less
honorific sense). Fallenness into "das Man" may not be an essential part of
the human condition, butmerely a consequence of a certain (factical) kind of
(hitherto almost universal, but not inevitable) childrearing.

Brad McCormick

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