File spoon-archives/habermas.archive/habermas_2000/habermas.0012, message 16

Date: Mon, 18 Dec 2000 16:24:26 -0800 (PST)
Subject: HAB: Re: Habermas on Freud

> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: F. van Gelder 
> To: 
> Sent: Thursday, December 14, 2000 8:25 PM
> Subject: HAB: Habermas on Freud
> Anyone on this list interested in a systematic analysis of the
> relationship Habermas/Freud?

Might you return to where the discussion of psychoanalysis here left
off, February, 1999 (postings 7, 16, 18, 21, 22, 26-28), April 2000
and August 2000)--as if there can be some continuity in our
communicative action (pretending that we are a discourse community,
since your contribution was a good part of that earlier discussion)?

> In a first step this would involve going through all of the
> Habermas texts - concentrating, in the main, on everything
> between *Erkenntnis und Interesse* (EuI) and *Theorie des
> kommunikativen Handelns* (TdkH) - in which there is mention of
> the complex Freud/ anthropology/Darwin. The goal of the
> enterprise - this has to be made explicit at the outset, since
> otherwise one disappears for ever into the 'historicist' or
> 'history of ideas' side of it all (or one or other of the
> countless flames on these things) - is a threefold
> clarification:

Yet clarification might serve some purpose other than exegesis, since
Habermas' own interest in Freud was for the purpose of examining
aspects of emancipatory claims to knowledge, the deep structure of
distorted communication, etc., not a focus on Freud as such. More
importantly, though, psychoanalysis itself has gone very far beyond
Freud, especially in light of developmental and cognitive psychology,
which is very appropriate to Habermas' interest in moral-cognitive
development (which never returned to Freud in any focused way after
EuI / KHI).

Your discussion below offers an excellent contextualization of
Habermas' interests and purposes during the time of KHI. It's easy to
conclude that KHI belongs to its period, both the historical period
of political address (recovery of historical materialism) and its
formative period of Habermas' work. 

I don't see how one can treat psychoanalysis seriously without
appreciating its own self-identity as a developmental psychology,
such that Habermas' development of moral-cognitive development
discourse is highly relevant to the issue of Habermas vis-a-vis
psychoanalysis (and derivatively Freud).

I feel compelled to look at work of decades past in terms of aspects
of contemporary life: an allegedly post-Cold War world, an evolution
of psychoanalytic foci, thinking in light of the renaissance in
biological modelling which is now going one ...

One might consider Habermas' critique of Theiussen (? spelling) and
Buber in the _Postmodern Kierkegaard_ anthology as very importantly
applicable to an evaluation of the therapeutic alliance, as well as
the transference relation. 

It's plausible to believe, then, that a focus on Habermas and Freud
is a particular kind of scholastic (even historicist) endeavor,
relative to Habermas' intellectual formation in succeeding decades--a
matter of intellectual biography perhaps, which may not have much
practical ("methodological") upshot. 

I don't know. Possible, though.

Best regards


> 1) at the *methodological* level, the relationship of Critical
> Theory (CT) to Psychoanalysis (PA);
> 2) at the *theoretical* level, the relationship of
> Uebertragung/Gegenuebertragung (transference/ countertrans-
> ference) in contemporary PA versus the analysis of truth
> claims in speech act theory;
> 3) at the *real* (historical) level, the relationship between
> the forces of Globalisation (globalised Capitalism) on the one
> hand, the social psychology of contemporary mass movements on
> the other.
> As I see it, we would have to start with an analysis of the
> *methodological*, the *theoretical*, the *political* context
> in which EuI is written. (To my mind, for *us*, trying to gain
> clarity on these things, it is essential, in this endless
> vista of controversies, political confrontations, reading
> lists too vast to cover in a single lifetime, to hold onto the
> difference between these three contexts: the methodological,
> the theoretical, the political. Without such beacons we are,
> it seems to me, as ordinary mortals with not much more than a
> PC and a bookshelf at our disposal, simply lost.)
> I. *Methodologically* EuI seeks to clarify, against the back-
> ground of Fromm, Marcuse, the *Authoritarian Personality*, the
> *Dialektik der Aufkl"rung*, the 'Kulturismus' debate, the
> relationship between CT on the one hand, the individual social
> sciences - starting with Psychology (PA) - on the other.
> Habermas, at the time of EuI, shares *neither* the thirties
> position of Fromm and Horkheimer ('PA is capable of telling us
> why class consciousness in the Western Democracies failed to
> develop') *nor* the *Dialectic of Enlightenment* position of
> Horkheimer and Adorno during the war years in California.
> ('Enlightenment and Reflection as the basis for a *political*
> movement - as opposed to the achievement of individual and
> isolated philosophers - is dead') With Marcuse, he seems to
> have had the hope that the modern - since 1945 vastly expanded
> - University system in the West could form something like an
> equivalent for the selfconscious 'collective historical
> subject' which *Lukacs* had still discerned in the
> 'proletariat', but which the realities of Soviet and Eastern
> Marxism had by then made patently untenable. 
> II. *Theoretically* EuI seeks to clarify the relationship
> between anthropological universals, their sedimentation 'in'
> language, ('Knowledge constitutive interests'), and the
> peculiar experience of 'reflection', in the course of which
> we, both as concrete individuals and as a species, are capable
> (touch wood) of reaching a 'higher' degree of individual
> autonomy and collective freedom. The proof of the *reality* of
> 'reflection' as a means of gaining *individual* autonomy
> (which in Habermas' eyes PA had demonstrated beyond any doubt)
> had a two-fold purpose:
> a) against the *positivists*, for whom 'objective knowledge'
> is confined to the results of the natural sciences (maths,
> stats, experiments) the reality of individual reflective
> processes is used to prove the inadequacy of formalist
> explanations of what it is that happens in the course of
> 'scientific progress'; ('the hypothetico-deductiv method is
> ideologically biased in favour of purely instrumental reason')
> b) against *dogmatic Marxism* the reality of individual
> reflection makes it (i) impossible to ignore the way in which
> power relationships sediment themselves in ordinary language
> (which then comes into focus as the place where emancipation
> at an *individual* level becomes possible); (ii) impossible to
> 'subsume' everything under the sun under the 'objective
> contradiction' of 'market' versus 'labour'. (A 'macro-theory'
> of the species as a whole, as revealed to the party
> ideologues, according to which every individual experience is
> nullified by confronting it with a 'class analysis' of the
> speaker.)
> In short: for the *positivists* Freud is obscurantist
> nonsense, a throwback to quasi-religious sectarianism and
> unprovable metaphysics; for the *Marxists* Freud is a petty-
> bourgeois intellectual - 'patriarchy' was not yet fashionable
> as a term of opprobrium - hiding his true class interest in
> exploitation behind the phony 'universal truths' of Idealism.
> III. *Politically* EuI is a text written at a time when
> Germany (and the rest of Europe, plus many other parts of the
> world) is seeking to come to terms with the legacy of two
> world wars - and in the middle of a 'Cold War' marked both by
> the expansion of the 'market mechanism' into all areas of
> life, and the reality of war in Vietnam and other parts of the
> 'third' World. In *this* context 'Marx' and 'Freud' give
> expression to the hope that the contemporary world is - from
> the perspective of the individual - intelligible at all, that
> the notion of 'progress' has not been torpedoed for good,
> ('Spengler', 'Orwell') leaving - if anything - shrinking
> niches in literature, art, and music for the lucky few. (While
> the rest of us are left with the choice - if that is what it
> is - between 'McWorld' and 'Jihad'.)
> Comments anyone?
> --- End Forwarded Message ---

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