Volume 42, 2018
Philosophy and Psychoanalysis
What is not Philosophical in Psychoanalysis?
Psychoanalysts have borrowed a lot from philosophy, yet they claim to differ from philosophers: They pretend to be more scientific; understand and change experiential and emotional aspects of life in ways that are beyond the reach of both empirical science and “intellectual” philosophy; penetrate into “unconscious” or “subconscious” levels of life; shutter down the self-deceptive illusions of “rationalizing” philosophers. Some contemporary philosophers are tempted, in their turn, to adopt psychoanalytic ideas and methods and introduce them into philosophy. Philosophy, however, is not the art of combining ideas and methods, but rather a participation in controversies in which ideas and methods are called into question and values and attitudes are examined. Although psychoanalysts challenge ideas, values and attitudes that their patients take for granted, and in this respect they are philosophical, their aim is conversion and not conversation. They try to persuade the challenged patient to “grow” towards their own philosophical convictions rather than invite her to join a philosophical dialogue, and they do it with non-rational tools. In this respect they are gurus. Participation in a philosophical controversy in which the philosophical presuppositions of the analysts are also examined and challenged may sometimes be more beneficial not only intellectually and theoretically but also emotionally and practically.