Volume 42, 2018
Philosophy and Psychoanalysis
Three Reflections on Freud´s “Exclusive Humanism”
Tauber, Ricoeur, and Wittgenstein
This paper focuses on Freud´s critique of religion. Informed by Alfred I. Tauber´s 2010 study Freud, the Reluctant Philosopher, it starts with a glimpse at Freud’s methodology, arguing that, when carefully reconstructed, Freud´s (practical as well as theoretical) claims turn out to be significantly more complex, as well as ambiguous, than standard readings of psychoanalysis (in theory of science, cognitive science, and in [post]phenomenological Continental philosophy) suggest. With regard to religion, however, Freud’s writings seem unambiguously critical: they terminate without leaving much room for alternatives, in an “immanentist” (or – to use Charles Taylor’s term - “exclusivist”) humanistic naturalism. The view that those who are interested in Freud´s psychoanalytical method must also accept his post-religiously dimensioned immanentism is neither shared by Paul Ricoeur, nor by Ludwig Wittgenstein. Segments 2 and 3 of the paper deal with their attempts to defend, vis a vis Freud´s critique of what he calls the “illusionary” state of religion, the complexity, and possible relevance, of the “religious language game”. Both Wittgenstein and Ricoeur are (like Freud) operating within the framework of Enlightenment, but both challenge (unlike Freud) its secularist closure, trying (post Freud) to “make room for faith”.