Freud Pro and Con: An Exercise in Controversy
From its inception, psychoanalysis has been the site of fierce controversies and it has used this very fact to promote itself, very successfully, as a revolutionary science under attack from reactionary and repressive forces. In this seminar, we will try to understand why psychoanalysis lends itself to controversy and why the debates that surround it can never be settled. We will study the first polemics around psychoanalysis (1906-1913) as well as the more recent "Freud wars" in the U.S and France, and confront the major critics of psychoanalysis (Jaspers, Wittgenstein, Popper, Grünbaum, Cioffi) with its forceful hermeneutic and narrativist defenders (Habermas, Ricoeur, Spence). In the process, we will (hopefully) learn a few things about science, rhetoric, and interpretation. Students will be asked to take sides and argue their position in contradictory debates. The instructor himself cannot guarantee that he will remain impartial.
Readings: Sigmund Freud, On the History of the Psycho-Analytic Movement; Adolf Grünbaum, The Foundations of Psycho-Analysis; Frank Cioffi, Freud and the Question of Pseudoscience. – Other texts by Jaspers, Wittgenstein, Popper, Habermas, Ricoeur, Spence, etc., will be available in a course pack.