Proceedings of the XXII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 42, 2008

Philosophy of Mind

Laureen Park
Pages 171-177

Freud’s “Epistemology”
The Break of Dawn in the Unconscious

For Freud, what appears to reason is already predetermined by an unconscious that distorts and censors the “true” meaning behind the explicit one that is allowed to appear to us. The evidences of dreams make this clear. Explicit thoughts or symbols that ultimately connect to our waking life and reality are mere vehicles for the expression of unconscious “thoughts”. Furthermore, dreams evidence a censoring mechanism (that is relaxed in the state of sleep) that keeps these unconscious “thoughts” from rising to the surface in our waking state. So how does Freud have an “epistemology”? Dreams also exhibit rational and cultural mediation. Censorship involves “knowledge” of what to prohibit and what to allow according to normative dictates. Ego-consciousness (or reason) is the ultimate arbiter between unconscious and rational demands. Unconscious thoughts are, therefore, ultimately subject to rational deliberation.