Philosophical arguments against Freud's idea of the unconscious, the central concept of psychoanalysis, have existed as long as psychoanalysis itself. In this highly original book, Donald Levy considers the most important and persuasive of these philosophical criticisms, as articulated by four major figures: Ludwig Wittgenstein, William James, Alasdair MacIntyre, and Adolf Grünbaum. When their basic misunderstandings (or lack of awareness) of psychoanalytic ideas are set aside, Levy contends, the criticisms are neutralized.Offering the first comprehensive critical accounts of Wittgenstein's and James's critiques of the concept of the unconscious, the author finds that Wittgenstein's objections are ultimately religious rather than scientific and that James's dismissal of the idea fails to take into account the role resistance plays in defining unconscious mental activity. Levy maintains that MacIntyre's understanding of the unconscious as intrinsically unobservable overlooks crucial features of the technique of free association and that Grünbaum's contention that only extraclinical testing can determine the truth of psychoanalytic interpretations rests on a false dichotomy between intra- and extraclinical evidence. Thus Levy untangles the main confusions that have surrounded psychoanalysis since its inception and provides a clearer view of what it is and what may be gained from it.
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